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New Beginnings in Belfield

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Header photo: (Left to Right) Kristi Tessier, Father Shane Campbell, and Patty Hutzenbiler.

Most people can relate to the feeling of being new; whether you’re the new kid in school, the new employee at work, or the new family in the neighborhood. While the newness can be exciting, it often goes hand in hand with fear, anxiety, and even loneliness.

Recently, St. Bernard’s parish in Belfield, ND was assigned a new priest. These priests don’t choose where they are assigned, they simply move to the new home they are given as part of their ministry. This priest, Father Shane Campbell, came from a large parish in Mandan, ND, population 22,228 — to the much smaller parish in Belfield, population 976.

“It’s a totally new community for him,” said Kristi Tessier, a Frontline Specialist at Choice Bank in Belfield, who is also a member of the St. Bernard’s parish. “He’s just starting to get to know the names and the people here.”

“It’s a totally new community for him,” said Kristi Tessier. “He’s just starting to get to know the names and the people here.”

Part of that, she explained, is learning the many Ukrainian last names of Belfield. At a recent parish bazaar, he had to apologize for the mispronunciations. “Bear with me,” he said. “I’ll learn these names!”

Speaking of last names, Patty Hutzenbiler is another member of the parish and a Frontline Specialist at Choice Bank (that’s HUTS-en-bi-ler ). Patty was eager to make Father Shane feel as welcome as possible. She’s an avid sports fan, and regularly attends the local games; high school football, basketball, softball, etc. When she ran into Father Shane at the Friday night football game, it was a pleasant surprise.

“He told me he really enjoys sports of all kinds,” she said.  That got her thinking…

Later, as Patty thought of ways to welcome Father Shane, the perfect idea came to her. She called up the high school to see if it was possible to buy him a season pass so he could attend any game free of charge. After a quick conversation, the school agreed it was a great idea. Patty and her husband paid for the pass with their personal funds and picked it up that same day.

“We wanted to get him involved with the community, and the people and families who live here,” she said. “What better way than to get him a pass to all the home games!”

“We wanted to get him involved with the community, and the people and families who live here,” she said.

Kristi was working when Patty made the phone call to the school and overheard her conversation. She was delighted but not surprised to see Patty, yet again, going out of her way to make a positive difference in someone’s life.

“Patty is always doing great things in the community,” she said. “This was such an awesome thing to do.”

When Patty called up Father Shane and told him the news, he was ecstatic. He came by the bank that day to pick up the pass and thanked Patty for the thoughtful gift. Since then they’ve planned to meet at some of the upcoming games and cheer for the Heart River Cougars together!

“Smile, be helpful and be passionate,” Patty said, referencing one of the Choice Bank’s core values that motivates her. “We wanted him to feel welcome, to know that he has a home here.”