In a time when the country is divided in so many ways, Father Charles Heston wants to bring them all together. It is one of his goals as the new head priest at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Cody.
“I want to build the community, not just for Catholics, but for people of all faiths,” he said.
Heston has been a Catholic priest for more than 25 years. Born in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, in 1964, he decided to become a priest at the age of 29.
“I grew up in a very multi-cultural and multi-religious country,” he said. “India has four of some of the oldest religions, most are Hindu or Buddhist, but there is also Jainism and Sikhism as well. There are seven different religions throughout the country and over 22 different languages are spoken.”
Christianity is also on the rise in India, where nearly 28 million people identify as Christian. It is the third largest religion behind Hinduism and Islam. But it still only makes up 2.3% of people in a country with over 1.3 billion.
Heston speaks five languages. He went to Seminary school for 10 years, where he learned Latin, English and other languages. He has gone on to participate in many missions throughout his home country of India, and in America as well, helping those who are less fortunate. He moved to America 10 years ago, and has been to churches in 12 states in his time here.
More recently, Heston traveled to his homeland of India during the COVID pandemic that swept through his home country.
“The whole country was in lockdown, you could only go to the grocery store for food, and that was it,” he said. “I mostly stayed home with my family and even said Mass for them.”
Heston moved to Wyoming just over two years ago, and has enjoyed his stay here so far. He says Mass for three different communities, Cody, Meeteetse and Clark, so he is always on the move. As the head priest at his Parrish of St. Anthony’s, Heston does have a few goals as the new leader.
“I want to build the community, extend ministry to non-Catholics, and bring people back to the church,” he said. “I would also like to focus on our future generations as well.”
When asked what his favorite verse from the Bible was, he responded with James, Chapter 2 verse 24.
“You see now that it is by deeds, and not by faith alone, that someone is justified.”