World

Last Catholic priest at US base in Antarctica leaves post

A Catholic priest who served at the U.S.-operated McMurdo Station in Antarctica was told he will have to leave his post due to declining attendance and budget cuts.

Father Dan Doyle, who lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, would spend summers on the remote continent and serve the population in the area of about 2,000, the BBC reported.

His tasks were similar to any priest in a more northern parish, except, of course, for his occasional jaunts down to the South Pole to conduct Mass at the Amudsen-Scott Base, which the BBC pointed out is the southernmost inhabited place on Earth.

He served a daily Mass, performed last rights and even a few baptisms. There are some religious constraints by living in the most remote corner of Earth. For example, you cannot be legally married or buried on the continent because no one country stakes claim on the land.

The Catholic Diocese of Christchurch has been providing a priest for the U.S. Antarctic program since 1957.

The report said a military chaplain will remain in place and protestant priest will continue to summer in the outpost. 

Doyle, who spent the last 14 summers there, called the decision the end of a "wonderful adventure."

"You think white is one color," he told the station. "But white is a thousand colors when you get inside a glacier and it’s all around you."