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Father John Kucera is new to the Upper Valley parish as of last summer.

The Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Driggs is hosting a fundraiser on Feb. 15, a Valentine’s Day festival and dance which will also be an informal opportunity to meet Father John Kucera, who is relatively new to the scene in Teton Valley.

Kucera was assigned to the Upper Valley area last summer and serves Driggs, St. Anthony, and Rexburg, taking the place of Father Javier Corral Piña, who had finished his time in 2019 and returned to Mexico. Kucera was born and raised in Lewiston, Idaho. When he graduated from Lewis-Clark State College in 2010, he considered continuing schooling to be a doctor or physical therapist, but then God called him to the priesthood. He attended Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon, where he gained knowledge of himself and of the Lord. After being ordained in 2017, he did his first assignment in Nampa, then transferred to the Mary Immaculate Parish in St. Anthony.

He describes himself as fairly bilingual and offers an English Mass at 4:30 p.m. on Sundays and a Spanish Mass at 6 p.m. in Driggs, as well as a bilingual Mass on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.

“I’m getting to know everybody here, and it’s been an incredible experience so far,” Kucera said. He added that all the people he serves are very kind, and that each parish has its own personality. The Driggs community is the fastest-growing, both on the English and Spanish side. “Driggs parishioners have a lot of energy and they want to do a lot,” he said.

On Feb. 15 from 3 to 8 p.m. at the fairgrounds, the church will host a kermes, a celebration similar to a carnival, with tacos and raffle tickets for sale. The night will continue past that with live music and dancing. The proceeds will go to the purchase of a new sound system for Good Shepherd, since the church has been borrowing one from a generous parishioner.

Kucera likely won’t stay late at the event; he has five Masses to perform on Sunday, starting at 8 a.m. In the summer he averages up to seven or eight events and Masses each weekend.

“Summers can get crazy, with quinceañeras and weddings on top of all that,” he said.

For more information on Good Shepherd’s services, visit www.uppervalleycatholic.com.

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