On the Catholic frontier

WEST SIKKIM, INDIA -- Bishop Stephen Lepcha gasps for a breath in the thin air. He trudges a few more steps along the narrow path etched into the side of the mountain, here in the craggy foothills of the Himalayas, then stops, his chest heaving. We are enveloped in an inky blackness except for the weak beam of a flashlight four of us share. The road we left behind an hour ago is far below, yet the lights of Behga, the tiny village atop this mountain five miles from the border with Nepal, still look distant.