A ministry at the top of the world

An Inuvialuit girl pictured July 2, 2011, smiles inside the Saint Vincent de Paul thrift store that Sr. Fay Trombley started to provide affordable clothing in Tukoyaktuk. (Michael Swan, used under Creative Commons 2.0)

For most of the year, Tuktoyaktuk is accessible only by air. In the winter, however, it's a different story. Then -- when the temperature has dropped to 40 degrees below zero -- then you can reach the tiny hamlet perched above the Arctic Circle via the Winter Road, that is, on an icy pathway on top of the frozen Arctic Ocean.

And for that reason, Tuk -- as it's often called -- has very few visitors.

But Fay Trombley, a Sister of Charity of the Immaculate Conception and a native of British Columbia, has made Tuk her home for the last 10 years. After her retirement, the 74-year-old former seminary educator says she settled in the hamlet not for the peace and solitude one could find in a place with only 950 people, but rather to fulfill a girlhood dream of serving as a missionary at the top of the world.

It seemed like the perfect post-retirement plan.

"I thought, 'I have both the desire to go to the people of the Arctic and also the capacity to bring some kind of articulation of our faith because of my theology background,' " she said from her home, which doubles as a food bank, community center and, occasionally, a church for the hamlet's 20 to 40 Catholics.

Read the full story at Global Sisters Report.
A version of this story appeared in the Feb 13-26, 2015 print issue under the headline: At the top of the world: Sister makes a home with Inuvialuit people of tiny Arctic hamlet .

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