After serving as a missionary in Honduras and Mexico, with an eight-year stint in Texas sandwiched in between, Dori Zubizarreta, is glad to be back in Montana where she grew up. She is the new Episcopal priest serving the congregations at both St. Paul’s in Hamilton and St. Stephen’s in Stevensville.
Zubizarreta grew up in Denton, Montana, near Lewistown. She graduated from the University of Montana in Music and Education. Afterwards she taught in Conrad and in Helena, also serving as coach to the varsity basketball and volleyball teams. She got a Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling and Education in 1990 from Regent University in Virginia.
She went to Honduras on missionary work in 1995 and served at Our Little Roses Home for Abandoned and Abused Girls. She was ordained into the Episcopal Church there in 1998. She met her husband, Pedro, there and the two were married in 2002. Pedro was born in Cuba.
The two of them then spent eight years in Texas, first in the little town of San Benito in the Rio Grande Valley on the Mexican border and later in Comfort, just outside of San Antonio.
After that, she and Pedro moved to Mexico where they both served as directors at an orphanage in Chiapas. The orphanage was situated on 37 acres and the couple raised eighty-seven sheep, some pigs, about 100 laying hens and a horse. They also raised seven acres of corn, four acres of peanuts and some lemon and orange trees.
Zubizarreta said that she always had it in the back of her mind to return to Montana and when the opportunity seemed right she applied to transfer here. She was offered two options. One was to serve the churches in Ennis and Virginia City, the other was to serve St. Paul’s and St. Stephen’s in the Bitterroot Valley.
“We chose the Bitterroot,” said Zubizarretta. “My husband, Pedro, says, next to Cuba, it’s the closest thing to heaven on earth.” Pedro is still working at the orphanage in Chiapas, but will join her here in the Bitterroot as soon as a replacement director can be found.
Given her background, Zubizaretta speaks Spanish fluently and hopes to connect with the Spanish population here, perhaps offering services in Spanish or helping Spanish speakers to learn English. With a background in music she also hopes to start a “guitar mass” and get some youth groups going. She is also willing to talk in the schools about her life and her experiences.
She conducts services every Sunday at 9:30 at St. Paul’s in Hamilton and every Sunday at noon at St. Stephen’s in Stevensville.