“You’re part of something big,” Mr. Ray, 45, recently recalled the priest having told the couple. “And when you’re part of something big, you’re going to come under spiritual attack. But fear isn’t from God. God doesn’t push. God doesn’t rush. God is just there waiting for you.”
Father Gross has similarly been present since taking the pulpit at the modest church — bricks on the outside, cinder blocks on the inside — in the early summer of 2012. Like the other clergy members in town, most of them Protestant, he represents the stable, ordering force of religion in a region of the country being radically transformed by the bonanza of shale oil and natural gas.