From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

After 25 years of priesthood, Clarkston pastor finds Church is a family ‘broader than a blood family’

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Jan. 18, 2001 edition of the Inland Register

In 25 years as a priest, Father Leonard Forsmann of Clarkston has come to appreciate the diversity of the church he serves.

“There are lots and lots of different people,” he said, “with different ideas and different ways of doing things. To the extent we can deal with that and accept the differences, (the church) is stronger.”

He is also grateful for the sense of belonging, of having a family “broader than a blood family,” which he sees as a gift of his priesthood. “It’s being connected — to my brother priests and to the people of the diocese. It’s also being accepted” in that family.

The parish “family” — Holy Family Parish in Clarkston —helped Father Forsmann celebrate his 25th anniversary of priestly ordination Jan. 7. About 300 people gathered for a reception at the parish center to reminisce with their pastor and share refreshments.

Holy Family Parish is one of the diocese’s medium-sized parishes, with about 700 families.

Father Forsmann is a native son, having grown up in the Clarkston parish. He was ordained there Jan. 3, 1976 and was named pastor in 1991. Other assignments included six years as pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Pasco, where he also served seven years as an associate pastor, and two years as associate pastor of Our Lady of Fatima, Spokane.

He said it was “hard to define the motivation” for becoming a priest. He entered the seminary formation program at the age of 14.

Among those encouraging him was his grandmother. “She would tell me, ‘You should be a priest.’ ” But he could see life as a priest as way of helping people, he said, “a way of being of service to people.”

Father Forsmann attended Mater Cleri and Bishop White Seminary in Spokane. He graduated from Gonzaga University and from the American College in Louvain, Belgium.

Father Forsmann’s parents still make their home in Clarkston — “in the summer,” he said, with their winter months spent in the south. His brothers and sisters are scattered around the Pacific Northwest.

Two beautiful Siberian Huskies named Kimo and Nikki share living quarters with Father Forsmann and he can often be seen outdoors with them.

His interests cover a wide area since, he said, “I want to get to know a little bit about everything before I die.” He does woodworking and welding and plays golf on occasion. He has a ham radio operator’s license and enjoys trap shooting. His interests go beyond sports and hands-on hobbies, however. He is also studying an area of mathematics that deals with the chaos theory.

Parish work is “where it’s at,” at least as far as Father Forsmann is concerned. “The church is not about a great institution or fantastic buildings. It has to do with people who are believers, in parishes and families. That’s where the life of the church is lived out.”

Helping people live out their lives according to the Gospel is how Father Forsmann uses his gifts of ministry. “I try to model a way of life that calls believers to do their best and to trust that God will take care of the rest.”

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