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

Father Cornelius Verdoorn, former Guatemala missionary, dies at age 76

the Inland Register

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

Father Cornelius Verdoorn, the first priest to minister in the Spokane Diocese’s Guatemala mission, died Dec. 24 at St. Joseph Care Center. He was 76 years old and had been a priest for 49 years.

The vigil was the afternoon of Dec. 27 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes. His funeral Mass was celebrated there the next morning. Burial was at Holy Cross Cemetery.

He was born in Hillegom, Holland, and began his seminary studies there before coming to the United States in 1948. That year he entered St. Edward Seminary, Kenmore, Wash., as a first year theology student.

He was ordained a deacon, along with the future Father John Rompa, at Sacred Heart Church, Spokane, on June 10, 1950. Deacon Verdoorn spent that summer working in the diocesan archives, creating photographic microfilm copies of parish records.

He was ordained a priest the following May at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes. He celebrated his first Mass at St. Ann Parish.

Father Verdoorn’s first assignment as a priest was in the post of assistant pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Spokane. At the end of the summer that year he moved to St. Augustine Parish, again as an assistant, before being assigned as administrator of St. Genevieve, Twisp, the following year. He became pastor of that parish in 1956.

In June 1959 he became the first Spokane Diocese priest assigned to the new mission in Guatemala. He served there for nearly six years before returning to the United States as pastor of Sacred Heart, Othello.

He returned to Guatemala for eight months, beginning in September 1968.

In 1969 Bishop Angelica Melotto, bishop of Sololá, Guatemala, presented the papal honor Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice (“For the Church and the Pontiff”) to Fathers Verdoorn and Rompa for their service as missionaries in Central America.

After his second assignment in Guatemala Father Verdoorn again became pastor in Othello. He went on to be named pastor of St. Mary, Spokane; the parishes in Colton and Uniontown; Clarkston; Wilbur and Coulee Dam; and Pomeroy.

His last assignment was pastor of the parishes in Davenport, Harrington, Odessa, and Reardan.

He retired in 1994.

In announcing Father Verdoorn’s death, Msgr. John Steiner, vicar general of the Spokane Diocese, wrote, “(Father Verdoorn), thank you for sharing your life and ministry with us. You lived in interesting and challenging times. Your service and faith were a special blessing to our diocese and our presbyterate.”

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