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 Joseph Weitensteiner receives honorary Doctor of Laws degree at GU commencement

the Inland Register

(From the May 24, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

Father Joseph Weitensteiner, a priest of the Diocese of Spokane since ordination in 1966, was among those receiving honorary degrees at Gonzaga University’s 114th annual commencement exercises this month.

The school’s various ceremonies saw the conferral of approximately 618 bachelor, 390 master, 10 doctoral and 142 juris doctor degrees during the weekend.

Father Weitensteiner was given an honorary Doctor of Laws during the Graduate School ceremony.

The priest has long been associated with his work at Morning Star Boys’ Ranch. He helped begin the ranch in 1956 and was the first child care counselor there. He left the ranch to study for the priesthood. After ordination in 1966 he returned to the ranch as assistant director. He became director later that same year, a position he continues to hold, though he retired from parish ministry in 1997.

The university referred to Father Weitensteiner as someone who shares the Blessed Mother’s “morning star mission, reflecting the light of Christ for the youth of Spokane.”

Other commencement exercises included:

  • The ROTC commissioning May 11 in the Martin Centre. The guest speaker was General Jason Kamiya, a 1976 GU alumnus and assistant Division Commander for Support, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.
  • The Law School commencement was held May 12 in the Martin Centre. The event featured Jesuit Father Ladislas Orsy, professor of canon law at the Georgetown University Law Center, as the keynote speaker. Father Orsy also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Gonzaga for his distinguished service to the legal profession. He delivered the keynote address for the Graduate School commencement ceremonies that day as well.
  • Barbara C. Clark, executive director of the Seattle-based Legal Foundation of Washington, received the Gonzaga Law Medal at the Law School ceremony. The medal recognizes outstanding achievement in the profession of law.
  • Jesuit Brother Richard J. Curry, founder of the National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped in New York City in 1977, and author of The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking, addressed the undergraduates at their commencement May 13, in the Spokane Arena. Brother Richard received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony.

Also so honored were attorney Harry Leppek, who has served the people of East Los Angeles for 60 years; and David Nicandri, of Tumwater, Wash., director of the Washington State Historical Society and executive editor of the Columbia Magazine, The Magazine of Northwest History.

Jesuit Father Wilfred P. Schoenberg, former archivist for Gonzaga and the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, was honored at the undergraduate commencement with the DeSmet Medal for a lifetime dedicated to Catholic education and scholarship in the Pacific Northwest. Schoenberg, who now lives in Portland, Ore., has written well over a dozen books, including one on the history of Gonzaga.


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