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 George McCabe: 1917-2001
the Inland Register
(From the June 15, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)
Father George McCabe, ordained a priest for the Spokane Diocese on May 31, 1945, died May 26 after a long illness.
The vigil service was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes at 7 p.m. May 31. The funeral Mass was celebrated the next morning. Burial was at Holy Cross Cemetery.
He was born in Lima, Wis., and attended St. Francis and St. Lawrence seminaries in his home state before entering St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore, Wash., outside Seattle.
After ordination Father McCabe was an assistant pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Spokane, St. Rose of Lima in Ephrata, and St. Patrick Parish, Pasco. He also was pastor of the parishes in Republic, LaCrosse and Chewelah before he retired in 1981.
He spent his longest period in ministry as a chaplain at Walla Walla State Penitentiary, from 1956-1970.
In an Inland Register interview shortly after he left prison ministry, Father McCabe talked about the difficulties of that work, from attempts on his life to the attitude of those he tried to serve.
He was the first Catholic chaplain at Walla Walla, and volunteered because “they needed a priest and I figured I could do the job with God’s help.”
Prison, he said, “is hell on earth. In prison you find hate, self-pity and people who blame others for why they are in prison.... If a priest makes himself available, doesn’t allow himself to be used and gives a good example by his life, then he will be instrumental in helping convicts and saving their souls,” he said.
It was a parallel he found with parish ministry as well: a chaplain or pastor must always “give the best he can.”
Other ministry included chaplaincy at the Veterans’ Hospital and wintertime Mass celebrations for skiers at 49 Degrees North.
At various times he served on the diocese’s Priests Senate, as vice president and president of the American Catholic Correctional Chaplains Association, and the diocese’s Director of Rural Life.
In 1987 Father McCabe received bi-ritual faculties, allowing him to celebrate the Byzantine Rite Mass at SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Spokane.
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