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

Active, involved parishioners are hallmark of five parishes in northeast corner of the diocese

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the May 2, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

(Editor's note: Father Ed Marier serves five parishes in the northeast corner of the Spokane Diocese. This week's parish profile will feature three of those parishes.)

Father Ed Marier's five parishes are located in one of the most scenic parts of Washington state. He is pastor of St. Anthony at Newport, St. Jude at Usk, Our Lady of Sorrows on the Kalispel Reservation, St. Bernard in lone, and St. Joseph in Metaline Falls.

Although the large number of parishes don't translate into large numbers of parishioners, the parish populations swell in the summer, with tourists and seasonal residents increasing the numbers during summer months.

Father Marier juggles a schedule between the five churches that puts anywhere from 30,000 to 35,000 miles a year on his vehicle. The highway he travels runs along the scenic Pend Oreille River, through forested mountains and open meadows. He cautions visitors to watch for deer as they drive his route to visit the churches.

St. Anthony at Newport is the oldest, started in 1908, and its current church building is the newest of the group. Newport also is the largest town; the parish counts 90 families. The rustic wood structure, which blends so well with its surroundings, was built in 1979 when Father George Morbeck was pastor. The late Bishop Lawrence Welsh dedicated the church Jan. 19, 1980. The church is located just west of the rectory and the former church on the west side of Newport. At least three other churches of other denominations are nearby neighbors.

In the early 1900s Jesuit missionaries served the area's Catholics, saying Masses in private homes or in an empty boxcar on a railroad siding. One of those early missionaries, Jesuit Father Aloysius Folchi, built the first church in Newport, dedicated by Jesuit Father Louis Taelman, president of Gonzaga College (now University) on Sept. 19, 1909.

The first church was typical for its time: a rectangular building painted white, with a steeple and bell and a cross on top. Pink stained glass windows gave a rosy glow to the interior. The building still stands to the east of the newer church and is now used as a clothing bank. The bell in the old church steeple was removed and installed into the new church.

Seating in the new church is arranged in a semi-circle around the altar. During the Easter season, a colorful, almost life-size depiction of the risen Jesus hangs on the wall behind the altar. (A crucifix hangs there the rest of the year.) The communion of saints is depicted in the brightly colored stained glass windows built around the nave. All the windows have been donated by parishioners in memory of family.

Jesuit Brother Joseph Carignano's painting of St. Anthony and Our Lady hangs on the north wall. It, too, once decorated the old church. The artwork was badly discolored by an arson fire at the church in 1984, but a lengthy cleaning process restored the work.

South of the nave is the sacristy and the Blessed Sacrament chapel. The parish hall is in the basement and it has ample room, including a big kitchen, for all kinds of events. One corner of the basement was remodeled into the parish office.

St. Anthony's congregation is older; of the 90 households, about 80 percent are retired. One blessing is that, being retired, they have time to volunteer. Father Marier said there was always willing help for parish projects.

The downside is that there are not too many young people, although in the last couple of years, younger families have started moving into the parish. On two Sundays of the month, the parish celebrates a Liturgy of the Word with children ages three to seven. The older youth meet in the spring and fall. Many of them are skiers and they take a break during ski season.

Retired or not, the parish is an active one. Coffee and doughnuts bring people together one Sunday a month. Sometimes the camaraderie continues after coffee and doughnuts, as parishioners will eat lunch together and then play cards, said Deacon Bill Sando.

The church operates the clothing bank and works with other churches and community organizations to secure volunteers. Unemployment is high in Pend Oreille County, as is the poverty level, making the clothing bank a much-needed service for many families.

The parish also collects food for the local food bank, and volunteers take Communion to the local nursing home. One outreach project that will take place in a couple of weeks is a bowling fund-raiser for Habitat for Humanity. Father Marier is fielding a team to participate.

The parish recently started a garden club for beautification and upkeep of the parish grounds. The parish is expecting the arrival of an Italian statue of the Blessed Virgin. The statue will be placed outdoors.

Diocesan priests served Newport’s Catholics starting in about 1914, with Father Aloysius De Malsche. Father Maurice Helfenstein was pastor from 1932-52.

Deacon Sando, a long-time resident, assists Father Marier at St. Anthony Parish. "I do a variety of things to help." he said, “whatever is needed." He characterized the parish as one that "works things out. Everyone is willing to volunteer.”

Virginia Brown is another old-timer, having lived in Newport since 1960. She is unabashed about her love for the parish, calling it "warm, friendly, a fantastic group of workers."

Gladys Bishop is a newcomer. She entered the Church at Easter. She, too, loves the parish and was greatly appreciative of how they welcomed her into the faith and into the parish community.

Rose and Bob Kirby moved to Newport three years ago from Pasco. They love everything about their adopted community — the smaller city of Newport, the forests "instead of sand," and St. Anthony Parish. Bob is the parish handyman and was the person responsible for moving the parish office into the basement of the church, a project completed just two weeks ago. Both Kirbys are on the parish council and are in charge of hospitality.

These parishioners agree with Deacon Sando that the parish's greatest strength is "the way everyone cooperates with each other and the closeness we share."

*****

St. Jude Church at Usk, about 15 miles north, is rustic in design, with a knotty pine exterior which suits its forested setting. The church was built in 1941, during Father Helfenstein's pastorate, and parish families number 15.

The building is small but ample for parishioners. Mass attendance is higher in the summer when people come to the area for vacations. Father Marier drives up for Mass at noon on Tuesdays, which is followed by Catholic doctrine classes. Father Marier said the weekday Mass is sometimes "more actively attended" than a Sunday celebration.

Long-time Usk parishioner Mike Keogh remembers attending Mass "in a little room above the feed store" in the days before the church was built. After the church was built, Keogh remembers getting up early to pack wood and build a fire so it would be warm for Mass.

A recent renovation project included insulation and electric heat. "We brought it up to date," Keogh said, "and it's going to last."

Keogh said the parish is a "small, close-knit group. We know each other really well and we have fun."

*****

Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, with about 25 families, is located on the Kalispell Indian Reservation, about three miles northeast of Usk. They gather for Mass "almost every Sunday of the year at 7 p.m.," Father Marier said, a practice which was only recently renewed. Before that, Mass was offered in the afternoon but few people attended. Now, said Father Marier, "we have a good mixture of youth and adults.”

One unique custom in the parish is to celebrate Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows in September in "the Cave," a place where Mass was once celebrated on a regular basis. In fact, the first Mass in Pend Oreille County was offered by the Jesuits in the Cave in 1840. The Cave was later called Manresa Grotto, named after the cave where St. Ignatius Loyola wrote his Spiritual Exercises.

In 1957 a group of men restored the Cave, since it had not been used for a number of years. If it's not too cold, said parishioner Karen Martin, the community has Easter Mass there.

An important attribute of the parish is its sense of connection with those who have died. The parish celebrates the feast of All Souls Day in November with a Mass and a "remembrance of spirits that have passed, followed by a wonderful dinner reception," said Father Marier. Parishioner Martin said years ago the community would meet and eat in the cemetery at that time.

The church interior is decorated in remembrance of deceased loved ones. The back wall of the sanctuary and the walls hold plastic flowers, each one placed in remembrance of someone who died.

The pews have been shortened, to remove broken parts and also to allow room for caskets during a funeral.

The church, which was built in 1914 by Jesuit Father Edward Griva, was moved to its present location about 1949. Apparently flooding afflicted the church the year before. It is now on LeClerc Road, next to Tribal offices. Nearby a herd of buffalo wanders in a large fenced pasture. The animals, which the tribe raises to sell, arrived thanks to a grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

One of the parish's goals is to begin religious education for youth and adults, perhaps both at once in a family-style program.

(Next issue: The parishes in Ione and Metaline Falls.)

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