Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
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Bishop Skylstad erects new parish in Tum Tum/Suncrest
by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff
(From the Dec. 5, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)
On Sunday, Dec. 1, Our Lady of the Lake Church at Suncrest-Tum Tum officially became a parish. It’s the first new parish in the Spokane Diocese since 1976, when Our Lady of the Valley in Okanogan was established.
What began in 1969 as a church with five families is now almost 20 times the size. The Catholic community, which currently counts about 100 families, worships together at the community center.
Jesuit Father Tim Clancy is pastor of Our Lady of the Lake. He has been sacramental minister for the area for nearly five years.
He said in their demographic work the parish estimates its population will be “just short of 300 families.” New homes are being built in the area at a rapid rate, and growth will hvae an impact on the parish in years to come.
The new church will be located on 14 acres, across the street from the middle school on Highway 291. The parish boundaries encompass an area on the west side of Nine Mile Dam on both sides of Long Lake in Stevens County.
Some of the territory for the new territory was carved from Assumption Parish in northwest Spokane. Assumption could be considered the mother parish, since Our Lady of the Lake was Assumption’s mission almost ever since it was founded. For a time, though, it was a mission of Deer Park.
Parishioners voted to retain the name, Our Lady of the Lake, to keep their continuity with the past. They have already formed planning committees and a fund-raising group will soon do a feasibility study. Parishioners will not have a timeline for church construction until the study is completed.
The other principal minister at Our Lady of the Lake is Deacon George Lukach, who cares for parish needs on a day-to-day basis. He came to the church four years ago, just after Father Clancy signed on as sacramental minister.
Deacon Lukach’s wife, Garnette, is the president of the parish’s pastoral council. Father Clancy and the Lukaches agree that the new parish is a basic, grass-roots community.
There’s a good mix of all ages, Deacon Lukach said, “very young, singles, children, the elderly.”
Father Clancy said everyone “pitches in; there’s no paid staff. They know they are investing in their own community and there’s a lot of personal ownership.”
Garnette Lukach has done a history of Our Lady of the Lake. She recalled its earliest days, telling how the church community worshipped in the old Scotts Valley schoolhouse. (“Father Eugene Mulligan used to come from Deer Park to say Mass ,” Garnette said, “and he would have to shake the mice out of his vestments.”) From there the congregation moved to the Sunset Bay Cafe for their worship, and then to parishioners’ homes. Catholics joined with other church groups in 1972 to build the community center, which they are now using.
The parish was erected by Bishop William Skylstad at the morning Mass Dec. 1. Father Mike Savelesky, pastor at Assumption Parish, was one of the priests at the festive occasion.
Confessing he felt a little like a “proud parent,” he said Assumption “welcomes the opportunity to give support (to the new parish) in any way we can.”
Sixteen priests have served Our Lady of the Lake, including four African priests from Malawi.
In the afternoon, the parish property was blessed. That event was followed by a dinner and dance.
The property already has a Marian grotto. A labyrinth similar to that in the cathedral in Chartres, France, is being built up on the hill. When it’s finished, Father Clancy said, “it will be just beautiful.”
Deacon Lukach said the church community had known its share of difficult times, but has “grown in their spirituality because of it.” Now, he said, they are experiencing a “time of gratefulness and they are full of praise and gratitude.” That’s one of thei unique qualities, he said.
Another unique quality is their hospitality. “They’re very welcoming and also very generous and compassionate,” said Deacon Lukach. “The parish is noted for its generosity,” reaching out to help whenever and wherever needed.”
The parish is also very devoted to the Blessed Mother. Said Garnette Lukach, “Mary threw her mantle around us, and we are very dedicated to her.”
Bishop William S. Skylstad has announced the following appointment, effective Dec. 1:
• Father Tim Clancy SJ
Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Tum Tum
Announced at the Catholic Pastoral Center Dec. 1, 2002
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