Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

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

Sacred Heart Parish, Tekoa: 100 years and going strong

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the June 12, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

Parishioners gathered for the festivities when Sacred Heart Parish, Tekoa, dedicated its prayer garden in the autumn of 2000. Seated at left is Bishop Skylstad. Also attending was Sacramento’s Bishop William Weigand, a Tekoa native. (IR photo from Sacred Heart Parish, Tekoa)

Sacred Heart Parish in Tekoa notes 100 years this month, and plans a Mass and reception to celebrate.

But there’s another reason for celebration. Six parish children will receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Mass. The six children receiving Sacraments are Jade Boganreif, Kayler Dub, Devon Flock, Andrew Goode and Nicole and Zachary Zimmerman.

The happy event is scheduled for Sunday, June 29, at the church on 822 N. Washington Street in Tekoa. Bishop Skylstad will preside at the 11:15 a.m. Mass.

The church’s history dates back to the late 1890s. Jesuit priests from the nearby Idaho settlement of Desmet would come to the fledgling community on the banks of Hangman Creek to say Mass for the Catholics who had settled in the area, including Frank Connell, the founder of Tekoa.

In 1892, at the request of the Jesuit priests who lived at nearby Desmet, Idaho, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia came to Tekoa and started Mount St. Joseph Academy on a hill overlooking the town. Catholics worshiped with the Sisters at the school and would travel to Desmet for Sunday Mass.

Mount St. Joseph alumni of note include Sacramento’s Bishop William Weigand and the late Father Jim McGreevy, former Guatemala missionary.

In 1895 Father W. Amschwand was assigned to the area. Three years later he built the first church, just down the hill from the school. In 1903 the church was moved up the hill and placed more directly across from the school property. As the population grew, the church was enlarged and remodeled.

At its peak, the city of Tekoa was a thriving railroad community of nearly 3,000 souls. The town’s economic fortunes declined when the railroad pulled out in the 1940s. Enrollment declines forced closure of the school in 1950; five years later, the building was destroyed by fire.

Sacred Heart Parish is small, with about 28 families, but very active. A prayer group has met weekly since 1977. It has a strong religious education program for adults and children. One long-time popular event is the Holiday Fair, a craft sale and lunch put on by the women of the parish.

In 1992-94 the parish remodeled the unused rectory, turning it into a parish center. Parishioners donated almost half the project’s $95,000 cost and pledges were paid 100 percent. Parishioners donated many volunteer hours toward the project as well.

In 1998 the parish was given a donation by Bishop Weigand to honor the Sisters who built the school and the memory of his parents. Volunteers built a prayer garden on the north side of the church, complete with fountain and statue of St. Francis of Assisi.

At 13 years, Father Patrick Moffatt served the parish the longest of any of its priests. Bishop Skylstad also served the parish briefly in 1961.

Even though he officially retired a year ago, Father Eugene Glatt, who served eight years, continues to come to Tekoa to offer Sunday Mass. Effective July 1, Father Steve Dublinski is the new pastor.

The Mass and reception are open to the public.

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