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

Religious communities bid farewell to two long-time fund-raisers

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Oct. 2, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

Next week sees the Sisters of the Home Names’ annual Autumn Fair, a Spokane tradition for over two decades. The 2003 event will be the Sisters’ last.

The fair will be held at the Holy Names convent, 2911 W. Fort Wright Drive in Spokane. The dates and times are Tuesday, Oct. 7, 6-8:30 p.m., and Wednesday, Oct. 8, 9:30-11 a.m.

As in years past, the fair features holiday decorations, a craft corner, Christmas items, jewelry, baked goods, Granny’s Attic, and other kinds of items for sale. Young children can enjoy a fishin’ pond. There is also a raffle with one of the prizes a watercolor by Holy Names Sister Paula Mary Turnbull, who is a noted artist. Refreshments are also available.

The fair was held as a “primary way for the Sisters to keep in contact with students, former students and friends,” said Holy Names Sister Eileen Rose Kelly. “They always enjoyed looking up the Sisters they knew.”

The Sisters operated Marycliff High School and Holy Names Academy in Spokane and taught at other Catholic schools in the diocese.

Sister Eileen said that the fair “is not the way it used to be.” The crowd has changed from older women to younger ones... “maybe the children of our students.”

But the major change is in the Sisters. Those who used to work to put on the fair are older now. “The Sisters made many things. But we’re now in our 80s and 90s, and we no longer have the vision or the flexibility in our hands,” she said.

No matter the age of their customers, the Sisters are grateful for their support. And they have also appreciated the assistance from those who helped them put on the fair each year.

The demise of the Autumn Fair is the second such parting of events sponsored by Religious communities.

This past spring saw the last Poor Clares Tea and Style Show. The Franciscan Sisters at the Poor Clares Monastery in Spokane put on the tea for over 30 years.

“People think it’s because we’re fewer in number,” said Poor Clares Sister Mary Rita Dolan, “but that’s not the case. The cost (of putting on the show) was getting very expensive.”

The first tea was held in Providence Auditorium, but as the number of people attending increased, the Sisters had to find a bigger place. They moved over to the Sheraton Hotel, now the DoubleTree, and had remained there ever since.

But there is another reason, one more important. “We started working on it (the show) in November,” Sister Mary Rita said. “Since it was held just before Easter, it took up our whole Lent.” For a group such as the Sisters, that was a serious consideration.

Sister Mary Rita and the other Sisters are very grateful to the people, mostly women, who helped them with the tea each year. “They were so generous and so gracious.”

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