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

After (nearly) 100 years, St. Francis Xavier considers cleaning house with the ‘Mother of All Garage Sales’

the Inland Register

(From the Oct. 23, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

“Look at this mess! What in the world are we going to do with it?” This has been one of the recurring questions in recent months.

“Where in the world are we to find the space to do parish-type functions since we no longer have the auditorium, kitchen, or activity center (gym) to call our own?” This, too, has been a recurring question for the last two years after the facilities were leased to The Boys and Girls Club.

A committee has been appointed to determine answers to these and other questions. With the help of many parishioners, a lot of thought and work has been going into working out this problem.

St. Francis Xavier Parish was founded in 1906. It originally was a Jesuit parish; the first pastor, Father James Rebmann, was a Jesuit. A small church was built on the corner of Standard and Kiernan and a three-story brick school on Standard and Providence. When Father Rebmann left in 1923, he was followed by the first diocesan pastor, Father J. G. Cunningham.

In time a new church, parish house, a modern addition to the school, and gym were constructed. The parish was on the outskirts of Spokane at that time and men returning from the military settled in the vicinity and built new homes in the area.

Soon there were over 600 students attending the school, which was staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of Lacrosse, Wis. With a new spacious auditorium on the bottom floor of the new school addition, large parish gatherings were common and the parish was known far and wide for its annual turkey and ham dinners, followed some years later with spaghetti dinners, craft shows and auctions.

As pastor, Father Bernard Barry worked diligently to reduce the debt and successfully took the parish into yet another era. Father Barry left St. Francis Xavier in 1981 and was followed in succession by Fathers N. F. Kelley, Joseph Hiên, Paul Vevik, and in 2002 Father Daniel Barnett, who serves as pastor for both St. Francis Xavier and St. Patrick Parishes.

As the enrollment in the school steadily decreased to below 80 students - K through 8 - it was decided in 1999 to close the school, which had become an interparochial school, shared with St. Francis of Assisi Parish.

The questions at the beginning of this story are confounding. What to do? The old school building has not been leased out and, in fact, the parish office is on the second floor, as is a center for the youth group. The parish’s St. Vincent de Paul group also uses an area in the basement.

An architect has been sought and the committee has been told that the old three-story brick school was built “like a fortress” to withstand almost anything.

Perhaps that is the answer. Clean it out, modernize it, and use it for a parish center.

The first floor (a half-story down basement-like area) of this old building has been accumulating “junk” for as many years as things needed to be moved around and put “out of the way.” Consequently the parish has a mountain of unneeded items from the school, parish house, gym, and elsewhere that need to be liquidated to make room for some sort of parish facility where the parishioners can meet.

Currently the parish committee is planning to have a monumental MOAGS (Mother of all Garage Sales) in November. The task is overwhelming as there are hundreds of school desks, books, tables, chairs, bookcases, cabinets, science equipment, TV’s, even school uniforms, dishes, collectibles, some antiques, furniture, toys and games from Educare, and miscellany galore.

Perhaps, with a little help from above and the sweat of many, the parish can overcome yet another problem and successfully regain the use of an area for its parish functions After all, it’s only three years until St. Francis Xavier Parish celebrates its 100th anniversary!

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