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

Tabernacle makes trip through history to St. Mary Parish

the Inland Register

(From the Jan. 15, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

Joe WetzlerJoe Wetzler of St. Mary Parish, Spokane Valley, stands next to the historic tabernacle he recently refurbished. (IR photo from Msgr. John Steiner)

It’s been a long a winding road for the new tabernacle in St. Mary Parish’s Blessed Sacrament chapel.

More than being a new addition to the chapel, the tabernacle represents a few values: the importance of history; the measure of craftsmanship; an appreciation of simple toil by hand.

The tabernacle originally was used in St. Ann Parish in Spokane. When that parish was renovated some years ago, the tabernacle was sheltered by the Kienbaum family, parishioners at St. Mary.

St. Mary’s Blessed Sacrament chapel had a tabernacle of its own – described as “a simple square box” by the pastor, Msgr. John Steiner.

Parishioners had been working informally for some time to replace the tabernacle, “and I told them I would certainly support that effort,” Msgr. Steiner said.

During dinner with parishioners the subject of the tabernacle arose, and with the subject the information regarding the whereabouts of the old St. Ann tabernacle. The item had been in storage since leaving that parish some years ago.

“I was invited to take a look (at the warehoused tabernacle),” Msgr. Steiner said. “It was old, and warehouse dirty, and in need of some refurbishing, but I thought it would be perfect for the Blessed Sacrament chapel at St. Mary.”

The Kienbaums agreed to donate the object.

Next came restoring the tabernacle. Up stepped Joe Wetzler, a long-time St. Mary parishioner and a member of the local Knights of Columbus Council. He had been working with the Knights for a number of years on the tabernacle project and agreed to do the restoration on the St. Ann tabernacle.

“Joe took on the task with gusto,” said Msgr. Steiner. “Some people in the parish kidded him that he was the only guy in town with a tabernacle in his pickup for most of the last three months.”

The parish displayed the tabernacle in the parish’s gathering space. By the end of the weekend enough money had been contributed to cover the cost of the refurbishing.

Wetzler completely dismantled the tabernacle for re-plating. The lock mechanism was repaired. When the work was completed the tabernacle was again displayed in the parish, on the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

The tabernacle was installed in the chapel on the first Saturday after Christmas.

“It is a memorable piece of this history of the Church in Spokane, now newly prepared as an appropriate and honorable place to repose the sacrament at St. Mary Parish,” said Msgr. Steiner. “And as soon as it was placed in the Chapel, Joe Wetzler got out his polish to make sure that this new tabernacle for the Lord was shinning brightly and without fingerprints.”

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