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

Letters to the Editor

(From the Feb. 26, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

How to write to us

The Inland Register encourages letters to the editor. First preference is letters that are typed, double-spaced, and under 500 words in length. Letters which have been printed elsewhere are not reprinted in the IR. Letters may be submitted by postal mail, e-mail or fax, but must be signed, and include an address and phone number so we can contact the writer, if necessary. Names can be withheld upon request. Try to be civil.

Mail letters to:
Editor, Inland Register, P.O. Box 48, Spokane, WA 99210.


Fax: Inland Register, (509) 358-7302

Seminary campaign


I have grave concerns over the current capital campaign to raise $10 million for a new seminary and the training of seminarians. Some of my questions involve fiscal responsibility and the priorities of the diocese:

• What is the yearly diocesan budget for training and formation of lay ministers?

• How much will the diocese pay the fund raising company who has organized this capital campaign? How does that compare to what the diocese is willing to pay to victims of sexual abuse by clergy, people who have been deeply wounded by our current system of priestly ministry?

• What is the yearly salary of those employed by the fund raising company for this campaign? How do their salaries compare to the annual pay for pastoral administrators in our diocese?

Other questions are more theological and philosophical in nature:

• In their training for ministry, will there be a component of service, with seminarians living with and serving the poor of our diocese, since we will be paying for their education? “We” include many people in our diocese on fixed incomes, others with little discretionary income, and others who are paying to educate their own children.

• Have we learned nothing from the ongoing scandal of sexual abuse and abuse of power by priests and bishops? Do we really think it is a good idea to continue to educate seminarians in an ivory tower of privilege, isolated from the people they are to minister to and with in the future?

• Do we really want representatives of the fund raising company hired by the diocese to be “Associate Director – Education of Seminarians” for our diocese, as it states on their business cards?

Thank you for your prayerful consideration.

Shonna Marie Bartlett, Spokane


One usually doesn’t chip away at the foundation unless one wants to destroy the building. Ms. (Rebecca) Nappi (writing in The Spokesman Review, Spokane’s daily newspaper) states that she loves the church, but publicly attacks an important capital campaign because she doesn’t like the timing of it, and because she wants a more important role for women in the church. I believe that working for positive change within an organization accomplishes much more than attacking it either publicly or behind closed doors.

The Portland Diocese recently completed a major capital campaign amid a similar concern about the timing. Ironically, the success of the campaign far surpassed anyone’s expectations.

Ms. Nappi states that more time is needed for healing. Interestingly enough, some unanticipated healing seems to be occurring in my parish as the capital campaign process unfolds.

Rather than attack the foundation, we need to continuously build and strengthen church.

Carol Normandeau, Spokane


Rebecca Nappi’s recent article (in the Spokesman-Review) stating her intent not to support the current campaign of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane for the education of seminarians, candidates to the ordained priesthood, because of timing in light of the current crisis of sexual abuse of children by some priests many years ago and her personal feelings about the debate about celibacy of priests and ordination of women, caused me to ponder who I am as a Catholic Christian and what is my sense of church and its mission and my part in it.

I am a Christian, who was not always in the Roman Catholic expression but also spent some 30 years in the Episcopal Church. Through church I have been nurtured, taught and inspired by the message of the Gospel, good news, preserved and handed down by the Church by those ordained or called in a special ministry to do so. Through church I experience the presence of God, Father,Son and holy Spirit regularly through word and sacrament, particularly in Eucharist, in communion with my brothers and sisters, members of the body of Christ, called as disciples to … teach all nations … and spread the Good News. We are all commissioned and called to continue Jesus’ mission by our baptism.

So, what is my response? I am not ordained to the special and specific ministry of the priesthood, I am a layman. As a catholic christian am I called to ministry and as a baptized member of the body of Christ am I called to service? Yes! Is my ministry and service less valid than the ordained priesthood? No! As a Catholic Christian a significant part of my nurture in the Catholic expression of my faith is in the Sacraments of the Church, particularly Eucharist, the communion of the faithful. Without our priests we would not experience Church as we know it now and into the immediate future:

We need to encourage young men to consider the call to the priesthood and we need to support them in their response. Where will that support come from? From Catholics! My wife and I took time to consider our response to the campaign and have responded Yes with our pledge.

Getting back to Rebecca Nappi’s article, it appears to me she has another agenda beyond those stated. I think we have been enticed into expressing our views and pondering our response. Ah, publicity! Who knows what God’s will is for that agenda in the future? The needs of the Church are in the present and have to be addressed now. I hope, as Catholics, you will all take time to prayerfully consider your response and your support as my wife and I have.

Thank you, and thank you, Rebecca.

Tom Crossan, Spokane


Many letters have come in regarding Rebecca Nappi’s public confession that she will not be donating to the new seminary.

First of all, it was her opinion, and rather than the front page, should be with the opinions to the editor.

Were they to include quarters for women in these days of “Catholic bashing” that would be more food for the grinders.

It is, to me, an affront to our many fine, dedicated priests, which is the bulk of them.

I joined the Catholic Church in high school because of the example of a dear Catholic friend, after attending Adventist, Episcopal and Presbyterian (churches). It was a great gift from God and I shall never be sorry.

True, mistakes have been made in every faith, but Mass is offered each day, which gives us frequent worship. Our priests are dedicated. I hope the faithful will donate more because of the criticism.

She’s a great writer.

Women, only, can bring human beings into the world, a great blessing and privilege. We are richly blessed in so many ways.

Wanna Lee Bartol, Spokane

Grocery strike


I read with interest the advertisement sponsored by Joe and Mary Ambrosi (IR 2/5/04) regarding the supermarket employees in California. My son Patrick has worked in the grocery business for 26 years and his wife Lisa for 15. They are hardworking and loyal employees and active members of their church and community. They have two young children: Matthew is eight and Shannon is six, and even if they were not my grandchildren, I would have to say they are beautiful children: kind, generous and full of fun.

The ad is completely true and I pray the good people of Spokane will support the dependable and conscientious employees in their efforts to get back to work while maintaining their current contract.

I thank the Inland Register for publishing the ad and I especially thank Joe and Mary Ambrosi for their active participation and assistance against this injustice. God bless them both!

Please do not patronize Safeway, Albertson’s and Fred Meyer. Your help will be deeply cherished by the 70,000 out-of-work grocery clerks here in Southern California, as well as their friends and families. Thank you!

Eileen O’Neill, Canoga Park, Calif.

In praise of Catholic education


This is the time of year when choices are being made by families as to which high school their eighth graders will attend next year.

As the parent of kids in Catholic school and an alumnus of Gonzaga Prep, I get frustrated when other parents advise they are going to send their child to public high school because “Johnny wants to go where his friends are going.” That is a total abdication of parental responsibility. Since when is a 14-year-old who is not even shaving yet allowed to make a major life decision on his own? In any event, why allow an eighth grader to make a decision on who his or her grade school friends are at present? Rarely do we keep the same friends as we grow up and move from childhood into adulthood. Some parents are just a little too timid to act as parents and risk losing some “friendship” from their kids.

The whole issue of cost of Catholic school tuition is sometimes a convenient excuse. No question that paying tuition at G-Prep means waiting a few extra years to buy a new car, and making some sacrifices like taking out financing. Fair Share tuition and financial pre-planning makes that less of a valid excuse than it used to be, although granted, some truly have a valid economic excuse. Apart from students who have disabilities requiring special educational requirements, most parents really are making excuses when they send their kids to public school. They ought to at least be intellectually honest and just say “I am too cheap to send my kid to Catholic school.”

Gary D. White, Spokane Valley, Wash.

Catholic politicans


Could you please give us an article on Archbishop Burke and Catholic politicians? Will the Archbishop of Washington give his support? Certainly Catholic senators need to be held accountable for their votes in supporting the heinous crime of abortion!

L.M. Konen, Walla Walla, Wash.



Tom Sherry’s observations about the disrespect for the Eucharist in Spokane area churches is a serious issue for many. Sherry echoes the emerging attitude of many in other parts of the U.S. who sense that something is seriously wrong with today’s American Catholicism. The newer response elsewhere is to spend millions to restore their meeting halls to a more traditional “House of God” configuration — a start towards a better focus on God within the community of the faithful and the Eucharist.

We here on the left coast, however, are in a time warp, trapped in the bygone hootenanny days of our parents and grandparents. The Kumbaya theology of that era started the de-emphasis of the Eucharist in favor of a hallelujah comradery. The related church architecture puts the tabernacle somewhere near the snack machines where it won’t distract the people’s “Ain’t we all O.K?” togetherness. In Spokane we still build churches that way!

And the Eucharist? Here, instead of kneeling in internal prayer as part of the Communion experience as many learned when catechism was still taught, our liturgy gestapo prefers something totally mindless like just standing around and gawking. This silly version of community only separates the prayerful even more from the Eucharist. But worse, it reinforces the egos of those of the shepherd class who gauge their worth by how outrageously they can manipulate the most trusting among their flock.

We saw many of the hootenanny kind leave the Church to find more satisfying community in leftist politics and now, as the aging faithful who learned catechism continue to die off, we can only expect church membership to decline. We know that the results of Eucharistic neglect and sexual perversions have not improved Christian piety and the benefits of adopting partisan and feminist agendas are not certain. We need to find a surer way of restoring Catholicism — perhaps through rererence to history or the theology of the Crucifixion and the Last Supper.

John M. Michels, Spokane


I believe in doctrine and discipline. Anyone who loves the Church and strives to be in good standing with her knows exactly what I mean. Recently, our pastor asked us to stand during the entire Communion of the Faithful. He implied that there was to be no more of the individual piety. And he explicitly stated that this was not his idea but that of a higher authority. All that aside, the change seemed to come down to us in the guise of doctrine when, in fact, it’s a matter of discipline.

As you might expect, many parishioners are bothered by this latest change; I myself am among that group. We are not a bunch of ultra-conservatives, but are simply Catholics trying to make sense of all this. Well, at a time like this, one takes the matter directly to the Master, where refreshment for the burdened is always a prayer away. You may view this letter as the fruit of my reflection with him and with some “members of his Body.”

Whatever the case, it does give me a degree of peace.

First of all, Vatican II reminds us that Jesus is very much with us. However, he is present more than one way! My focus here is on two of those “ways.” He is, to be sure, present in the People of God. We are his Body, in which the Holy Spirit leads us on the pilgrimage to eternity, and this same Spirit directs our steps in the Procession to Holy Communion. But secondly, and far more importantly, Jesus is present in the Eucharist, which Vatican II calls the presence par excellence! Now, when the two “presences” show up in the same picture, it seems clear to me which of the two should be emphasized. It is called Holy Communion, not Holy Procession!

There are consequences to this change in the procedures for Communion. Isn’t it just possible that some will lose their faith in the presence of Christ in the Sacred Species? Might we not come to think of our communion with the Faithful as Holy Communion and view the very Cause of this communion as “significant” but a significant “other”?

Therefore, I believe care should be taken that the individual communicants do everything possible to preserve their faith in the par excellence presence — the Blessed Sacrament! By a kneeling posture and a bowed head after Communion we are telling each other what has just happened and what is happening. Sh-h-h, the Master is speaking to me.

Could it be that what the Master was found doing for those Jews in the Temple of Jerusalem at the age of 12, he is now doing for the communicant in this temple of the Holy Spirit? I would like to think of my post-Communion time as just that. But can I really manage that possible scene, while singing a song, as people process by me for the next five to 10 minutes? I presume that the “higher authority” imposing the change thinks it can be done.

Walter F. Stichart, Colville, Wash.

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