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 March 18, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

Catholic education


I write in response to Gary White’s letter, “In Praise of Catholic Education” (“Letters to the Editor,” IR 2/26/04).

It is indeed a pity that the author chose to praise Catholic schools not by highlighting their benefits, but rather by labeling public school Catholics as either financially cheap or as lazy disciplinarians. The latter criticism is especially ironic, as Catholic school parents are often labeled by their public school counterparts as abdicating responsibility for their children’s discipline to the school system, underscoring the unfortunate stereotype of the wild Catholic school kid. No one can make an appropriate school choice for their children by relying on generalizations and stereotypes.

My own children began their schooling in the Catholic system. After two years we realized their unique academic needs were not being met and they transferred to public school. There we found the diversity of programs provided for them better. Does our experience mean public schools are the better choice for all children? Of course not. Does it make Catholic school bad? No. It simply means that no one knows what is best for a child better than that child’s parents.

Passing judgment on public school Catholics based on assumptions and bias is not, I believe, what Jesus would do.

Mary Douthitt, Spokane

Thanks for editorial


I just wanted to let you know how I appreciated your article “As we’re called, not as we need” (IR 2/26/04). It was very well done. I say “amen.”

I read the paper now more than I have in the past, as I do believe you share so many interesting articles.

Thanks for this article. You do much for the Inland Register to be a tool of evangelization.

Father John Birk, Pasco, Wash.

Italian tradition in Walla Walla


I would like to inform of a tradition that ties in with the beautiful feast of honoring St. Joseph (March 19).

The Italians of Sicily began the custom to him in the 17th century. The early Italian immigrants brought this tradition with them when they came to America. It was celebrated primarily on the eastern coast of the United States. Seemed to disappear with the influx of generations becoming assimilated to American ways in the early 20th century. The “old ways and traditions were sometimes things of past.”

A half century passed. Our children and grand children, wanting to learn of their Italian cultural heritage, brought about the formation of many Italian American groups and organizations in America. One was The Italian Heritage Association of Walla Walla, formed in November 1985. Membership consists mostly of local members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish.

In 1995, Italian Heritage Association decided to revive the beautiful Italian tradition of St. Joseph. Legacy states that there was a severe drought in Sicily with most of population in region starving. The people held a vigil and prayed to St. Joseph to help them. After the novena the rains came and provided the water to sustain the crops, primarily the “Fava Bean.” This was mashed to form a flour to make bread, as well as cooked in many ways for meals with the bean. To this day, it is a staple there and many of the “old timers” raised this in their gardens throughout America. The people of Sicily made a promise that they would designate March 19, to honor and thank St. Joseph for sparing them. They collected food to feed the poor, and created “A Tavola” (a table) laden with special desserts and goodies to give to everyone in attendance.

Italian Heritage Association has had this tradition for a few years, only with variations. They have held dinners with all proceeds going to the local Hospice, as well as collected foods and distributed it to many needy agencies throughout the area.

This year they will hold a Breakfast Benefit after the 9 a.m. St. Francis of Assisi Sunday Mass, at the Parish Hall on March 20. 2004. Moneys from the breakfast will be distributed for Italian Heritage Association community projects. Canned foods, non perishable foods, soaps, toothpaste, toiletries, etc. collected will be donated to a local agency for those in need.

St. Francis Church was originally founded in 1915 as a spiritual home for the local Italian immigrants. Arrival of an early Italian came to valley from Lucca, Tuscany Italy as a member of the U.S. Cavalry in 1855. There are many fourth and fifth generation Italian families living in the valley. A few farming the soil first cultivated by their Italian ancestors and growing the famous Walla Walla Sweet Onions their forefathers originated. (Onion seed was brought to the valley by a French soldier from Corsica, Italy.)

Carmela “Carmy” Buttice, Walla Walla, Wash.

Liturgical posture ‘distracting’


I feel I, too, must write and express my dislike of one recent physical change in our stature at Mass – that of standing after reception of the Most Holy Eucharist until all have received (“Letters to the Editor,” IR 2/26/04).

I find this to be very distracting. To me, kneeling with a bowed head in prayerful meditation is a much more fitting way to reflect on the presence of Christ within me – much more worshipful than keeping an eye open to see if all have communicated.

Even the “Prayer Before the Crucifix” that many of us pray after Communion says, “I humbly kneel before Thee.”

Being a cradle Catholic, I’ve gone through many other changes, so I’ll adjust, but not joyfully.

Ann Heitstuman, Pomeroy, Wash.

‘Catholic’ politicians?

This is to support the request of L.M. Konen of Walla Walla for an article on Archbishop Burke and his stance on Catholic politicians who support abortion (“Letters to the Editor,” IR 2/26/04).

At least one election this fall in our state involves a Catholic woman senator (Patty Murray) who is pro-abortion, and now we have a candidate for United States president (John Kerry) who is Catholic, yet strongly supports and works for abortion rights.

Perhaps the courageously outspoken Archbishop Burke will inspire more bishops, priests and Catholic newswriters to speak out to people of good will about the natural moral law and its pre-eminence over other issues when casting our ballots.

We believe that Catholic politicians should not and cannot support abortion. We also believe that candidates who are pro-abortion are disqualified from a Catholic’s vote. Are we wrong?

Dave and Ann Petty, Spokane

Sexual abuse


If asked, we would have demanded that our clergy and church leaders protect our children from sexual abuse.

If asked, we would have implored our church leaders to seek whatever means possible to compensate those who were abused.

But since we haven’t been asked, we must instead proclaim: We do not share the flawed plan of our diocese to spend diocesan funds to pay attorneys and lobbyists to reduce the money paid to victims of our priests.

Genn Rollins, Spokane

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