Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Msgr. Pearson retires; after 39 years, ‘I’d do it again in a heartbeat’
by Jami LeBrun, Inland Register staff
(From the May 20, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)
On June 30, after serving the Spokane Diocese for nearly 40 years, Msgr. Robert Pearson will turn over the administrative duties at Spokane’s St. Augustine Parish for life as a retired priest.
Born and raised in Spokane, Msgr. Pearson has supported the diocese in numerous ways since he was ordained in 1965. He served as assistant pastor at St. Charles Parish in Spokane before becoming the diocesan supervisor at Marycliff High School. He went on from there to serve as the Director of Religious Education at DeSales High School in Walla Walla. In 1970 he became a chaplain at the Veteran’s Hospital in Walla Walla. He has served as pastor at Holy Ghost and St. Anthony Parish and St. Mary Parish in Spokane. He also served as Vicar for Priests and is currently the Director of Continuing Education for the Clergy.
“I’m very grateful to God and then to the three bishops I’ve served with and the opportunities they’ve given me to serve the people of Eastern Washington,” said Msgr. Pearson. “There are a great number of things I have done under their direction.”
For the last 15 years Msgr. Pearson has also been the Pastor for St. Augustine Parish, where he has worked diligently to develop a vibrant and healthy parish faith community. Under his leadership, St. Augustine has eliminated its debt and expanded its buildings and ministries, including the addition of a Parish Center, a gym, additional classrooms, and expanded offices and meeting spaces. Msgr. Pearson is very proud and appreciative of his generous parishioners who constantly reach out to one another and their fellow men through a variety of prayers groups and social justice initiatives, including avid ministry to the poor. For the last several years St. Augustine has even supported a sister parish, Sacred Heart in Brewster.
“Msgr. Pearson has been a very efficient administrator, a strong spiritual leader and a friend to his parishioners,” said Liz Sestero, a parishioner at St. Augustine. “My personal experience at St. Augustine Parish under his guidance is that if you are seeking to nourish your personal relationship with God, and then put your faith in action in the community, St. Augustine’s offers many opportunities and support in that effort. This is the core of our faith and Msgr. Pearson’s leadership has been integral in moving our parish in this direction.”
Msgr. Pearson says he will truly miss the parishioners at St. Augustine.
“It’s difficult to say good-bye,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing right now. I’ve been a father to all these people – we’re a family.”
Though he looks forward to the absence of many of his administrative duties after retirement, Msgr. Pearson will continue to keep a busy schedule. He plans to help out in parishes whenever he is needed, and already has nearly every Sunday between now and November filled with Masses. Bishop Skylstad has also asked Msgr. Pearson so continue to serve as Director of Continuing Education for the Clergy, a position he has filled since August of 2003.
Upon retirement, Msgr. Pearson will move into Bishop White Seminary, where he will act as the Senior Priest in Residence. He will assist with the pastoral formation program, helping to place each seminarian in a specific ministry and service position to help them better develop their formation.
Despite his busy schedule, Msgr. Pearson has been actively involved in Bishop White Seminary throughout his career, helping in the formation of the seminarians and acting as a spiritual director.
“Msgr. Pearson is one of the most dedicated and intelligent priests I have met in my time at Bishop White Seminary,” said Joe Previtali, a seminarian studying for the Archdiocese of San Francisco under Msgr. Pearson’s spiritual direction. “His spiritual guidance during my time of discernment was of inestimable value. As I leave to study in Rome this next year I will really miss his consistent presence in my life.”
Father Darrin Connall, Bishop White’s rector Vocations Director for the Diocese of Spokane, looks forward to working more closely with the monsignor.
“Msgr. Pearson taught me how to serve Mass when I was in 5th grade,” said Father Connall. “It’ll be great to have him around. He’ll have a very positive impact on the seminarians.”
His transition into retirement has given Msgr. Pearson a lot of time to reflect on his career as a priest.
“I feel a really genuine sense of happiness in the life I’ve led as a priest. I’ve never wanted to do anything else. Sometimes people will ask me if I’d do it again, and I say yes. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It’s been a very happy life for me,” he said.