Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
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Hundreds gather for dedication of Our Lady of Fatima Parish’s new church
Story and photo by Jami LeBrun, Inland Register staff
(From the Feb. 24, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)
Bishop Skylstad dedicated the new church for Our Lady of Fatima Parish on Feb. 4. (IR photo)
On Friday, Feb. 4 Our Lady of Fatima parishioners, parish supporters, priests and Bishop William Skylstad gathered for one last time in the parish’s temporary worship space, affectionately dubbed “St. Gym.”
“Welcome to St. Gymnasium for the last time,” Father Jim Kuhns, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima, said jubilantly to the congregation of over 300 as they eagerly prepared to process over to the newly-completed and long-awaited church building.
As the parishioners slowly processed behind Bishop William Skylstad, Father Kuhns and about 20 other members of the clergy, no one looked back at the dimly lit and yellowish gymnasium that has been the parish’s worship space for the last year. And as they entered the new church, the excited squeals of school children could be heard, and the adults breathed a sigh of relief as they viewed the completed project that took 50 years to become reality.
Bishop Skylstad presided over the very first Mass at Our Lady of Fatima’s very first permanent church. The current and past pastors of Our Lady of Fatima, as well as many other members of the clergy from throughout the diocese, concelebrated.
Once everyone found a place to sit in the tightly-packed church, Bishop Skylstad began by blessing the water in the baptismal font. He then using the freshly blessed water to anoint the walls and the congregation within them.
“It has been a long time in coming,” he said in his homily, extending gratitude to God and to all who worked so diligently for the last three years to see the completion of Our Lady of Fatima Parish’s new church building.
Our Lady of Fatima Parish was established in 1956. The parish school was built first, and the parishioners began worshipping in the school while they waited for a permanent church building to be constructed. In 1959, a temporary church was opened and slated to become the school’s gym once a permanent church was constructed. Instead, another gym was constructed next door for the school children, and for 45 years, parishioners worshipped in the “temporary” space.
Finally, last March, Father Kuhns and the parishioners converted the gym they share with All Saints Catholic School into a temporary worship space – they brought in the pews from the old worship space and built a platform for the alter – and the walls came down on their “temporary” building where the new permanent building was constructed.
In November, Our Lady of Fatima reached a roadblock when the project was suspended due to financial pressures on the diocese. The new church building was to be completed Dec. 3 and dedicated Dec. 10, just in time to celebrate the Advent and Christmas seasons. Unfortunately, without a loan they had planned to borrow from the diocese’s Deposit and Loan Fund, the 90-percent-completed building was stuck at 90 percent. The contractors and construction workers were sent home and the building sat, unused, on the edge of the Our Lady of Fatima campus.
Once again, though, the parishioners who worked so diligently to see the project started banded together to see its completion. Many of them increased their pledges to the project. One anonymous donor gave a six-figure amount and after just a few weeks of waiting, construction resumed.
Pam Fitterer and her husband Jerry have been members of Our Lady of Fatima Parish for nearly 30 years. Pam, like many of her fellow parishioners, served on a committee to help plan, design and build the new church.
“This whole process of building the church has really brought us together,” she said. “The sense of parish, rather than the sense of community has been accomplished through all this work.”
The Fittereers were thrilled to be at the dedication Mass. “It’s like the impossible dream,” said Pam. “And now it’s finally been accomplished.”