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
Walla Walla’s St. Francis of Assisi Parish: 90 years young
by Sister Sharon Bongiorno FSPA, for the Inland Register
(From the Dec. 1, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)
Left: Father Pat Kerst and 90-plus-year-old St. Francis of Assisi parishioner Ann Curcio.
From the Walla Walla Sunday Bulletin of Oct. 31, 1915:
“St. Francis church, the new Catholic church being erected in this city for the Italian Catholics living here, is practically completed, and will be dedicated tomorrow morning with fitting services. The new structure is located at the corner of Tenth and Alder streets and will be a distinct addition to the large number of impressive church buildings already in the city.”
Ninety years later, on Oct. 30, 2005, the parish gathered together to celebrate the parish’s 90th anniversary. Bishop William Skylstad concelebrated the festival Mass with Fathers Pat Kerst (pastor), Pedro Baustista Peraza (parochial vicar), Bill Brennan (retired). Deacon Jim Barrow assisted.
The theme of the celebration, “Welcome this Moment, This Day of Sweet Grace,” rang out with trumpet fanfare as the procession entered the church.
Right: Bishop William Skylstad, Providence Sister Rosalie Locati, and 90-plus-year-old parishioner Julia Taylor. (IR photos from St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Walla Walla)
The Mass was followed by a catered dinner attended by over 200 parishioners and guests. Special recognition was given to the 17 parishioners in the parish who are 90 years of age or older; of that group, 12 were in attendance at the dinner. The parish boasts one centenarian: Caroline Arbini, who turned 100 in March.
The names were read of the nearly 60 parishioners who had died since the last anniversary celebration in 2000.
From the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin of Oct. 28, 2005:
“In Sister Sharon Bongiorno’s office (parish Pastoral Minister), massive scrapbooks – filled with monochrome photos glued to pages aged to the hue of butternut squash – are testimony to the evolving nature of St. Francis and its people. From a chilly day in 1915, three men in fedoras and overcoats look proudly into the future from the steps of the simple, plank-sided church with twin leaded, arched front windows. In that moment, St. Francis was poised to be an answer to prayer. Close to a century later, the scrapbooks reveal a newer church building and parish rectory. A separate fellowship hall, completed in 2002, sits on the corner where the first structure welcomed worshippers….”