Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
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Washington State Realtors honor Father Weitensteiner as ‘Citizen of the Year’
the Inland Register
(From the Oct. 26, 2006 edition of the Inland Register)
Father Joseph Weitensteiner receives the “Citizen of the Year” award from James Young, on behalf of the Washington State Realtors. (IR photo from Morning Star Boys’ Ranch)
On Sept. 20, Father Joseph Weitensteiner, retired director of Morning Star Boys’ Ranch, was honored by the 24,000-member statewide organization of Realtors © as its Citizen of the Year for 2005. Earlier this year, Father Weitensteiner was named the Spokane Association of Realtors © Citizen of the Year. He was nominated in part for both honors by James D. Young, a Morning Star resident from 1971-78, now a realtor and the incoming president of the Spokane association. The following is excerpted from remarks by Young during presentation of the award at the Realtors’ state convention in Spokane.
“Before I introduce Father Joe, let me share a story about a young man who lived at Morning Star Boys’ Ranch, nicknamed “the Colonel”…. This youngster came from a home where physical and emotional abuse was pretty much a daily routine. With no father in the picture and being in constant fear of abuse, it’s not to hard to see how this child would turn to skipping school, fighting, running away, and many encounters with law enforcement, juvenile detention and the court system. The Colonel would spend seven years between the Ranch and his dysfunctional family.
“Like many of the Ranch kids I have gotten to know over the years, the Colonel didn’t realize how fortunate he was at the time to be able to call Morning Star Boys’ Ranch home – to have a clean room and bed, three meals a day and the guidance of so many caring people who were often the only ones to believe in them.
“Many of his joyful experiences were as a result of being able to call Morning Star home. His first trip out of Spokane was with Father Joe and others on a trip to Seattle to see the Space Needle. The Colonel also reminisces about learning to snow ski at Mt. Spokane with leather lace-up boots and spending many summer nights at Lake Coeur d’Alene. Yes, there were fun times, but … you were (also) expected to contribute to the good of the order doing yard work, caring for the animals and keeping the place in tip-top shape.
“Father Joe instilled great values – values like hard work, honesty, dependability, leaving things better than you found them, and of course believing you have value and can make a difference in the world.
“So you may be wondering if any of these troubled young men – who some in society consider castaways and too damaged to salvage – have pulled off the big upset. The answer is absolutely yes! Because Father Joe believed in these young men when no one else did, some have gone on to become attorneys, bankers, business owners, a rocket scientist, investors, career military men, and especially great fathers and husbands.
“Where’s the Colonel today? He pursued a career in real estate.”
Morning Star itself has been regarded locally and nationally as a leader in childcare, earning the AGORA Award for Excellence for non-profit organizations from the Spokane Chamber of Commerce in both 1995 and 2005.