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

Bishop Skylstad: ‘No one lives out loving commitment like Morning Star’

the Inland Register

(From the Nov. 16, 2006 edition of the Inland Register)

Morning Star Boys’ Ranch residents hold a brightly colored “Jubilee Tree” banner that features 1,289 golden leaves representing the number of boys who have resided at the Ranch since it opened in January, 1957. Boys worked with MSBR creative arts specialist Sue Rolando (standing, top right) to fashion the banner. Seated is MSBR director emeritus, Father Joseph M. Weitensteiner, holding county, state and federal proclamations lauding his ministry and the mission of Morning Star. (IR photo courtesy of Morning Star Boys’ Ranch)

Describing Morning Star Boys’ Ranch’s half century of “loving service” to youth as a mission that has “demanded patience, and compassion, and understanding, and love,” Bishop William Skylstad asked participants at an Oct. 27 benefit dinner to be “mindful of the legacy and special mission of this institution.”

Morning Star “has always lived the Gospel mandate of loving neighbor as self,” the bishop told the more than 300 persons attending the celebration marking the Ranch’s golden jubilee. The event also honored its long-time director, Father Joseph M. Weitensteiner.

“At the best of times, in the best of circumstances, each of us is created by God as richly complex,” said Bishop Skylstad. “But the hearts of young people – particularly young people who have been hurt, who are struggling, who are trying to deal with the pain life has visited on them … (this) mission that focuses on the development of young people is so profoundly intricate, so very delicate. It is a mission that makes demands: demands of patience, and compassion, and understanding, and love.

“The very ministry of presence – of being present with love and with support and with care – during the times when young people are most fragile, most vulnerable – is a loving service in and of itself, not only to the individual, but the wider community as well. And no one lives out this loving commitment like Morning Star,” the bishop said.

During remarks delivered before saying grace for the evening meal, the bishop also lauded Father Weitensteiner, the priest known to the larger community simply as “Father Joe.”

“I hope our presence here this evening expresses far more eloquently than any words … our love for you, our profound gratitude for your dedicated service to our young people, and your vision of the potential within every one of those who have come to Morning Star,” said Bishop Skylstad.

Father Weitensteiner was Morning Star’s first child care worker when it opened its doors in January 1957. After ordination in 1966, he was named Ranch director, a position he held for four decades, until May of this year. The MSBR board of directors recently named the priest “director emeritus.”

During the celebration, county, state and federal proclamations were read, praising both Morning Star and Father Weitensteiner’s ministry.

A gift of $25,000 to the recently formed Morning Star Boys’ Ranch Foundation from Michael and Muffy Murphy was announced. Proceeds from the evening also benefited the indedependent Foundation.

Father Weitensteiner was also presented a work-in-progress gift of a specially commissioned creation for him and Morning Star by Inland Northwest artist Ken Spiering.

Morning Star Boys’ Ranch was founded in 1956 after the Spokane Diocese received a bequest of farmland. The donor requested that the land be used to support a boys’ ranch. Today, Morning Star is a residential facility for boys ages 10-17.

The evening prior to the Convention Center benefit, a reunion of Morning Star alumni, former and current staff, and board members (old and new) was held at Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights. More than 150 persons attended.

Moving moments of both evenings included testimonials by Ranch alumni who described how their lives had been influenced for good at Morning Star.

More information about Morning Star is available on the Ranch web site:

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