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


Two mark 50 years of priestly service

by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the May 24, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)

On May 30, two retired priests of the Diocese of Spokane will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their ordination to priesthood.

Msgr. James Ribble and Father Edward Caffrey were ordained together, by Bishop Bernard Topel, on May 30, 1957 in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, Spokane.

(Editor’s note: Both priests graciously declined to be interviewed on the occasion of their 50th anniversary of priesthood.)

Born in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Father Caffrey grew up in Rath-drum and Post Falls, Idaho, and Spokane. He graduated from Gonzaga Prep in 1948 and after attending Gonzaga University, in 1953 he entered St. Edward Seminary, near Seattle, completing his studies in 1957.

Summers during his seminary years, the future priest worked for the Service Station Equipment Co., in Spokane. During the summer of 1956 he did religious education work at Immaculate Conception Parish in Republic, Wash. Among his extracurricular activities at the seminary were working on the seminary publication The Harvester, dramatics, and the Major Mission Society, of which he was the president during the 1955-1956 school year.

During the summer following ordination, Father Caffrey served on a temporary basis at the Cathedral and helped out at the Inland Register. That September he became assistant pastor at Spokane’s Sacred Heart Parish, and the following year he became supervisor at Marycliff High School. In July of 1960, Bishop Topel named Father Caffrey as principal at DeSales High School in Walla Walla, where he remained until June, 1968.

After leaving Walla Walla, Father Caffrey became chaplain and director of the Newman Center at Washington State University in Pullman, where he remained until June, 1981. Until May 1983, Father Caffrey was pastor of Spokane’s Assumption Parish, and from there he became pastor of Holy Family Parish in Deer Park. In July of 1993, St. Joseph Parish in Clayton was added to Father Caffrey’s pastoral responsibilities, and in July of 2002 he officially retired from active ministry. Father Caffrey has lived in Pullman since then, helping out occasionally at the Newman Center there.

Born in Duluth, Minn., the future Father Ribble grew up there and in Minneapolis – where he attended St. Anthony School – and Aberdeen, S.D., where he graduated from Aberdeen High School in 1949. He graduated from Carroll College, in Helena, Mont., in 1953, where his spiritual director was Father Bernard Topel, the future Bishop of Spokane. He then did graduate studies in philosophy at Carroll College.

Following ordination, as a summer assignment Father James Ribble temporarily became assistant pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Walla Walla. That September, he became Director of Vocations and a teacher at Bishop White Seminary in Spokane, a position he held until July, 1963, when he became principal of Bishop White Seminary. When Mater Cleri Seminary opened in June, 1965, Father Ribble became its first rector, and he remained there until 1968 when he took over principal’s duties at DeSales High School, Walla Walla.

In the autumn of 1970, Father Ribble enrolled in a graduate program in Communications at Washington State University, in Pullman, and received a doctorate. (Along the way he also earned a master’s degree in education from Gonzaga University, and another master’s, in history, from St. Paul Seminary at the University of Minnesota.) Upon completion of doctoral studies at WSU, he became pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Pullman, where he remained until June, 1976. In August of 1976, Father Ribble became president-rector of Mount Angel Seminary, in St. Benedict, Ore., where he served until June, 1982.

Following a sabbatical from June, 1982, until February, 1983, Father Ribble became rector of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, where he served until his official retirement in July, 2005. In April, 1997, Father Ribble received the honor of being invested as a monsignor. Since his retirement, Msgr. Ribble has made his home in Spokane.


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