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

Parishes implement creative approaches to funding settlement

by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the Aug. 2, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)

Every parish in the Diocese of Spokane has accepted a responsibility to help pay $10 million of the $40 million debt incurred by the diocesan bankruptcy settlement. The amount for which each parish is responsible was based on the 2006 Annual Catholic Appeal goals for each parish. Now, in at least two cases, creative parishioners decided to help their parishes both reach its goal and encourage healing and reconciliation in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal and the subsequent events.

Jim Patterson, of St. Anne Parish in Medical Lake, is co-chair of a committee established to begin what he calls “a grass-roots movement for a reconciliation and healing service” to be held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes. 1115 W. Riverside Ave. in Spokane, at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23.

Donna Cori-Gibson (left)

“After the final settlement came out, and we knew what each parish’s responsibility was toward that debt, we knew that within our small parish of 150 families we were going to have a problem trying to raise $111,700,” said Patterson, “especially in light of the fact that a lot of people – and I think this is diocese-wide – feel that they weren’t a part of the problem, and therefore they’re not going to help pay for it, and they don’t agree with what happened, and all this.”

The parish council gathered to brainstorm, he said, and quickly realized that traditional fund-raising gestures like bake sales would be inadequate to the task. “Our vision got to be something on a grander scale to bring in some money,” he said.

As that larger vision grew, they also realized that their true objective was not necessarily just to raise money. “Our primary objective is to bring about some healing and unity within the Church, because we’ve got a broken Church right now,” he said. The money raised by service “has become very, very secondary. In fact, we’re trying not to emphasize the money aspect at all. If it happens, it happens; if it doesn’t, it’s fine. So that’s where we’re heading now, down the reconciliation, the healing and the unity path.

“We’re trying to let the people of the Diocese of Spokane, and the Spokane press – namely the Spokesman-Review,” Spokane’s daily newspaper – “know that we as Catholics are alive and well, and even though we don’t condone what happened in the past, our faith is coming through, we want to forgive, we want to move on and learn from the past, and more importantly we want to move forward in a positive way.”

The committee at St. Anne Parish sent a letter to all the parishes of the diocese. “St. Anne Parish in Medical Lake is starting a grassroots effort,” the letter says, “to bring about a message of reconciliation, renewal, and unity within our Catholic community. With all the negative press and publicity we’re received over the past few years, we feel it is time for us Catholics to re-unite and let the community know that the sins of the past are behind us and we are ready to move forward to create a stronger church community that has learned from and has forgiven the past sins of some of our priests.”

Patterson said they hope to fill the cathedral for the Sept. 23 service. “We have three prominent singers and speakers,” he said, “along with Bishop Skylstad, coming for the three-hour event, which will be open to the public. A free-will offering will be (taken up), with 100 percent of the proceeds going towards the individual parish bankruptcy debt obligations. This will be divided up with 25 percent going to St. Anne, Medical Lake, and 75 percent split evenly between the other parishes (which) help organize, run, and support the event.”

Brendan Case (right)

In addition to Bishop Skylstad, speakers include Catholic singer Donna Cori-Gibson; lay evangelist Brendan Case from Lakeside, Ariz.; and former Senior Pastor Ian Robertson of Spokane Valley Church of the Nazarene, an evangelical minister who will speak on Church unity.

For further information about this event, contact Patterson after 3 p.m. at 509-299-7357, or by email:

Taking another creative approach, at Spokane’s St. Anthony Parish, Allen Peterson decided to organize the kind of event he’s familiar with to help raise funds to pay his parish’s portion of the bankruptcy settlement debt as well as that of sister parish St. Joseph on Spokane’s Dean Avenue. An old hand at organizing classic car shows to benefit various charities, Peterson thought that the same idea could work to help pay off the bankruptcy settlement debt for St. Anthony and St. Joseph Parishes.

“I’ve done eight or 10 of these,” Peterson said. “I’m a member of the Inland Empire Late Great Chevy organization. We’ve raised funds for the Vanessa Behan Crisis Clinic, and Second Harvest Food Bank, and we do one every year at Silverwood theme park (north of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho), and the proceeds always go to charity. I looked at what our car club makes at Sliverwood theme park every year, and for one day’s work there is an incredible amount of return. I thought this would be a good way to help pay back the debt and to have fun doing it!”

The show is set for Saturday, Sept. 15, at on the grounds of St. Anthony Parish, 2320 N. Cedar St., Spokane.

There are over 60 car clubs in the Spokane area, and owners of classic cars, including classic “street rods,” classic stock cars, classic “muscle cars,” and modified “stock” and “muscle” cars are invited to display their vehicles at the show. Peterson will display his classic 1955 Chevrolet Bel Aire 2-door hardtop. “My wife, Linda, who’s the St. Anthony Parish secretary,” Peterson said, “will bring her 1930 Dodge coupe with a rumble seat.”

Classic car owners will pay a $20 registration fee to display their cars. If they pre-register prior to the day of the event, the registration fee is $15. “We’ll have food venders, too,” Peterson said, “and we’re going to suggest to them that they pay maybe 10 percent of what they make. Also, we’ll have a beer garden, and the revenue from a beer garden is always pretty high. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?”

For further information about the classic car show at St. Anthony Parish, call Allen Peterson at 509-323-0500.

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