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

For St. Francis of Assisi Parish’s office manager, being
Catholic means ‘practicing what we preach, loving and
accepting people where they are in their own journey’

Story and photo by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the April 10, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Anitra Turney (seated), office manager for St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Spokane, works closely with volunteer Bob Taylor (left) and Franciscan Father Michael Blackburn, the pastor. (IR photo)

For nine years Anitra Turney has held down the 25-hours-per-week position of Office Manager at Spokane’s St. Francis of Assisi Parish. “There are many things I like about my job,” she said. “I enjoy working with the parishioners. I like searching for bulletin items that help me, and hopefully others, learn more about our faith.”

Prior to the arrival of Franciscan Father Michael Black-burn, St. Francis of Assisi’s current pastor, the office manager’s job had become a volunteer position, “to save money,” Turney said. “I volunteered to do one day a week. No one else volunteered, so one day became two, which became four, so the decision was made to hire me.”

A summary of her job description, Turney said, is likely to look like that of most parish secretaries and office managers. “I do all of the above!” she said.

St. Francis of Assisi’s office manager has found that her job has had a profound impact on her faith and understanding of what it means to be Catholic. “The church is so big and universal,” she said, “and it embraces everyone. There is so much richness, tradition, and history in the church. I don’t know if I will ever stop learning, (as) we have over 2,000 years of history. Working here has taught me that being Catholic is more than knowing the catechism, which is extremely important, but (it is) putting it to use, practicing what we preach, loving and accepting people where they are in their own journey. I have learned that prayer is more important than we will ever know, but (it) seems to be the hardest thing to do.”

Turney said that parish volunteer Bob Taylor “is forever teaching me new things, “and he does whatever is asked with a smile! I love to laugh, and we do a lot of that in the office, sometimes hysterically. Father Mike and I get along like brother and sister, and Bob Taylor is like our uncle. We have similar senses of humor, so we are always trying to make one another laugh. I feel very fortunate to have my job.”

Father Blackburn has no trouble coming up with good words to say about his parish’s secretary. “When I first came to be pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in August 2004,” Father Blackburn said, “I wasn’t sure of where to begin. It was Anitra who filled me in on most of what I needed to know. I was amazed by her versatility, and still am. As our parish secretary and office manager, Anitra has done a wonderful job. Not only does she do her normal tasks such as payroll, bookkeeping, bulletin, answering phones, etc. but sometimes she goes beyond the call of duty.

“With the help of a few parishioners, she was the one who spent the most hours on putting together all the parish information that was needed for the bankruptcy court case,” he said. “Over these past three and-a-half years I have come to really appreciate Anitra as a co-worker and a friend. I look forward to many more years of working together.”

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