Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Groundbreaking set for Bishop White Seminary May 8
by Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register
(From the May 1, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Bishop White Seminary complex will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 8, at the site of the present seminary, 429 E. Sharp Ave. in Spokane. A reception will follow; the public is invited.
The present seminary consists of four connected structures: the residence, dining room and kitchen, chapel, and offices/classroom.
The brick residence, the oldest portion of the complex, has been donated to Gonzaga University. That historic structure will be moved across Addison Street to a new location.
According to Father Darrin Connall, rector of Bishop White, work has already begun on the process. The building itself will move the first week of June.
The rest of the structures will be demolished. That process begins May 19.
Completion is expected by May 1, 2009. During construction, the program will rent three houses from Gonzaga University as temporary quarters.
When finished, the new seminary will be “very flexible” in terms of configuring its space, said Father Connall. Included in the plans are apartments for three priests, and rooms for 20-30 seminarians, depending on how those rooms are configured – whether seminarians share space, and how many.
The new building will be able to accommodate guests as well.
“It’s hard to believe this is really happening after all these years,” said Father Connall – “all this work, all this generosity. Even though we already have construction workers on the site,” preparing to move the residence building, “it really hasn’t sunk in yet.”
The seminary project is the result of years of planning, conversation, design, and fundraising, he said.
“We started the conversation about endowing the seminary program in 1999,” said Father Connall. The next year, a new building became part of that future planning.
“It’s going to be a huge, wonderful gift to the diocese, a building that’s going to be built to last,” he said.
The new seminary complex has more than pragmatism behind it. There is symbolic value as well.
The project is “symbolic of the vitality of our local Church,” Father Connall said. It is a sign of the vitality not only of priestly formation, “but also for other kinds of ministerial formation in our diocese, such as deacon formation,” which has been run out of Bishop White in recent years.
Bishop White has become a formation house, not just for the Spokane Diocese, but for the region as well, he said. Next year the seminarians will represent three archdioceses and three dioceses. “That’s a wonderful sign of collaboration, a manifestation of what it means to be part of the wider Church,” said Father Connall. “We aren’t isolated. We aren’t insulated.
“We don’t do this alone,” he said. “This is our gift to the local Church. This is our gift to the regional Church, too.”