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
At St. Patrick, Pasco, office staff has no trouble staying more than busy
by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff
(From the May 1, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)
Linda Ordaz (left) and Marlene Hottell bring a wide variety of skills to their work in the office of St. Patrick Parish in Pasco. (IR photo courtesy of St. Patrick Parish)
Office responsibilities at Pasco’s St. Patrick Parish – the largest parish in the Diocese of Spokane – are ably managed by Marleen Hottell, a veteran of 18 years, and Linda Ordaz, a relative newcomer who began in 2004.
Hottell’s official title is Executive Assistant/Bookkeeper, and Ordaz is Parish and Religious Education Secretary. Ordaz also was brought on board for her bi-lingual skills in Spanish and English. Both women hold fulltime positions, not surprising in a parish of well over 3,000 households.
Born and raised in Seattle, Hottell moved to Pasco in 1976 with her husband of 40 years, Garin “Gary” Hottell. Together they have two now-adult offspring. Retired after working for many years for U.S. West (now Qwest), Marleen said that Gary often “gets involved in parish activities because of me,” including helping out with parish school fundraisers. “He has also served on the Parish Council and at one time he was very involved in our Guatemala Sister Parish. He even went on one of the trips to Guatemala with some other parishioners.... We have both been very involved in the parish and school for some 32 years.”
She began volunteering in the parish office nearly two decades ago, and when the position she now holds came open due to a retirement, she applied and got the job. A high school and secretarial school graduate, Hottell had previously worked, she said, “as an Underwriter/Supervisor/Backup Bookkeeper for Hartford Steam-boiler Insurance Company.” For eight years, she also worked for Pasco’s public school district as a Reading Aide.
Originally from Texas, Ordaz moved to Pasco in 1990 “as a migrant,” she said, with her parents and three older brothers. She graduated from Pasco High School in 1998 and is currently enrolled at Columbia Basin College. “The experience I brought to this position,” she said, “was clerical experience of five years, plus I’m bi-lingual, in English and Spanish, and I had computer skills.”
Hottell summarizes her job description thus: “I assist the pastor in his administration of the parish, I do the bookkeeping and (keep track of) parishioners’ donations to the parish. I help maintain the database for the parish, which is currently 3,700 (households). Also, I am the Safe Environment Coordinator for the parish. I assist/oversee the production of the bulletin every week, which can sometimes be up to eight pages or more.”
For her part, Ordaz has no trouble staying busy, either. She explained that her responsibilities include clerical work, attending to parishioners’ needs and requests, registering parishioners for English and Spanish baptism preparation classes, and maintaining parish baptismal records. She registers new students in Spanish religious education classes and sends out billing statements for both the English and Spanish religious education classes. She also schedules the use of various parish facilities, and for a parish as busy as St. Patrick, it’s no small matter to avoid booking two groups into the same room at the same time. “I also take care of many miscellaneous duties,” she said with a smile, intoning her version of every parish secretary’s theme song, “which are too numerous to name.”
Hottell explained that she most enjoys “working with the bookkeeping and assisting parishioners with their needs. What I like least is trying to keep up with all the changes to our database.”
“The thing I like most about my position,” said Ordaz, “is the relationships I have with my peers; it feels like we are family, and it does not compare to the other relationships that I have had in my other jobs. I feel the support that they give me, and I to them. I try to help out as much as possible in every department. The part I like least is people yelling at me. Especially with baptisms, it seems that some people don’t get what the requirements are, and I hate having to repeat myself time and time again to the same person. Other than that, I like keeping busy with little miscellaneous jobs and cleaning. I love everything about this job, especially that I’m right next door to God’s house. I never really thought I could feel so much warmth and love from my peers as I do here.” Working for the parish, she said, “has opened me to a whole different way. My family and friends have seen the difference in me.”
Parish office personnel don’t get many opportunities to interact with one another and compare notes on their work. “I sometimes get calls from other parishes,” said Ordaz, “and I see that we have the same problems no matter what (parish or) diocese we are from. I have to say that we (secretaries) take a lot of abuse from people, and sometimes we are taken for granted. Some people don’t appreciate what we do, and that sometimes bothers me. Other than that, we were placed here in our positions for some special reason.”
Father Daniel Barnett, pastor, does appreciate the contributions of both women.
The size of St. Patrick Parish, he said, where some 5,000 people attend Mass each weekend, “coupled with the fact that at least half of our parishioners do not speak English, demands creativity, flexibility, and a good sense of humor. Serving such a large and diverse parish presents many administrative challenges not faced in other parishes, and Marleen and Linda are daily engaged in meeting those challenges.
“As Administrative Assistant and Bookkeeper,” he said, “Marleen is adept at accomplishing a myriad of tasks effectively and efficiently. This helps me and many others serve the parish more effectively and helps the parish function more smoothly. Linda manages the various aspects of communication and the daily administration of the front office. Fluent in both English and Spanish, she helps maintain the parish calendar of events, as well as the registrations for sacramental preparation, religious education, and other parish programs. We are grateful for the faithful service of both!”