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

Civil attorney, now a deacon, studying church law en route to priesthood

by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the June 12, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Matthew Larsen, ordained to the diaconate on March 29 , was born July 25, 1974, and grew up near Deer Park, Wash.

He was the youngest of four children, two girls and two boys. His parents are Carl and Dorothy Larsen, now of Spokane’s Mary Queen Parish.

As a youngster, Deacon Larsen attended St. Mary’s Presentation Parish in Deer Park and Riverside Elementary School. Prior to his beginning high school, Deacon Larsen’s family moved to Spokane, where they belonged to St. Francis Xavier Parish. The future priest graduated from Gonzaga Prep in 1993.

He graduated from Gonzaga University in 1997 with a bachelor of science degree in biology and a bachelor of arts degree in English. In 2000, following studies at Gonzaga School of Law, he received a J.D. in Law. Subsequently, he passed the bar exam and today is a licensed member of the Washington State Bar. Following law school, Deacon Larsen worked briefly as a legal counsel for a mortgage brokerage firm in Spokane Valley. He then accepted a position as a Public Defender in Okanogan County.

“This work as a public defender,” he said, “helped to solidify my own vocation. I spent many long hours both in the county jail and in the courtroom. I saw so many people struggling with addiction and looking for meaning in their life. I wanted to show them that the real way to freedom is through Jesus Christ, but I knew that I was limited in my professional capacity. Ultimately, this experience helped me to realize that maybe God was calling me to the priesthood. After many months of personal prayer and discernment, I decided to contact Father (Darrin) Connall at Bishop White (Seminary) and started the process to enter the seminary. I can honestly say that since that time I have felt much peace in my decision, and although seminary work can be daunting at times, I have never regretted my decision.”

Deacon Larsen said he is grateful for the priests he knew during his earlier years. “I was blessed growing up,” he said, “having strong priestly role models, both in the parishes I attended and during my many years of Jesuit education.”

He said that the opportunity to study his faith “at a serious academic institution has helped me to grow in my own understanding of the Church and (of) our beliefs. I hope that this education will help me to lead others inter a deeper understanding of their own faith.”

At present, Deacon Larson is beginning his studies in Canon Law at The Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. “My legal training has been very useful to my study of theology,” he said. “I think it enables me to think and write in a critical manner, which is essential to the study of theology.”

He is looking toward his future as a priest. “In the seminary we get a glimpse of parish life through our weekend and summer assignments, and I believe this is the life that God is calling me to live,” he said. “I look forward to celebrating the sacraments with a parish community, and (I also look forward to) growing more deeply in our faith in Jesus Christ and our love for the Church.”

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