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

Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Suncrest, plans new church

by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

(From the Oct. 2, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Our Lady of the Lake Parish celebrated Mass in a large tent this summer. The parish is raising funds for its own church. (IR photo courtesy of Steve Feider)

“In 1969 five Catholic families, the original seed of what would eventually become Our Lady of the Lake Parish, began celebrating Mass in an old school house in Scotts Valley (near Nine Mile Falls, Wash.). Services later moved to the Sunset Bay Café. The heartfelt desire of this dedicated group of faithful was to someday build a Catholic church in this area.”

Thus does the website of Our Lady of the Lake Parish ( begin its narrative on the history of the parish. Over the years, the Catholic community – which now numbers about 80 households and serves the Nine Mile Falls, Suncrest, and Tum Tum areas – met for liturgies in a church/community center shared with the local Protestant community. In 1992, after many years, volunteers completed work on an addition to this structure dedicated to Catholic worship. A folding partition made it possible to separate the sanctuary area from the community center.

Originally, Our Lady of the Lake was established as a mission of the parish in Deer Park, St. Mary’s Presentation. Later, the mission was reassigned to Spokane’s Assumption Parish. During this period, administration of the mission and nearly all church functions that did not require a priest were taken care of by members of the parish. A very active prayer group developed, and parishioners also helped in the day-to-day operation of the nearby House of the Lord Retreat Center, established by Larry and Ramona Salvatore, one of the parish’s founding families.

In 1978, a youth group formed and began a tradition each Lent of presenting a living Stations of the Cross, a tradition which survives to this day. The performance was presented to many Catholic and Protestant communities throughout the Inland Northwest.

Over the years, numerous priests volunteered to preside at Our Lady of the Lake’s Masses and celebrations of other sacraments. In 1997, Jesuit Father Tim Clancy, from Gonzaga University, offered to serve as the Catholic community’s sacramental minister, and eventually he became Our Lady of the Lake’s first official pastor, a position he continues to hold today. In addition, the parish has three deacons, John Crandell, David Dudinsky, and George Lukach. There is also an active Women’s Guild, a social outreach ministry, and a building committee.

In 2002, on Dec. 1, the First Sunday of Advent, Bishop William Skylstad officially designated Our Lady of the Lake as a full-fledged parish. The diocese purchased 14 acres of land on Highway 291, across from the local middle school, and encouraged the parish to begin making plans to build a new church. The first project on the newly acquired land was to construct a Marian grotto, which is located in a rock formation in a secluded spot on the property. This grotto is located above and behind the site where the new parish church will be built.

On a visit to Chartres Cathedral, in France, Father Clancy walked the labyrinth which was constructed in the floor of the famous medieval cathedral. Upon his return, he shared with the faith community of Our Lady of the Lake how moved he had been by this experience. Subsequently, the parish constructed a similar labyrinth near its Marian grotto. Volunteer laborers from the parish built an 11-circuit brick labyrinth, 45 feet in diameter, a project completed in the summer of 2003. This labyrinth is open to the public during all daylight hours.

The original capital fund drive to build Our Lady of the Lake Church, begun in 2003, had to be put on hold in 2005 during the Diocese of Spokane’s bankruptcy process. The parish community has been far from idle, however. In addition to the Marian grotto and the labyrinth, water service has been piped into the property where the church will be built, along with electrical service, a septic system, and a lawn area with a sprinkler system which has served as a place to hold the annual parish picnic. A 3,000-squre-foot concrete pad with heating tubes was donated by a contractor in honor of his parents, who are parishioners. Volunteers also built a construction shed on the property. A loaned tent was raised in which the parish has been celebrating liturgies during the summer months.

On Sept. 27, Our Lady of the Lake re-started its capital campaign fund drive. Father Clancy said, “We believe there are another 80 or so practicing Catholic families in the Suncrest area who go into town for Mass. When we have a permanent church of our own, we hope many of these will choose to join us. Thus the challenge is to raise sufficient funds to build a church twice our current size.”

“There’s really a lot of momentum,” said Deacon George Lukach, “and a great desire to build our own church. It’s a beautiful site, a lot of beautiful pine trees, and a beautiful rock formation that will be visible through a large window behind the altar. I would say the groundbreaking is about two years down the road. The architectural design fits the property beautifully. The people are really happy that we have this property.”

Father Clancy invites anyone in the area who would like to visit to join Our Lady of the Lake parish community any Sunday at 9 a.m. for Mass. Now that cooler temperatures have returned, the liturgy will once again be held in the community center on Highway 291 at mile marker 18.

For more information, call Father Clancy: 313-6701.

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