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

January 15, 2009

by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the Jan. 15, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)

Volume 17 – No. 22
50 Years Ago: January 9, 1959

Serrans, Mothers’ Club Sponsors

300 at First Family Vocation Day Mass, Breakfast, Reception

A crowd estimated at 300 persons attended the first annual Family Vocation Day Mass, breakfast, and reception of the Spokane Diocese on Sunday, Dec. 28. The event was sponsored jointly by the diocesan Seminary Mothers’ Club and the Spokane Serra Club. The group was made up of seminarians of the diocese home for Christmas vacation, their families, and members of the Serra Club.

Bishop Topel celebrated the Solemn Pontifical Mass in Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral at 11:50 a.m. Father George Haspedis, a teacher at Bishop White Seminary, preached the sermon and told how fitting it was that seminarians’ families should gather in the season of the Holy Family, which is a model for seminarians’ families to imitate.

Hotel Breakfast

At the breakfast that followed in the Ridpath Hotel, Father James Ribble, also a teacher at Bishop White Seminary and diocesan director of vocations, acted as master of ceremonies. He introduced Father Bernard Barry, Cathedral pastor, who said a word of welcome; Father Charles D. Skok, Chancellor of the diocese and Principal of Bishop White Seminary; Mrs. Clifford Payne, President of the Seminary Mothers’ Club; and Bishop Topel.

His Excellency pointed to the late Bishop Charles D. White and to Bishop White Seminary as important factors in the great increase of vocations in the diocese and insisted that parents must water and cultivate the seeds of a vocation in their boys; otherwise, the planting will be in vain.

A reception on the Ridpath roof followed the breakfast, at which families of the seminarians met with the Bishop.

At Mass in the morning, Father Barry was assistant priest; Fathers Ribble and John Donnelly, deacons of honor; the Rev. Donald Adams, deacon; the Rev. Eugene Glatt, sub-deacon; Father Skok, first master of ceremonies; Father Walter Able, second master of ceremonies; seminarians and Cathedral grade school boys, minor ministers.

Guests at the breakfast included the Very Rev. Stephan P. Buckley, dean of the Spokane Deanery, who represented the priests of the diocese; Louis Brislawn, governor general of Serra International, and Don Herak, president of the Spokane unit of Serra.


Volume 41 – No. 19
25 Years Ago: January 11, 1984

Letter from the Palouse: Human unifier

by Father J. Severyn Westbrook

Gentle reader,

I remember when Martin Luther King died. I remember the stunning shock and the sadness that followed. I remember whose company I sought out and where I went that night. That turned out to be a most interesting evening. It helped me to sort out my personal sense of loss and to realize why it was that I so wholeheartedly mourned the death of this man.

My companions were black and white. So were their viewpoints. The blacks were militant in a kind of way that Martin Luther King was not. They confused their advocacy of black power with their hostility to white people. This was surely understandable inasmuch as white people had long been able to enjoy their power without even the need to advocate it, and many had done this with accompanying hostility toward black people.

The whites in the group were the perfect foil. They represented a certain stereotype of cause-oriented activists who were in vogue from the mid-’60s through the early ’70s. Their attitude was nothing short of masochistic. They would accept blame, they would accept guilt. Indeed, they seemed to hunger for it.

So here I was in the presence of urbane and even learned people in order that we might strengthen ourselves in the face of a common loss, and the best we could was to play a kind of parlor game: blackie beats up on whitie. The winners and the losers derived nearly equal enjoyment. I suppose that was the attraction of the game.

I spoiled the party. I didn’t care for the game. By no stretch of my imagination could I relate these strange goings on with the life work of Martin Luther King who was pro-black, pro-white and simply pro-human.

King was a disciple of Jesus and also a Gandhi. He was a unifier, not a divider. He stood for the dignity of everyone. He knew in the wisdom of the tradition which he championed that human rights are indivisible and that they cannot be the privileged preserve of any racial, social, economic or religious group.

This coming Sunday will be his birthday. In a year or two his birthday will become a national holiday by act of Congress. Neither J. Edgar Hoover in the past nor Jesse Helms in the present succeeded in their demeaning caricatures of this healing minister who by his work of racial reconciliation was as much a benefactor of white people as he was of black people.

The national holiday which will come to be is a fitting honor to the memory of an authentic national hero. Yet I think there is even a better reason for making this a truly national observance: may it be a reminder that as long as there is any racial injustice in our society, the great and necessary work in which Martin Luther King gave his life is yet undone. In celebrating him, let us celebrate our hope to become a more just and more united people.

Rev. Sev

(Father Caswell is archivist and Ecumenical Relations Officer for the Diocese of Spokane, and a regular contributor to this publication.)

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