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

Deacon Alvin Toulou announces retirement

by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff

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

Deacon Alvin Toulou (IR file photo by Deacon Eric Meisfjord)

Deacon Alvin Toulou, 85, was ordained in 1990, and all his years of diaconal ministry have been at St. Michael Parish in Inchelium. Deacon Toulou plans to retire from active ministry in March.

“My wife, Jeannie, urged me to be a deacon,” Deacon Toulou said. “We were doing a lot of church work, funerals and things like this, so she urged to me to go ahead and be a deacon. She passed away two and-a-half years ago. I just love being with the priests, and the church, and the people. I love the people. I’ve enjoyed it.”

Deacon Toulou described his ministry at St. Michael as “just working with the church and whatnot, and funerals, and this kind of thing.” He lost his eyesight about four years ago, but Deacon Toulou said that he gets around “very carefully.” Volunteers from the parish have helped him with transportation, as well as care workers who come to his home regularly.

Parish Administrator at St. Michael is Joseph Sehnert. He described Deacon Alvin and Jeannie as great mentors. Deacon Alvin “He has been a wonderful servant to his people. In all that he has done, he has been a real inspiration.”

Jesuit Father Jake Morton, co-pastor of St. Michael Parish, said that Deacon Toulou “was really a deacon long before he was ordained a deacon. He was always a servant type of person, helping with whatever. He was an acolyte many years before he was a deacon. He was a school bus driver, and he was a barber – he had his own shop after he retired from school bus driving. He did that right up until his eyesight became too bad, maybe four or five years ago.

“Even without his sight, he’s always on the altar on Sunday,” said Father Morton. “He’s unable to read the Gospel but he distributes Communion and does the incense and so forth. People have wanted him to keep doing all he can, he’s so greatly appreciated. He also has attracted young people as a mentor, he’s kind of taken people under his wing. People have always sought him out. When his wife was still alive they really did things together.”

In a letter accepting Deacon Alvin’s retirement, Bishop Skylstad wrote, “On behalf of the entire Diocese of Spokane and especially myself, I extend to you profound gratitude and congratulations on your wonderful service to the Church, especially in the Native American community. Personally, I want to tell you what a blessing you have been to me and what an inspiration!”

St. Michael Parish has scheduled a Mass and retirement dinner for Deacon Toulou, which will take place on March 14. The Mass will be at 3 p.m., followed by the dinner. All are invited to attend.

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