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

Compiled by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the Feb. 26, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register
Volume 17 – No. 27
50 Years Ago: February 13, 1959

Bids to Be Submitted Soon For Fatima Parish Building

Contemporary Styling – distinguished future parish units at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Spokane. The scalloped canopy of precast concrete will connect the temporary church at right – on which construction will start shortly – the future church at left. Final plans call for the new temporary church to be used as a gymnasium and center for parish school and social activity in later years. The main structure will be constructed of reinforced brick walls with pre-stressed, precast concrete floor and roof over a poured concrete foundation floor. According to architects Funk, Murry & Johnson, every effort will be made to avoid the feeling of temporary occupancy.

Bids will be submitted within the next few days for construction of the new “church-now, gym-later” unit of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Spokane – first parish in the diocese established by Bishop Topel. Actual construction will start immediately after the low bid is accepted.

The parish plant, which it is anticipated, will cost approximately $165,000, will function as a church for the 450 families in the parish until such time as a convent, rectory, and permanent church are erected on the sizable parish property, bounded by S. Perry, E. 33rd, and E. 34th Street.

The plans reproduced in this issue of the Inland Register were drawn by the Spokane architectural firm of Funk, Murray & Johnson.

“Seating capacity,” said Msgr. John J. Coleman, pastor, “will be 450 persons, with a louvered choir room beside the sanctuary. Aisles will be wide. In the daylight basement there will be an auditorium, with stage, for school functions and parish centered social activities. An office, showers, restrooms, and kitchen facilities will complete the lower level.

A covered walkway of precast concrete is the link that will tie the new temporary church residences in the area that have been remodeled to serve as “interim” structures.

Our Lady of Fatima parish school, which opened in September, 1957 – 16 months after the parish – now has five grades occupying four classrooms. Five Franciscan Sisters are the teaching faculty. The remainder of the school building, now being used as a church, will be divided into four additional classrooms as soon as the new unit is completed. Basic plans call for an ultimate total of 12 classrooms.

Plans for parish units are based on anticipated growth within the parish.

“There is a solid Catholicity at Our Lady of Fatima,” Mgr. Coleman said. “Most of our parishioners are young couples with young children, who are interested in doing all they can for their youngsters. We have a number of Army people in the parish, many salesmen, and a number of business and professional men. Although transfers are frequent at this stage in their careers, the number of Catholic families moving into the parish more than compensates.”

The parish building committee members ,who expressed approval of working plans for construction, are John H. Wieber, chairman; Lloyd Morris, Peter M. Pirotte, Harry Lewis, Carl H. Johnson, John Collins, Dr. John Lambert, Sherman J. MacDowell, Neil Meyers and Joseph B. Wald.


Volume 41 – No. 24
25 Years Ago: February 15, 1984

Letter from the Palouse: Mature Believing

by Father J. Severyn Westbrook

Gentle reader,

A wise friend shared with me her best definition of maturity. “Maturity,” she said, “is tolerance for ambiguity.” Her insight is worth pondering.

Literalists, religious fundamentalists and ideologues of all kinds and descriptions embrace their limited worlds of black and white with fierce tenacity. It is a mark of immaturity to reduce the complexity of reality to a narrow simplicity.

Simplists don’t like to think very much. If there is a passion that governs their lives, it is the passion for security. Security can be cheaply bought when all is simple, when all is clear, when larger considerations can be ignored in order that I can concentrate specifically and exclusively upon that which pleases me and that which gives me security.

Sometimes the simplist provides us a favor by pushing a particular cause to the extreme. This happened recently when the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart assured the world that Mother Teresa of Calcutta would go to hell inasmuch as she had not been born again. He said that no good work that Mother Teresa had ever done in her entire life would in any way contribute to the possibility of her Salvation. She was doomed; she would go to hell.

That may make Brother Jimmy feel good to know that once again he was right as, indeed, he has always been according to the righteousness of his own judgment. But, methinks, he chose the wrong target. If Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day and Mohandas Gandhi (who was not even baptized) are not going to make it through those pearly gates, then the rest of us might as well quit trying. What would be the point?

Somehow I never thought of heaven as an eternity in dialogue with Brother Jimmy and his think-a-likes. Pardon what may be an uncharitable thought; but if that’s heaven, there might be something to be said for the alternative. Mark Twain used to say that one place was good for climate, but the other was better for society.

How dare Brother Jimmy? How dare he limit the love of God for all of us who are created in his image and likeness? How dare he limit the salvation accomplished by Jesus whom we honor as Lord?

Can anyone really think that we can limit God by the partiality of our understanding of that which we believe to be orthodox? What an awful and capricious God is preached by Brother Jimmy Swaggart and his think-a-likes!

The God who made the universe, the God who most fully expresses love for us in the gift of his Son who gave his life for us, will not be limited by the mental horizon of Brother Jimmy Swaggart. He blasphemes. He does exercise great power through telecommunications but is yet not able to limit the compassion and the goodness of our Father God.

Our infinite God will not be limited by ideologues. Neither should we be. We should be open to variety. We should be open to the new as well as the old in the wisdom of faith. We should listen sensitively to everyone because, at least, sometimes we may learn something we had not earlier known. We should be open to surprise. We should be open to the surprise of being human and, therefore, complex.

My friend was right. If we are to be mature, we must be tolerant of ambiguity.


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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