Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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 April 30, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)
Volume 17 – No. 38
50 Years Ago: May 1, 1959
’59’s ‘Priest Material’ Crop Largest in History
On Friday, April 10, 89 eighth graders showed up at St. Aloysius’s Gymnasium to struggle through the three-hour seminarians’ test conducted by Father James Ribble, vocational director for the Diocese of Spokane.
On May 4 in Walla Walla, another hand-picked group of eighth grade boys will be tested as seminary material, with a third test to be arranged for boys who, for illness or other reasons, could not make the first two trial runs.
In all, some 140 boys will have been tested before the end of the school year – the largest testing yet to take place in the diocese. Last year’s test takes – a record at the time – numbered 106.
Included in the list of eighth graders taking the first examination were two boys from the public school CCD ranks.
“Naturally, not all of these boys have a burning desire to be priests. One third probably take the tests out of sheer curiosity.” Father Ribble said, “A few take them on the off-chance they might become serious. But a good 50 percent feel they have a vocation.”
The winnowing process of selecting 30 boys from this small horde of examinees will be based on character, personality, IQ and seriousness of intent.
“The scholarship demands leading to ordination,” Father Ribble said, “are tough. A boy not only must have a good mind, but the strength of character needed for intellectual and moral discipline.”
Although a few boys may be disappointed in being denied admittance to Bishop White Preparatory Seminary in September, passing youthful disappointment, Father feels, is more than compensated by the exceptionally high-caliber priest-material resulting from the selective exams.
Boys will be contacted by letter, Father Ribble stated, as to the results of their tests and parents of selected seminarians will be visited by him during the summer.
“Parental cooperation,” he emphasized, “is most important in getting a seminarian off to a good start.”
25 Years Ago: April 11, 1984
Letter from the Palouse: Returning to Life
by Father J. Severyn Westbrook
Long before my young mind was ever disturbed by taking seminary courses in the worst of 19th century theology, I somehow knew that Jesus brought his friend Lazarus back to life not to prove anything to anyone but simply because he loved him and would miss his friendship, his presence, just being together. It’s simple: they were friends.
If I could, I would have brought my friends back to life too. Ted Winford and Rosemary Bilski were probably the closest friends of my high school and college years. They died in separate airplane crashes in their early 20s. I would have brought them back to be with me and the others who have loved them. I think I understood Jesus’ ways.
Now that I’m older, I have changed my mind a little. I agree with Mark Twain who wondered why people cried at funerals and finally concluded that it was because they weren’t the party involved! There are so many ways to die besides the overwhelming finality of physical death. Hate, self pity, fear, revenge, being ignored or put down, not being loved, stopping our mental clock at a time in our past when we still had the courage to think – all are deaths and all call out for the power of resurrection.
The other thing in the Gospel story that most of us have probably wondered about for years is that Lazarus would have to die again. That seems like a lot to ask of someone even if you are friends! Not once but twice he would have to let go of his loved ones, the places dear to him, the simple pleasures of his life – meals, toasted cups of wine, the sun on his back, the dust between his toes, the celebration of Passover and Eucharist. He would have to die twice. That bothered me. Then I remembered: he was also born twice.
It is Lent – springtime – a time for all things and all people to come back to life. It is time for reconciliation and metanoia, for living fresh new ways, for coming back but also going fresh new ways, for coming back but also going forward.
This is what we celebrate during these six weeks each time we come together to hear the Scriptures proclaimed, to say, “We believe,” and to feed one another on the bread of life and the cup of salvation. With the healing power of the Lord’s love we forgive our old lives and build up our new ones.
Finally we – each of us: you and I – will die. But we shall die with the promise of resurrection. This is what we believe as we move toward Easter and this is what we proclaim in our liturgy each Sunday by the very act of our coming together as an Easter people.
“Whoever believes in me, even though he die, he will live.” We will live forever because of a friend – Jesus – who loved us all enough to go to death believing in his father’s care and came back to live with us all again.
(Father Caswell is Ecumenical Relations Officer and archivist for the Diocese of Spokane, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)