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

Spokane’s St. Anthony Parish marks centennial

by Joanne Bovey, for the Inland Register

(From the Oct. 1, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)

Members of St. Anthony Parish community pose for a picture in front of the church after the Centennial Mass. (IR photo by Mike Nguyen)

It was a glorious day on Sunday, Sept. 13. The Son shone and the sun shone on 300 past and present parishioners. St. Anthony Parish, on Cedar and Montgomery in Spokane, was celebrating its centennial. The outdoor Mass, on the school playground across from the rectory, was concelebrated by Bishop William S. Skylstad; Father Joachim Hiên, pastor; Father Peter Hoang Nguyen from Fairchild Air Force Base; and Father Stan Malnar MD. Adult choir members led the congregation in song.

The Vietnamese Community sang and presented the gifts at the Offertory in beautiful colored costumes. Mass is celebrated in Vietnamese at St. Anthony on the second and fourth Sunday of each month at 12:30 p.m.

Children from Trinity Catholic School sang the Communion hymn, “The Neighbor Song,” and had a Book Fair after the Mass at the school gym to raise money for their library.

Bishop Skylstad receives the offertory gifts from beautifully dressed Vietnamese children. (IR photo by Mike Nguyen)

Father Hiên thanked the members of the parish who took the leadership position on this celebration during his recent absence for a trip to Vietnam. Allen Peterson was the chairman of the celebration, and also organized the Saints Classic Car Show the day before. The Knights of Columbus handled the food preparations for the picnic following the Mass. Photos of parish history were displayed in the parish’s Wilson Hall. Baked goods, German sausage, and centennial mugs were sold. The celebration also included a mini-carnival.

Bishop Edward J. O’Dea of the Diocese of Seattle dedicated the parish to the Holy Ghost in October 1909. One hundred people north of Knox and west of Howard formed the new parish with Father John A. Faust as the first pastor. The new parish featured the state’s first Holy Name Society, begun with 27 male members.

When the new church was dedicated Nov. 21, l910, it was placed under the protection of St. Anthony of Padua. Following an interior fire in 1919, the Church was reconstructed and rededicated to the Holy Ghost and St. Anthony. In l972, the parish was renamed St. Anthony.

St. Anthony School opened Sept. 4, l928, with 58 students, and staffed by Franciscan Sisters. The school chapel was blessed and dedicated to St. Theresa, the Little Flower of Jesus. The first principal was Franciscan Sister Rita Bernard. In September l969, St. Joseph Parish combined with St. Anthony, and the school was renamed Trinity School. Principal Sandi Nokes leads a lay staff teaching about 200 students in grades K-8, as well as a pre-kindergarten and Educare program.

Louis Leonetti remembers the early days at St. Anthony School. His mother had passed away, but Sister Theodora Rita was like a mother to him. She fed the family dinner and during the Depression offered them free tuition to stay in the school. Louis never forgot her kindness. Louis also remembers serving Mass for Father John Faust, pastor from Oct. 1, 1909 until January 1934.

In the early days, there was no Knights of Columbus Council in the parish. Instead, the Men’s Club was a very active parish service organization. Ron Roper remembers how they painted the outside of the church. There was a fair amount of scaffolding required. When the sidewalks got too broken, they took out the broken concrete and hired a professional to replace it. One year they reroofed the church, and Fred Kissinger drove a truck to the dump to dispose of the old roofing material. Ron remembers, “In honor of St. Patrick, we had a corned beef and cabbage feast after the Masses, which was always well attended. Our chef was Bob Dolle.”

Centennial Mass celebrants pause in front of St. Anthony Church: Father Peter Hoang Nguyen, Bishop William Skylstad, Father Stan Malnar MD, and Father Joachim Hiên. (IR photo by Joanne Bovey)

The parish’s Knights of Columbus Council was established about three years ago. Present Grand Knight is Allen Petersen; past Grand Knights include Bob Stauffer and Jim Schwarzer. The KCs sponsor fundraisers to help seminarians, improve the grounds, and in general to help out the church in any way possible. They helped the Youth Group to go to the Steubenville Conference at Gonzaga University this summer.

Father Gerald Feisst was pastor from January, l934 until June, l960. In l956 he dedicated the new parish rectory and office. Pastors after him were: Fathers Cyril Feisst (l960-l969), John Rompa (l969-l970), Norman Triesch (l970-l976), and Robert Pearson (l976-l977).

Father Paul Wenning was the pastor from July l977-July l987. During his time the parish celebrated its 75th anniversary with a renovation and restoration of the church’s interior.

Other pastors include Father Thomas Wilson (July l987-September l990), Msgr. John Donnelly (December l990- 2001), Father Eugene Tracy (2001- June, 2003), and now Father Hiên, since July 1, 2003.

The present Youth Group is run by young adults Jonathan King, Jessica Heidt and Desiree Shier, and facilitated by Joanne Bovey. With the help of many parents, Frank and Ann Marie DeCaro taught, fed, and had fun with a large group of kids for 13 years. They were known for their Haunted Houses, Christmas decorating of the Church, and summer camping trips. Many and varied events happened under the watchful eye of Msgr. John Donnelly.

Luke Anderson is the most versatile member of the choir. He plays the organ and guitar, and sings. A memorable past choir member was Ruth Kissinger. She not only taught music and English to the 7th and 8th graders at St. Anthony School, but played the organ for many years. In the early days she was known as Miss Ortiz and taught kindergarten.

Phyllis Stephens remembers the 7th and 8th grade choirs of the l950s under the direction of Sister Karen. “The choir sang for all the high Masses and requiem Masses. We had quite a music department. The Sisters really loved music. We had an orchestra and I played the cello.”

The Altar Society, headed by Jan Stripes, was begun by Father Faust in l909 and is still going strong. It was originally called the Sodality, but its goals are the same: help the priest with the liturgy by purchasing altar breads and wine, clean the altar linens, purchase albs – whatever is needed. They have also outfitted Wilson Hall with chairs and kitchen supplies. Their caring extends to funeral luncheons, for which Wilson Hall is set up, decorated, and food prepared for grieving friends and relatives of the deceased. Jo-Anne Martel oversees this ministry.

Allen Peterson heads up the adult education RCIA for those interested in more information about the Catholic Church. Mary Smith teaches the children on Sunday mornings in the school with help from Dan Shier and other volunteers. Preparation for the sacraments takes place Monday evenings in the school.

Six workers rotate taking assistance calls for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The Society, started in l929, has helped the needy regardless of religious preference. Mike and Sue Cain have been active in the Society since Mike Fitzsimmons reinvigorated it in 2001. According to Sue, “We help people; not judge them. Generally most of our resources are used to help people with utility bills in the parish boundaries.”

Homebound parishioners can rely on Charlotte Hare and other fellow worshipers to visit them and bring communion with a smile. There is a parish prayer chain; people may request prayer for various intentions.

Linda Peterson, the parish secretary, said that “the parish was begun in l909 by dividing it from St. Joseph Parish, but the church wasn’t built until 1910, so we will have to celebrate one whole year!” The final centennial event will be a multi-cultural banquet the evening of Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010, at Fort Wright Mukogawa Commons.

The bell in the parish’s belfry still rings to signal the beginning of Mass, a reminder of past generations who gave so much to ensure a vibrant parish community that would continue into the future. And so it has. They would be proud.

(Joanne Bovey is a St. Anthony Parishioner)

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