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 April 29, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register
Volume 18, No. 36
50 Years Ago: April 15, 1960

Diocesan Digest

Colfax: Harold Carr, news editor of the Colfax Gazette Commoner, received four awards in news and feature writing in the seventh annual Inland Empire Press-Radio-TV awards contest sponsored by the Spokane alumnae chapter of Theta Sigma Phi, national journalistic honorary March 8 at the Spokane Press Club.

Carr, a member of St. Patrick Parish, received first place in the weekly news story division, and second place in the general feature division, as well as two honorable mentions in the weekly feature writing division.

Some 70 loads of crushed rock have been hauled to extend the parking lot on the northwest side of the new church, with the work done to improve the parking lot by Father Hanly, Phillip Becker, Ralph Bremmer, George Earnest, Vincent Hensle, Jim Hinnenkamp, Joe Hinnenkamp, Charles Hofer, Harold Huber, Albert Nienhenke, Dr. Gordon Ripple and Charles Weber.

Among the new furnishings for the church are Appalachian oak pews with wooden kneelers, upholstered in olive material, made by the Trappist Fathers of Lafayette, Ore.; the tabernacle candle sticks, sanctuary lamp being made by Gunning church furnishing company, Dublin; hand carved wooden statues of the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and the Crucifix, and the Stations of the Cross, made in Italy; and four stained glass windows ordered from Wisconsin.

Plates depicting the old St. Patrick Church are being sold by members of the Catholic Daughters of America to raise money for the purchase of another stained glass window for the church.

Mrs. Harold Huber, president of St. Ignatius Hospital auxiliary, reports more than $360 was raised at the rummage and white elephant sale to benefit hospital projects.

Students of St. John Academy participated in the National Poetry contest sponsored by the Catholic Daughters of America with the following prizes awarded: Seventh, eighth grades, first place, Dorothy Haggert; second, Bobby Humphrey; third, Linda Schmitz; fourth, fifth and sixth grades, first place, Stephanie Bryant; second, Barbara Hofford, third, Susan Murphy.

New members of the Catholic Daughters of America were received into the group March 27. They are: Laurette Doyle, Mrs. Lottie Harter, Mrs. Sadie Harter, Mrs. Carol McDonald, Mrs. Lucinda Priscok, and Mrs. Helen Thompson.

Mrs. Lucille Kennedy, acting state regent from Tacoma, and Mrs. Bertha Sauve, district deputy from Uniontown, conducted the reception ceremonies. (Margaret Huck, Correspondent)

From the Inland Register
Volume 42 – No. 21
25 Years Ago: May 9, 1985

After 27 Years, ‘Lindy’ Leaves the Seminary

One thing often leads to another.

Winter leads to spring.

Caterpillars lead to butterflies.

Thirty-day tryouts as part-time kitchen staff lead to 27 years of cooking for the seminaries of the Diocese of Spokane.

Mary Lindemann (“Call me Lindy. Call me Mrs. Lindemann if you’re not in my good graces. I’m not a Mary or a Mare”) will retire at the end of this school year from her long-running term as the head cook at Bishop White Seminary.

She cooked for both Bishop White Seminary and Mater Cleri Seminary – now Bishop Topel Center – during those 27 years. Heaven only knows how many students those years saw, but they included 10 rectors (“I don’t have rectors, I have bosses”) of various temperaments, attitudes, approaches to seminary formation, and lengths of tenure (“I’ve seen ’em come and I’ve seen ’em go”).

The Mater Cleri rector who first hired her was Father James Ribble, now rector of Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral.

Besides the work in the kitchen, Lindy provided what he called her “practical way of looking at things,” a “window on reality” for the seminarians, as well as “beneficial advice on responsibility.”

One former Bishop White resident seminarian strengthened that: “I think there were times when she was the only one teaching anything about responsibility around there.”

Father Ribble said, “Her only instance of indecisiveness was her ‘temporary commitment’ to the seminary” 27 years ago.

“My years as a rector were enriched by her presence,” he said.

Father Eugene Mulligan, a former spiritual director at Bishop White Seminary, said of Lindy, “She is really remarkable. Without her, we’d all be dead.”

There was more to it than simply preparing and serving meals, however.

“Without her, half the priests in the diocese wouldn’t be in the diocese,” Father Mulligan said. “Boys would come over here to talk” – she now lives next door to Bishop White. “And I’m a trained psychologist. She was providing unfair competition: she could do more for them in a half-hour than I could in…”

Twenty-seven years in any job is admirable. There are some who might suggest that working so closely with priests and future priests for that period of time required special talents, perhaps.

“I’ve never regretted being here,” she said. “Even though I’d get mad as anything at those boys sometimes – and the priests, too. I’d tell them, ‘I know things about you that if you knew I knew, you wouldn’t be able to look me in the face. And I love you anyway.’

“Even though I resigned a couple of times, I wouldn’t trade the job for any other in the world.”

The reason for the staying power sounds deceptively simple.

“After my husband died, this was my vocation. I was needed here, is why, I think.

“This is it. This is my priority. I had something to contribute. God was telling me to stay here.

“Even though my husband’s been dead 12 years, I’ve never had any desire to remarry. At first, I thought I’d become a nun. But this is where God wanted me to be.

“Maybe that sounds crazy.”

Lindy is many things, but crazy is not among them.

If she had a secret to working with the seminarians and staff all those years, it was probably communication.

Communication, fingers, and authority

“We’d clear the air. I’d yell, and they’d yell, and we’d get it all out in the open. Talk is good for the soul,” she said, emphasizing the point by shaking her right index finger.

“See that finger?” Father Mulligan said. “That’s the most authoritative finger in the diocese.”

“I always handled my problems with the boys myself. And it always came out well in the long run, too,” she said. “I’d get to know the boys, to talk to them, ask them questions. They have to know when you’re serious and when you’re kidding.”

“I’d get to know some of the boys better than the rectors did. You’d be surprised what we’d talk about.”

Mutual respect probably had something to do with her longevity as well.

“I’d tell the priests, ‘I respect you for what you are. You respect me for what I am.’”

By and large, it seemed to have worked.

When one new rector took charge, “he said to me, ‘don’t leave me. I need you. I need your support.’ And I told him the same thing. You had to stick together or you were both lost.”

Someone who has been involved with the seminary as long as she is more than a familiar face to many of the priests of the diocese, as well as seminarians and former seminarians.

When did she first realize she was just as much an institution as the seminary itself?

“One of the rectors was acting like a brick wall to me. And to the boys. I thought he was showing partiality, too, and it was hurting the boys.

“So one day at breakfast time, he came through the kitchen and didn’t say a word to me.

“So I stopped him, and I said to him” – finger in motion… “‘I’m not a piece of furniture and neither are these boys. Either be a human being or I quit. Or you can fire me.’

“These priests, sometimes they’re just like overgrown boys. And I told him so.

“Well, I stood there. And I thought for sure he was going to fire me.

“But he thought for a minute, and he said to me, ‘you know, you’re right.’

“You see? We cleared the air.”

Retirement plans include “Finding out what it’s like not to get up at a quarter to five to be at work at 5:15 a.m.

“I can go to daily Mass at 6:30 in the morning now. That’s the best time of the day. Until now, I’ve been too busy cooking breakfast – and then they don’t get up and eat it. What I don’t do for that seminary....” And then she laughed again.

She also plans to spend some time fixing up her house and yard, and eventually doing volunteer work with young children and the helpless elderly.

Sixth Bishop’s Medal Awarded

She will also have to take a few moments to decide where to hang her Bishop’s Medal, bestowed on her for her service to the diocese at a Mass at Bishop White on Friday, April 26. There have been only five previous recipients of the award.

“I had something to do with the ordination of so many priests of the diocese. And I’ve attended all of the ordinations, too. I never missed one. I almost got trapped in a snowstorm coming back from one.

“But I wouldn’t trade my years for anything. I got so much out of it – so many friends. I can hardly count them all. So many of them still come and visit – there are so many good guys.

“And I’m not going to sit in a rocking chair and rot.”

In an editorial published in the Dec. 16 IR issue, Father Michael Savelesky, editor of the Inland Register and a former rector of Bishop White Seminary, wrote, “In very subtle ways cooking sets the tone for seminary living. When the food is poor the troops grumble. When the cook is perturbed, everyone runs for cover....

“Some say there is ... a path worn in the blacktop between her nearby house and the kitchen door – where many have tred to find fresh cinnamon rolls or a touch of compassionate advice.

“She is capable of roller-pin diplomacy, as some daring souls have discovered. But her bark is truly much louder than her bite. Her Germanic command barely hides a watchful eye and a caring heart.”

“I’m getting a little bit old,” Lindy said. “And you have to know when to say ‘Enough is enough.’”

(Father Caswell is the diocese’s Ecumenical Relations Officer and archivist for the Inland Register, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)

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