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 Aug. 19, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register
Volume 8 - No. 47
50 Years Ago: July 1, 1960

Father Van Ommeren to Take Posts of Father Charles Skok

A new Chancellor and seminary superior for the Diocese of Spokane to replace the Very Rev. Charles D. Skok, who has been released for higher studies, was announced today by the Chancery.

Father William M. Van Ommeren, recently returned from studies at the Catholic University of America toward a doctorate degree in canon law, will become Chancellor of the Diocese July 15, and will also take over Father Skok’s position as superior of Bishop White Seminary.

Father Skok, who has been Chancellor since June 26, 1957, and superior at the seminary since July 31, 1958, will spend the rest of the summer in study and preparation for his departure about the middle of September for Rome. There he will enroll for two years of study at the Angelicum University, to obtain a doctorate in sacred theology, with emphasis on moral theology. He will reside at the graduate department of North American College in Rome.

According to the present plan, he will be in Rome during the course of the Second Vatican Council, which is now under preparation at the direction of Pope John XXIII.

Though his special field of endeavor will be moral theology, Father Skok will study both that and dogmatic theology of the Dominican-staffed Angelicum.

Father Van Ommeren, after three years of study, is now working on the final publication details of his doctoral dissertation, which has already been accepted by the Catholic University faculty. Once the thesis is published, he will receive the J.C.D. degree. Since his return to Spokane a few weeks ago, he has been residing at St. Ann Parish. Eventually, his permanent residence will be at Bishop White Seminary.

Prior to his appointment as Chancellor, Father Skok was an assistant at St. Patrick Parish, Walla Walla, from Aug. 1, 1952. He was ordained April 30 of that year. A native of the jump-off district of Holy Ghost Parish, Valley, he was ordained from St. Edward Seminary, Kenmore, Wash., where he took the full course.

While in Walla Walla, he also taught at St. Patrick High School and was principal there from 1955-1957. During the 1957-1958 academic year, he was also diocesan supervisor of Marycliff High School here.

Father Van Ommeren, prior to his studies at the Catholic University, served as an assistant at St. Augustine and St. Ann parishes here and Holy Family Parish, Clarkston. He has also been diocesan supervisor of Marycliff High School and advocate in the diocesan matrimonial court.

A native of Tilburg, Holland, he came to the United States in 1948 to study for the priesthood at St. Edward Seminary. He was ordained from there for the diocese on April 30, 1952.

From the Inland Register
Volume 43 – No. 4
Aug. 22, 1985 – 25 Yers Ago

by Father Edward Kowrach
Diocesan Archivist

(Ed. Note: The Hudson Bay Company spelled the name of their outpost Colvile. The U.S. Army fort and settlement in the valley spelled the name of their location Colville.)

Out of St. Mary of the Rosary Parish in Chewelah, Wash., came a worthy contribution to local church history on the commemoration of their centennial, 1885-1985.

History is not made in a vacuum. Elizabeth Riley has researched and written the history Still Strong Beats the Heart. The author well illustrated how secular history and church history were intertwined in the area. She starts with the account of the coming of the first fur trappers of the Pacific Fur Company, the voyageurs of the Hudson Bay Company and the early White settlers. Then are traced the arrival of the first Black Robes to serve the spiritual needs of the Indians and the Whites of the Colville Valley.

The first priests came down the Columbia River from Montreal to Fort Colvile in 1838. In 841, Father Desmet the Jesuit missionary, first came to the Kettle Falls site. He started the St. Paul Mission there. From that point the succeeding Jesuit Fathers moved south into the whole area of what are now the Stevens and Pend d’Oreille Counties.

In 1855, Father Folchi, a circuit-riding Jesuit, purchased a building built as a mercantile store. He began to convert the structure into the first Catholic church in Chewelah. It stood on the edge of the historic wagon road that led from Fort Colvile to Fort Walla Walla. Father Folchi conducted the services at first in the Salish Indian language because most of the congregation were Chewelah Indians. He remained active in the parish until 1905. The Jesuit Fathers served the parish up to 1916, when it was incorporated into the new diocese of Spokane, and from thence the parish was served by diocesan priests.

St. Mary School was opened in 1926 and was a strong influence on the youth of that area until 1969, when it was closed.

The purpose of a parish history is to put down in writing the story of the Church while the early pioneers are still living with us. Waiting too long may be too late. Now is the time to start that family genealogy or parish history. The steps along the process are:

• Collect the material and photos.
• Write down the notes, dates and sources of your material.
• After that, sit down to write the manuscript and type it out.
• The last step is to have it printed.

The first step may take as much time as several years; but after that, things go more easily.

In the recent past a number of Catholic parishes of our diocese have produced worthwhile histories. Of these, Ms. Riley’s Still Strong Beats the Heart is highly recommended.

One negative criticism can be offered in that this book does not have an index. An index makes a book more valuable for researchers and historians.

(Elizabeth F. Riley’s Still Strong Beats the Heart (1985) is available for $10 from St. Mary of the Rosary Parish, Chewelah, Wash.)

(Father Caswell is Ecumenical Relations Officer for the Diocese of Spokane and Inland Register archivist.)


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