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 Jan. 13, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)
Volume 9 - No. 21
50 Years Ago: December 30, 1950
Your Bishop and You
by Bishop Bernard Topel
As 1960 approaches its end, I look back over the year, I look back at the blessings God has given us and give thanks for them. It is natural to ask which of these blessings is the greatest.
Certainly, in the true sense we can make no such judgment. After all, the greatest blessings are spiritual: They are internal and invisible. On this account we cannot judge them. Only God can.
In a true sense, too, the greatest spiritual things are those that are being done right along. They are the things being done in our parishes in the day by day administration of the sacraments, in instruction and counseling, and so on. They are not spectacular; yet they are fundamental and all important.
With these thoughts in mind, we look back at the blessings God has given us during the year. When we do, these things come to mind.
The Northwest Regional CCD Congress we had in Spokane last September was a momentous event. It spotlighted one of the most important works of the diocese, religious instruction, especially of our youth in public schools. We are grateful that this was a notable congress among those that have been held. We are grateful always for the CCD work that is done so well in our parishes.
The growth of the Legion of Mary in the diocese through this year is a source of much joy. Some of our parishes have established praesidia for the first time. Several now have two praesidia. We are confident this growth will continue. For truly apostolic work, I know of no organization that is MORE important than the Legion.
Religious vocations this past year have been good. Especially notable is the increase of vocations for the sisterhood. This is a very great blessing.
Most phenomenal has been the growth of the House of Charity. Last January 1st, things were in a bad way. Brother Martin returned from sick leave only the day before Christmas last year. Our St. Vincent de Paul Society lent its support, financial and otherwise. The result in the growth of this important institution has been extraordinarily great. Yesterday a lay member of the board said, “If you had told me a year ago what was to happen, I would not have believed it. It would have seemed impossible.” I agreed with him.
In this connection it is certainly worth mentioning the fantastic success of the Christmas Fund sponsored by the Spokesman Review. Of this fund, the House of Charity will receive one-third. The success of this effort is spectacular. It is good to see that a newspaper has the poor so much at heart. It is good to know that the people of the Inland Empire do also.
Certainly one of the most important things this year is our Perpetual Adoration program. It began last December, but its growth was primarily during this year. We are most consoled and delighted that we have Perpetual Adoration. We are especially pleased that the adoration program is a project of our lay people.
And yet, when all is said and done, the greatest thing that has happened in our diocese this past year in my opinion is our Guatemala mission. This is truly the glory of the diocese. Last February, we accepted the Nahuala district in the Solola Diocese in Guatemala. We have two priests working there and a third preparing in the language school. To me, this was The Big Event of 1960 in our diocese.
It will be my duty and joy to visit the Guatemala mission shortly after Jan. 1.
Volume 43 – No. 14
25 Years Ago: January 23, 1986
Letter from the Palouse: ‘Tardy-obituary’
by Rev. Sev Westbrook
Ordinarily it is bad form to bring down harsh judgment on the recently departed. We are taught by the Master that it is blessed to mourn. Mourning is wholesome, purifying and even integrating for our lives.
I cannot find it in my head or my heart to praise the recently departed 1985. I can still mourn, of course, simply because it has passed on. Or was it rather passed over by the Great Clock in the sky which ticks only and always in the present?
I am not addressing the births, the baptisms, the weddings, the anniversaries, the changes of employment and residence, the illnesses and the deaths which may have deeply affected our lives. In our personal microworld, we may have experienced the greatest sadness or the greatest gladness – and maybe even both. Every year is the best of times and the worst of times. For the believing Christian every year brings a new experience of the paschal mystery: living, dying but also rising with Christ.
The focus of my memories and reflections is the macroworld we all share. In my judgment neither our nation nor our church fared very well. Space will limit me to our nation in this letter and the one to follow.
The major distinction of the United States in 1985 was to achieve the largest trade deficit of any nation in history. That is an unlikely marvel for this country whose natural resources are greater than any other and whose industry was once the world standard of productivity. Our dependence on foreign capital and absentee ownership greatly accelerated in 1985. Something is wrong. No, very many things are wrong, seriously out of order.
Meanwhile, our government again increased its investment in the manufacture of nuclear and conventional weapons. The official rationale is that we built them not with the intention of ever using them but for the sake of deterrence, i.e., to scare our principal adversary. Our total military spending last year approached $300 billion!
Predictably, our principal adversary is doing the same thing and offering the same rationale. If it’s any consolation, they’re wrecking their economy, too. We have devised the most expensive game in the history of gambling, and everybody loses except the munitions makers who are more usually referred to by their Orwellian title “defense contractors.”
The pity is that the deterrence of 1985 won’t be good enough or scary enough for 1986. Deterrence suffers from the constant attrition of obsolescence. The weapons systems which we did not employ last year to kill each other and destroy our planet will no longer do. So it must always be more and better.
This is the logic of infinity. This means that we must spend and spend and spend. But in 1985 we were not taxed and taxed and taxed. We weren’t asked to pay for the full load of the government’s expenditures. The pain of sacrifice was conveniently willed to the future. Having just moved from a national debt of $1 trillion to $2 trillion in only four or five years, we may have become anesthetized to what we used to find painful.
1985 was a good year for building up our debt, one of the best ever. Although the president has clearly and consistently led the way in suppressing fiscal responsibility by annually proposing expenditures which vastly exceed income, I do concede that he could not have been so greatly successful without bipartisan support in Congress and the permission of the voters.
Some of us may yet be here when the anesthesia wears off. Then we will awaken to a reality which was present in 1985 and is present now, but most will respond in shocked surprise. That will be an unhappy time with much recrimination.
Cheer up! I haven’t mentioned the AIDS epidemic.
(Father Caswell is archivist for the Inland Register, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)