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 October 20, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register
Volume 20, No. 10
50 Years Ago: October 13, 1961

For Walla Walla mother, teacher, winning degree takes 22 years, is ‘worth it’

Most college students earn their BA degrees in four years.

It took Mrs. Francis Pautler of 401 Willow, Walla Walla, 22 years, but “it was worth it.” On the afternoon of Sept. 17 at Holy Names College, sister Mary Raphael, president, presented Matilda Pautler her degree of Bachelor of Arts in Education.

There was “no fanfare, no music, no fuss, no flowers or ado,” Mrs. Pautler said. Only her husband, three of her sons, and her mother, Mrs. Catherine Paietta, were present.

“My heart was so filled with thankfulness and gratitude,” she said, “that I didn’t miss the glory of an average graduation.”

Ever since she can remember, Mrs. Pautler has wanted to be a teacher. As a youngster she played school by the hour. When she was graduated from St. Vincent Academy in 1935 she was graduated right into the Great Depression. She won a scholarship to the college of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn., “but there just wasn’t enough money to send me.”

Thanks to summers spent working at topping onions, picking fruit, stints in warehouses and canneries, the young honor student did have enough money to attend Walla Walla College.

In her sophomore year, she worked for her room and board in the home of the late Eugene Molitor, then choir director in St. Aloysius Parish. She attended Holy Names Normal.

In her third year, she stayed in the Frank Eaton home and helped care for their four children. She was graduated from Holy Names’ three-year normal course in 1938 and obtained her first teaching post – a one-room school at Paterson, Wash.

There were no modern conveniences and the nearest town was 27 miles away, she said. “Snakes and lizards really kept me in a dither.”

Two years later she taught the third grade and primary music at College Place in Walla Walla.

Then came marriage and one daughter and four sons. Teaching was no longer possible, but parish activity was. She directed plays for her parish and school, produced talent shows for St. Patrick’s Home and School Association, served as HSA president, and held other offices in the association, plus offices in the Altar Society. She acted as public relations chairman for both the district and diocesan Council of Catholic Women. She was active in the Legion of Mary, intermittently served as substitute teacher in Walla Walla’s parochial and public schools, and for the past 13 years has served as parish correspondent for the Inland Register.

For several years Mrs. Pautler tutored children in her home. “Many times I tutored a child with a baby in one arm and a book in the other.”

The past year, after obtaining an emergency teacher’s certificate, she taught kindergarten at Washington School, taking her youngest, five-year-old Jimmy, with her.

But all through the activity-filled years, Mrs. Pautler “dreamed constantly of earning my degree.” Actually, she did more than dream. She kept right on earning credits via extension and correspondence courses. Needed were 16 credits for graduation and Sister Mary Martinian, registrar at Holy Names College, permitted her to earn them at Walla Walla College – plus two extension courses from Eastern Washington College of Education.

“The whole family, and my neighbors,” she said, “suffered with me as I labored through the psychology and science courses.” She admitted to A and B grades, but said, “the Holy Ghost must have been working overtime to enlighten my mind.”

All the Pautlers pitched in during Mrs. Pautler’s return to concentrated study. Son Mark, an eighth grade pupil in St. Patrick School who hopes to attend Bishop White Seminary, acted as “chief cook and bottle washer,” served as baby-sitter for his two younger brothers, Philip and James, and still kept up with his yard jobs and paper route. Kathleen, a senior at DeSales High School – 4.0 student, choral accompanist, and church organist – helps, too. The only Pautler youngster not at home is 19-year-old Thomas, a second-year pre-med student at Gonzaga University.

Despite her crowded schedule, Mrs. Pautler found time to teach third and fourth grade CCD classes at St. Patrick.

But it isn’t all work in the Pautler household. “We do things as a family,” she said. Music is their specialty. Kathleen plays the piano, Mrs. Pautler plays an old-fashioned German accordion, and the others in the family sing. They enjoy TV and Sunday afternoon drives. They go to Mass as a family, and receive Communion as a family. They pray the rosary every evening.

If Mrs. Pautler has earned her laurels as a teacher, she has earned them doubly as a mother. Kathleen in 1956 earned Mrs. Pautler the title of “Best Mom” – official recognition of something the family has known all along.

From the Inland Register
Vol. 44, No. 6
Twenty-five Years Ago: October 28, 1986

A Gospel servant welcomed home

by Father Michael Savelesky
Special to the Inland Register

The Catholic community of Eastern Washington celebrated a Mass of Christian Burial Tuesday, Oct. 28, for The Most Rev. Bernard J. Topel, retired third bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane.

After a long period of gradually deteriorating health, Bishop Topel died Oct. 22, 1986, of pneumonia and advanced old age. He had been residing at St. Joseph Care Center, Spokane.

In a statement released to the press, Bishop Lawrence H. Welsh said of his predecessor, “The people of Eastern Washington – and particularly the Catholic community – dearly loved Bishop Topel. For us he was truly ‘Father Bishop.’

“During his many years of leadership and ministry as the bishop of the Diocese of Spokane, we came to know him as a man whose mind and heart were convincingly set the Kingdom of God. He was unique in his pastoral ministry as bishop, shepherding his flock with devotion, compassion, and a sense of purpose,” Bishop Welsh said.

“Despite death, the influence of this tremendous man of the Gospel will continue to be felt. The values he incarnated in his personal way of living and the spirit he communicated have struck a resonant chord in those who, like him, seek a more simple and clarion manner of encountering an often confusing and counter-Gospel world,” Bishop Welsh said.

“Bishop Topel’s death leaves a vacuum in the hearts of God’s people,” Bishop Welsh said. “Though struck with understandable sadness, as believers we joyfully celebrate the passing of this outstanding man from life through death to the fullness of life God has promised him. A lifetime of dying to self now leads our brother in Christ to the joys of eternal life.”

Services for the deceased bishop included a Welcoming of the Body, a Solemn Vigil Service, a Mass of Christian Burial, and a Liturgy of Interment.

Bishop Topel’s body, carried in a modest wooden casket, which reflects his life of poverty, was greeted with simple ceremonies at the beginning of the regularly scheduled noon Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, Spokane, on Monday, Oct. 27. Bishop Lawrence H. Welsh presided at the welcoming ceremony.

Following the ceremony, the bishop’s body lay in state in the sanctuary of the cathedral. Decoration was simple: a Book of the Gospels, symbolizing a bishop’s primary responsibility and ministry of evangelization; and a lighted paschal candle, symbolizing the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the giver of eternal life.

The public came to the cathedral during the afternoon and evening hours of Monday, Oct. 27, and the morning hours of Tuesday, Oct. 28, for prayer and meditation. Members of the Knights of Columbus and the Spokane Serra Club, Catholic service organizations, led the faithful in the recitation of the rosary every hour on the hour from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 27, and from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Oct. 28.

Bishop Welsh again presided over a Solemn Vigil Service at the cathedral on Monday evening, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m. Bishop William Skylstad, formerly a priest of the Diocese of Spokane and now bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Yakima, preached the homily. The evening service celebrated the ministry of bishop as preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at the cathedral on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 10:30 a.m., presided over by Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, Archbishop of Seattle and a former student of Bishop Topel. Theme of the liturgy was “Thanksgiving and Prayer in Faith.”

Numerous bishops, priests, and deacons joined the laity and Religious celebrating the Mass of Christian Burial.

At the conclusion of the Mass, the earthly remains of the bishop were carried from the front doors of the Cathedral and down the steps he ascended Oct. 12, 1955, when he was installed as the third Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, succeeding Bishop Charles D. White.

The Liturgy of Interment took place at Holy Cross Cemetery, Spokane, following the Mass of Christian Burial. Bishop Welsh presided over the ceremony, which concluded with the singing of “I Am the Bread of Life,” a Eucharistic hymn celebrating the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ.

(Father Caswell is archivist for the Inland Register, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)


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