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
Father George Morbeck, pastor of Republic and Curlew, dies at age 85
the Inland Register
(From the November 17, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)
Father George Morbeck (Undated IR file photo)
Father George Howard “Howie” Morbeck died Nov. 3 in Spokane after a short illness. He was 85 years old and had been a priest of the Spokane Diocese for 59 years.
The rosary was recited the morning of Nov. 8, followed by the funeral Mass, celebrated by Bishop Blase Cupich, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes; Father Charles Skok preached. Burial was at Holy Cross Cemetery, Spokane.
George Morbeck was born in Uniontown, Wash. He was baptized at St. Boniface Church there, and attended St. Boniface School before entering St. Edward Seminary, Kenmore, Wash.
During his school years he worked as a farmhand and helped with his father’s trucking business. In 1948 and 1949 he did Religious Vacation school work in Dayton and Waitsburg, and again in Colville in the summers of 1950 and 1951.
One extracurricular school activity was work as a stagehand.
He was ordained a priest of the Spokane Diocese on April 30, 1952.
For the first four years of his priestly ministry he served as assistant pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Pasco, followed by nearly two years as assistant at Holy Family parish in Clarkston.
He became pastor of the parishes in Brewster and Twisp in 1958, followed by Omak in 1963, Oroville in 1967, Ritzville in 1970, and the parishes in Newport, Metaline Falls, Ione, and Usk in 1977.
His last assignment was pastor of the parishes in Republic and Curlew, where he was assigned April 13, 1988.
“Father Morbeck was a very dedicated priest, dying with his ‘boots on’ as he wished,” said Bishop William Skylstad, bishop emeritus of the Spokane Diocese.
“He was my pastor when I celebrated my first Mass in Sacred Heart Parish in Brewster,” said Bishop Skylstad. “When I witnessed my sister’s wedding in the parish, it was Father Morbeck who helped my brothers fasten tin cans to the bride and groom’s car. That was Father Morbeck.
“May God grant him eternal rest and peace.”
A May 2002 Inland Register interview marked the occasion of his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination. A few highlights of that interview:
• Father Morbeck doesn’t recall any particular desire to be a priest when he was growing up. He said he knew he would be a priest “about a half-hour before I was ordained.” He remembers playing Mass as a child, but “I was never the priest; my older brother was. He was already an altar server and I was still in training. So he got to be the priest” when they played.
• He knows … that serving as a priest is not routine. Officiating at the sacraments and being present at significant moments in people’s lives fills his days as a priest even yet.
• He recalled the many times people have asked him to hear their confessions, not only in church but in other places, too, such as a service station. This sacrament makes him especially aware that he is only “an instrument of the Lord’s forgiveness.”
He has been humbled by such experiences and also blessed. In his 50 years as a priest, Father Morbeck has learned “it always works out when you’re doing the Lord’s work.”