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 December 15, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register
Volume 20, No. 19
50 Years Ago: December 15, 1961

Women’s hostel aids 45 in three months

St. Margaret Hall – Spokane’s “House of Charity for Women” – opened its doors last May. In the first three months of existence, 45 women were sheltered at S. 707 McClellan. Some had behavior or other problems, some were just plain down and out. They were referred by 16 different social agencies – the first time these agencies had a place to refer such women to.

The idea of a special diocesan center for the shelter and eventual rehabilitation of women is a relatively new idea in social welfare. Dozens of church-affiliated and other organizations across the country have set up facilities for homeless men, but few have extended such help to women. From park benches and street corners, such women have had to make their own “shelter arrangements” – often the kind destined to get them into trouble, not out of it.

It was at Bishop Topel’s insistence that St. Margaret Hall – a rather run-down but commodious private residence – was procured as a hostel for women. Through this year’s Diocesan Development Fund, Catholics of the diocese paid for the house.

A little larger

“The people of the diocese bought the hall,” Father Bernard L. Schiller, director of Catholic Charities, said. “Now we’re going to ask them to help support it. I hope each Catholic makes his Christmas Collection donation just a little larger this year – to include St. Margaret Hall.”

Hopes were high that the institution, once established, would be self-supporting. This, he said, is not possible at present, but should come “with more experience and more time – especially time.”

Furniture, bedding, and other equipment at the home have been donated by various individuals and organizations, both Catholic and non-Catholic. So has food.

In the forefront of the “help department” has been St. Margaret Auxiliary, and, as more members join up, help from this source could grow to substantial sums. In October, auxiliary members – now totaling about 25 “actives” – staged two fund-raising events: a card party that put $85 in the treasury, and a rummage sale that added another $110. The group plans to have at least 50 dedicated, hard-working members.

The women meet once monthly, alternating afternoon with evening sessions. Mrs. Vogt also meets with the board of directors each month to correlate planning for the home. Board of directors members are Mrs. Philip J. Carstens, Thomas Pleas, Richard G. Hayes, Norman E. Kilgore, Robert F. Merz, Joseph Stengal, John P. Maloney, Mrs. Elaine Harrigas, Martin Kerin, and Dr. James J. Flynn, chief clinical psychologist at Eastern State Hospital.

Immediate future project at the home will be remodeling of the antique kitchen. Auxiliary members will help with furnishings, but have too small a treasury to underwrite construction costs.

To date, the auxiliary has supplied draperies for the big, bare windows of the hall’s living room, and will provide a Christmas tree, decorations, and individual gifts for the hall’s 10 women residents. Plans are to include one “big” gift all the home’s residents may enjoy.

Thanks to speeches before various women’s groups by Mrs. McDonald and Mrs. James C. Kenney, the “bring-a-can-with-you” idea has caught on. Several parish guilds have taken on supplying St. Margaret’s larder as their yearly project, and a few non-Catholic fraternal and social group also have adopted this plan. Auxiliary members regularly bring canned goods with them to monthly meetings as “supplementary dues.”

The group hopes to interest private contributors in replacing sheets, pillow cases, and towels at the hall.

“They’re threadbare,” Mrs. McDonald said. “They’re all going to go at once – and soon.” Blankets are needed, too, since “the heat just doesn’t reach the bedrooms.”

Auxiliary members recently financed retreats at Immaculate Heart Retreat House for five residents of St. Margaret Hall, providing two-way transportation. Four of the quintet were fallen-away Catholics, and – who knows? – this spiritual refresher course may have lasting value.

Auxiliary members do not have too much personal contact with St. Margaret residents. As Mrs. McDonald said, “They need counseling, and we’re not trained. Dr. Flynn performs this service.”

Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual guidance is given by Father Charles M. Depiere, pastor of Mary Queen Parish, who is also chaplain for St. Margaret’s.

As time goes on, accent at St. Margaret Hall will be more on rehabilitation, less on temporary shelter. But in the meantime, the home is filling a long-felt local need.

Auxiliary members, with dedication and zeal, are helping in every way they can.


From the Inland Register
Vol. 44, No. 8
25 Years Ago: December 11, 1986

Catholic Charities 1986 Christmas Appeal goal is $325,000

Increased demand for services coupled with an anticipated loss of revenue has prompted Catholic Charities to set a goal of $325,000 for the 1986 Christmas Appeal. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Appeal as the major fundraiser for diocesan social services.

“The 1985 Appeal collection brought contributions of $320,000, an increase of $8,000 over 1984 and an all-time high for the collection,” said Donna Hanson, Bishop’s Secretary for Social Services.

“We estimate that we have been able to assist 200,000 people during 1986,” she said. “While this is a notable accomplishment, our statistics tell us that there are 100 elderly people on a waiting list for Volunteer Chore Service, our present staff of counselors can serve only 20 percent of those requesting assistance, the sleeping dorm at the House of Charity is filled to capacity, and our apartment complexes each have waiting lists.

“In reality, $400,000 would actually come closer to meeting the needs.”

The Catholic Charities Christmas collection has been traditionally taken up in all Catholic parishes at Masses on Christmas Day. Individuals are asked for a gift on Christmas Day that will enable programs to continue throughout the year.

Since its programs serve all people in need, regardless of religious affiliation, Bishop Lawrence Welsh has made a special appeal in recent years for donations from the community.

“Our charities are not just for Catholics,” Bishop Welsh said. “Charity is interdenominational. For 75 years, the Diocese of Spokane has provided social services to people of all denominations in the 13 counties of Eastern Washington.”

The funds collected during the Christmas Appeal are combined with other sources of revenue, such as United Way, program fees, government grants and contracts, and additional fund-raising events, and are distributed to Catholic Charities diocesan social service programs throughout the year. In this way, money donated to Catholic Charities is seed money: every $100 donated becomes $700 in goods and services. Christmas Appeal money is “uncommitted” and provides programs with the flexibility to respond to new situations of need.

Services are provided through a number of agencies which are categorized under the umbrella of Catholic Charities:

• Catholic Family Service is a casework agency providing adoption, counseling, and maternity services; refugee resettlement and immigration counseling; and programs for the elderly such as Senior Nutrition, Friendly Visiting, Telephone Reassurance, Volunteer Chore Service, and In-Home Care.
• Subsidized apartments provide 508 units for the elderly and handicapped in Spokane, Walla Walla, and Pullman.
• St. Anne’s Infant Home is a 24-hour residential and respite care facility for severely handicapped children.
• St. Margaret’s Hall is a residential training center for developmentally impaired adult women.
• The House of Charity serves as a survival center for the homeless men on skid road.
• Regional outreach and referrals are available throughout the 13 counties of Eastern Washington through the Catholic Family Service office in Pasco and the Catholic Children and Family Service in Walla Walla. In the North Central, Whitman, Tri-County, and Big Bend areas, regional councils of parish representatives meet, assess area needs, and implement emergency responses.

A most notable accomplishment during the past year has been the completion of a 20-unit addition to the Garden Court Housing Project for the elderly and handicapped in Walla Walla. In addition, a significant pilot program in parish Social Ministry has been implemented at St. Joseph and St. Mary parishes to assist their neighbors.

Plans for 1987 call for a continuation of programs with an expansion of Parish Counseling and Social Ministry programs, continued services beyond Spokane, and assistance with the legal documentation of individuals, especially Hispanics, who are eligible for citizenship.

In his annual pastoral letter on Catholic Charities, Bishop Welsh wrote: “This year I make a special appeal to those among you who have never before donated to the Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal. Your presence at Mass today is a sign of your search for the Lord Jesus Christ. I ask you to search for the Lord in the faces of those around you who are in need. Busy as we are with work and family, it is impossible to respond to all the hurts and needs we see. It is for this reason that Catholic Charities exists.”

Those who wish to donate to the Appeal may do so through either the Christmas Mass collection or by mailing their contribution directly to Catholic Charities, P.O. Box 1453, Spokane, WA 99210-1453.

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


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