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 March 15, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register
Vol. XX, No. 29
50 Years Ago: February 23, 1962

Drive to build seminary; campaign to open Feb. 25

The Diocesan Development Fund drive for 1962 – to be announced in every parish Sunday, Feb. 25 – is designed to take care of the diocese’s most vital need – a new minor seminary.

The new seminary – Mater Cleri, or “Mother of the Clergy” – will open its doors in September, 1963.

To be located on a 120-acre tract near Colbert, the seminary will cost an estimated minimum of $750,000, including property and furnishings.

The 1962 DDF campaign goal is $600,000, and Bishop Topel has asked that every Catholic in the diocese “outdo previous generosity in pledging to this year’s fund drive.”

“The shortage of priests and facilities for their education and training has made it imperative that we build our own seminary,” Bishop Topel said.

Present seminarians in the first three years of high school number 70, crowded but adequately provided for, in Bishop White Seminary at E. 429 Sharp – a private residence converted into a seminary in 1956 to accommodate that year’s crop of 17 freshmen students. This past year, a recreation room was converted into a classroom to accommodate seminarians in the junior year. Next year, the bishop said, this facility will very likely be overcrowded.

Prior to 1961, junior seminarians and beyond were sent to out-of-diocese seminaries. Crowded conditions at these facilities have closed the doors to any more Spokane-area seminarians.

“Since our seminarians must be educated, the time has come when we must do the job ourselves,” the bishop said.

He added that the acute shortage of priests in this diocese can be solved in no other way. Some large city parishes with a work load for a pastor and assistant are now being served by one badly “over-worked” pastor. Five parishes have been temporarily without resident priests during this year alone. Also, the need for priest teachers is fast increasing in the diocese.

In addition to the acute shortage of priests here, “we have a spiritual obligation to the even more priest-short Catholics of Latin America,” Bishop Topel said. Four diocesan priests are now serving the Guatemala Mission; more are needed.

Most hopeful factor, he said, in the whole priestly manpower problem, is “the great increase in vocations during recent years.” Since vocations cannot be nurtured in public high schools or even adequately in Catholic high schools, future priests must be provided with education and training at the new Mater Cleri.

The new seminary will have accommodations for 125 young men and will be academically accredited from the third year of high school through the second year of college. Designed by Spokane architects Funk, Murray, and Johnston, it will include a chapel, four classrooms, laboratory, library and study hall. Of four dormitories planned, two will be built immediately. College students will have private rooms.

The seminary also will include a gymnasium-auditorium, refectory, kitchen, six faculty suites, administration offices, and faculty lounge.

The present Bishop White Seminary at E. 429 Sharp will continue in use for freshmen and sophomore seminarians.

It is emphasized that the 1962 Diocesan Development Fund Drive will take care of all such once-regular special collections as those for Catholic University and the Indian and Negro missions. The one exception is the Christmas Charities collection.

Deanery chairmen and parish campaign chairmen and workers have been organized. Personal calls will be made on every Catholic in the diocese.

The name of the new seminary is pronounced “Mah’-tehr Cleh’ree."

From the Inland Register
Vol. 44, No. 13
25 Years Ago: March 26, 1987

‘I live with the saints every day’

Father Wilfred Schoenberg SJ isn’t quite sure just how many books he’s written and published – “at least 12, maybe more; I don’t have them all right here in my room:” – but the latest is ambitiously titled A History of the Catholic Church in the Pacific Northwest: 1743-1983 (The Pastoral Press, Washington, D.C.; 883 pages; $34.95).

The 72-year-old Jesuit spends at least three to four months doing nothing but research before he begins writing, which is done longhand; arthritis precludes the use of a typewriter anymore.

Although he has written books on a variety of subjects – papal encylicals; an historical novel about a Jesuit missionary in China – recent works have concentrated on history, especially aspects of Northwest history. Last year saw the publication of These Valiant Women, on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. Upcoming publications include a history of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps as well as that of the Ku Klux Klan in the Northwest between 1921-28.

Several things strike the reader taking in the Northwest history volume. The characters Father Schoenberg describes are presented not so much as two-dimensional figures on a tapestry but as genuine individuals who lived and breathed, who accomplished much and sometimes fell short as well.

One advantage Father Schoenberg had in writing this book, in fact, is that he knew many of the principle movers and shakers of whom he writes.

“I knew a lot of them,” he said. “I studied them. And I’ve kept a journal for over 40 years now.

“I want to present them as they were – so people would know and like them, but warts and all.”

But the warts and all don’t necessarily lessen his admiration and respect for the historical figures who are his stock in trade.

“I can’t say which of them are my favorites,” Father Schoenberg said. “Some of the bishops (in the history of the Northwest) I admire very, very much. Of course, I respect them all – I don’t want to give the impression I don’t.

“But I especially admire (Archbishop Edwin) O’Hara,” the second bishop of Great Falls, Mont. “I think O’Hara was one of the really great prelates in American history.

“Archbishop Edward Howard (of Portland, Ore.) was very kind to me when I was doing research for another book,” Father Schoenberg said.

“I knew (Bishop Charles) White quite well; I dearly loved (Bishop Augustine) Schinner” (the second and first bishops of Spokane, respectively).

But Father Schoenberg has a special fondness for two women who were instrumental in the history of Catholicism in the Northwest: St. Frances Cabrini and Mother Joseph. “I’ll be working here at my desk and I’ll yell at them – ‘Hey, Cabrini, I need your help here.’

“I really enjoy doing this kind of a book,” Father Schoenberg said, “because I consider it a continuation of the Acts of the Apostles. We need to know our roots, the stories of triumph over diversity, so we can cope with them.”

But perhaps more importantly, he said, “I live with these people,” the subjects of his books. “It’s a privilege. I live with the saints every day.”

(Father Schoenberg’s latest book, A History of the Catholic Church in the Pacific Northwest: 1743-1983, is published at $34.95 by the Pastoral Press in Washington, D.C., and is available at Kaufer’s.)

(Father Caswell is Inland Register archivist.)


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