Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


From the Archives

Compiled by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the October 18, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register
Vol. XXXI, No. 7 | 50 Years Ago: September 21, 1962

Expect large attendance at Colville Parish jubilee

Some 70 members of the clergy from within and without the Spokane Diocese, and large numbers of laymen, are expected to attend the Solemn Pontifical Mass at 11:15 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 26, to mark the 100th anniversary of Immaculate Conception Parish, Colville.

Colville is the historic site where a diocesan priest-missionary first offered the Sacrifice of the mass in the Spokane Diocese.

Bishop Topel will celebrate the Colville centenary Mass. Others in the sanctuary will include the Rt. Rev. Monsignor Oakley F. O’Connor, assistant; Father Bernard J. Barry, deacon of honor; the Very Rev. Alexander F. McDonald SJ, provincial of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, deacon of honor; the Very Rev. Anton Flour, deacon; Father Cyril Feisst, subdeacon; Father John P. Sand, mitre; Father Theodore F.X. Bradley, crozier; Father Walter F. Abel, book; Father Eugene M. Glatt, bugia; Father John W. O’Dea, cremial; Father Hubert G. MacEvilly, thurifer; Father Ronald Schenk, acolyte; Father William Van Ommeren, JCD, and Father Norman N. Triesch, masters of ceremony.

The Rt. Rev. Monsignor John J. Coleman, JCD, vicar general of the Spokane Diocese, will be preacher.

Chaplains to His Excellency, the Most Rev. Wilfred E. Doyle, JCD, DD, Bishop of Nelson, B.C., will be the Very Rev. Francis D. Masterson SJ and Father John F. Fahey.

The parish choir will sing the Mass of the Mystical Rose by Carnevali, with Mary Goetter as organist and Therese Slater as choir director.

Father Joseph Pash, present pastor of the Colville parish, said a dinner for visiting clergy will be held at 1 p.m. in the parish social center. The Altar Society, chaired by Mrs. Robert Buckley, president, is in charge of arrangements.

Assisting Mrs. Buckley will be Rose Artman, Patricia Raftis, Helen Egger, Mary Margaret Barney, Helen Kester, Mary Schuerman, Mabel Hirsch, Margaret Rice, Maude Bresnahan, Blanche Mariani, Eileen Bresnahan, Frances Lenoue, and Gladys Hughes.

A dinner for visiting Sisters will be held at 1 p.m. at nearby Our Lady of the Valley Convent at Kettle Falls.

Immaculate Conception in Colville lays claim as “first Mass site” and has played a prominent role in the early history of the Inland Empire and the arrival of the Church in the Pacific Northwest.

From the Inland Register
Vol. 45, No. 6 | 25 Years Ago: October 29, 1987

SNJMs celebrate centennial in Diocese of Spokane

The diocese is called Nesqually. Statehood is still a year away. Horse-drawn carriages are the order of the day on downtown streets – what few streets there are.

But already, by the summer of 1888, Eastern Washington has come into its own. Jesuit missionaries have planted and nurtured seeds of faith among the native peoples. Pioneer stock – Irish, Italian, French Canadian, German – have put down roots along the river. An infant Inland Northwest of the future is awake and howling for its needs to be met.

On July 25, 1888, at something after 5 a.m., three hot, dusty Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary stepped off the Northern Pacific train and into the history of Spokane. Father James Rebmann SJ, pastor of the parish – Our Lady of Lourdes was as yet the city’s only parish – met the travelers. The Sisters of Providence at the old Sacred Heart Hospital provided the first taste of Spokane welcome, initiating a century of friendship and mutual support. Spokane, and especially its Jesuit clergy, had been bombarding heaven and everyone on the way for help to meet the evident and growing need for Christian education. Congregational archives abound with letters from Father Joseph Cataldo SJ for Sisters to come, and from Nesqually Bishop Aegidius Junger in support of his plea.

To Mother John the Baptist, Superior General of the Sisters of the Holy Names, Bishop Junger writes in October 1887: “Spokane Falls is a rich and promising city. It has between 7,000-8,000 and it will double that number in one year if it will continue to increase as it has done in the past year.”

From the casual vantage of the 1980s, the risk and challenge of a Religious congregation accepting the distant mission of the 1880s is almost impossible to conceive. The first step in a century of faith was unquestionably the “yes” to Spokane Falls. Despite glowing descriptions, the city and all of Eastern Washington was still pioneer wilderness; isolation, poverty, homesickness, danger came with the territory.

But with the territory also came the people, especially the children. The first Sisters spent July preparing the building on Main between Bernard and Washington for living quarters and school. On Aug. 28, three more Sisters arrived to round out the faculty, and all six spent Sept. 2, the day before the opening of school, in retreat, asking God’s blessing on the work ahead. On Sept. 3, 1888, the children came – 58 girls and 44 boys – and parochial education in Eastern Washington was born.

First called Convent of the Holy Names, the Main Street school became officially Our Lady of Lourdes Parish School in 1891. That year the new Holy Names Academy opened its doors in what was known as the Sinto Addition to a growing Spokane. The first Academy pupils – six boarders and six day students – were to grow into thousands over the next 84 years.

Chronicles of those years, meticulously written by the Sisters in Spenserian hand at first, then Palmer Method and Wesco with succeeding generations, tell the story of Catholic life and education in Spokane. Accounts of fire, outbreaks of typhoid and diphtheria, struggles to survive in changing times are balanced by light-hearted reviews of recitals, holidays, boarders’ pranks, and reliance on prayer as the touchstone of everything. These historical documents, bound and carefully preserved, are housed in the Holy Names Provincial Archives, a rich source of Spokane’s story.

From the Academy beginning, a full range of educational services developed, underscoring the charism of the Holy Names foundress, Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, that her Sisters be “educators in faith” wherever and whenever they are called.

In addition to an elementary and secondary curriculum, the Sisters added a normal school in 1908, forerunner of a full four-year liberal arts college for women opening in 1938.

Special concern for the poor was always a part of the Holy Names tradition as the Sisters looked to St. Joseph to provide for those who could not afford tuition. The “St. Joseph’s Account” code alerted generations of community bookkeepers to his special children. Following the same unbroken heritage, the Washington Province currently allocates significant resources in personnel, facilities, and finances to projects in direct service to the poor.

Music and arts were strong elements of education from the beginning. Besides teaching and nurturing talent within their students, the Sisters themselves contributed generously to the artistic life of the Church and the city through participation, support, and service.

The growth of the Spokane Church brought new parishes throughout the diocese, and with them, the call for Catholic education. The Sisters of the Holy Names accepted the mission at St. Patrick in 1915, St. Aloysius in 1916, Sacred Heart in 1922, St. Boniface (Uniontown) and St. Francis of Assisi in 1932, Holy Rosary (Pomeroy) in 1939, and St. Paschal in 1940.

The early 1930s brought lay catechists to the Academy for evening courses in pedagogy and Christian doctrine. Under master teachers, catechists learned not only what to teach various age groups, but how to teach as well, designing materials and developing curricula for continuity of learning long before publishers caught on to the idea.

In addition to training religion teachers, the Sisters themselves spent Saturdays, Sundays, and special summer weeks conducting religious classes in parishes without schools, and in some areas where parishes were not yet established. Early residents of Veradale, Minnehaha, and Peaceful Valley remember.

Special populations were always important. Sisters received early training in sign language to work with deaf children. Work with Lakeland Village residents began in the 1930s and 1940s, and has blossomed into ongoing programs in special education still sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Names.

Today over 150 members of the Congregation serve as educators in faith in Eastern Washington. Sisters are school administrators, teachers, tutors, and support staff. They share professional rank with colleagues in universities, diocesan and public agencies, service programs, and institutions. Parishes throughout the diocese find them competent, ready, adaptable to the needs of the contemporary Church, able to bring a century of faith in practice to the work of today.

With the advent of the Associate program within the Congregation, a share in the educational mission is more readily available to dedicated lay men and women who serve in growing numbers in the names of Jesus and Mary.

A century of prayer, dedication, and courage behind them, the Sisters of the Holy Names in Spokane recognize their blessings. With the thousands they have served directly and the tens of thousands these, in turn, have served, the Sisters remember the past with gratitude and turn their eyes to the future where God continues to call with the eternally new challenge: “Follow me.”

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


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