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

Father John Sand: 1929-2012

the Inland Register

(From the December 20, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

Father John Sand (IR file photo, 2005)

Father John Sand, ordained a priest of the Spokane Diocese on June 4, 1955, died Nov. 20 in Clarkston, Wash. He was 83 years old.

The vigil rosary was held at Holy Family Parish, Clarkston, on Nov. 27. The funeral Mass was celebrated the next day at Holy Rosary Parish, Pomeroy. Burial followed in the cemetery there.

He was born Jan. 12, 1929, in Greenwald, Minn., the 11th of 14 children. His family moved to Clarkston in 1939. He attended Holy Family School there.

High school, college, and theology were completed at the Pontifical Josephinum Seminary in Worthington, Ohio. It was there that he was ordained to the priesthood in 1955.

He served as an assistant pastor at St. Patrick Parish, Walla Walla (twice); Christ the King, Omak; Our Lady of Fatima, Spokane; and Sacred Heart, Spokane, before being named pastor of Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Northport in 1961.

That assignment was followed by appointments as pastor of St. Joseph, LaCrosse; Christ the King, Omak; Holy Rosary, Pomeroy (twice); Holy Family, Clarkston; Immaculate Conception, Davenport; St. Francis of Assisi in Harrington and St. Joseph in Odessa; and finally, as pastor of St. Joseph, Dayton; St. Mark, Waitsburg; and a third time at Holy Rosary, Pomeroy.

He retired July 1, 1999.

In a 2005 Inland Register interview on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination, he recalled that he had wanted to be a priest since he was very young, including “playing church” with his brothers and sisters on their family farm in Minnesota. “I was always elected to be the priest,” said Father Sand.

The changes of the Second Vatican Council made little difference to him, he said, “except for having to face the people during Mass. As far as I was concerned,” he said, “the switch from Latin to English was a relief.”

He told the IR that what he was most grateful for, after 50 years of priestly ministry, was “being able to say Mass every day. When I was in high school, I really wanted to be able to say Mass, and I love doing that, and I always will.”

In a letter read at the funeral Mass, Bishop Blase Cupich pointed out that Father Sand’s “concern for youth, his compassion for the suffering, and his joyful reception of those in need of God’s grace and forgiveness have left a lasting impression on all he served.

“He did all of these things confident, not in his own abilities, but in the unfailing presence of the Risen Lord, working through him,” wrote Bishop Cupich. “Among all the trials and shadows of this world, Father John fixed his attention on the presence of the Risen Lord as ‘one who does on a lamp shining in a dark place until the first streaks of down appear before the morning star rises’” (1 Peter 12).

Bishop William Skylstad, Bishop Emeritus of the Spokane Diocese, said that “Father John Sand lived a dedicated life to priesthood and service in the Diocese of Spokane. He taught me while in the seminary to become a bookbinder. As a seminarian I was privileged to be at his First Mass in Clarkston in 1954.

“We are most grateful for his ministry as priest of the diocese and for his faithfulness to so many years of priestly service,” said Bishop Skylstad. “May God bless him now with eternal rest and peace.”

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