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


Compiled by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the January 17, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register – Vol. XXXI, No. 21
Fifty Years Ago: December 28, 1962

Your Bishop and You: Carousal in Church!

by Bishop Bernard J. Topel

Many people ask me, “Don’t you find it hard to find something to write each week in the Register?”

Usually I laugh and say, ‘Most of the time, my problem is the opposite. I have so many different things to write about it is not easy to decide on one.” This week is an excellent example of that.

On my way back from Rome I stopped in Guatemala. There are many things that I ought to bring to your attention about our work there. So many indeed that I figure it would take five weekly columns! Then again, I should like to write a series on the (Vatican) Council (II). Finally, after an absence of more than two months, there are important things that need to be said about our diocese. Yet I can only select one out of all these. This week it will be about Guatemala.

One of the reasons we chose Guatemala for our diocesan missionary project was because that country was the worst of any in the world for vocations. Last week I noted in the press that this is still true. There is one priest there for every 11,000 baptized Catholics. In the region where we work there are 45,000 baptized Catholics. We have four priests there. Apparently we have just about the national average. Our region, though, with our coming has improved much. When we went there, there was only one priest to serve this area of 45,000 – and he was on the point of leaving because he was going blind.

In the few years we have been in Guatemala the spiritual results have been good, very good. This improvement is throughout the region, yet I shall write in particular about the parish of Santa Lucia for three reasons. Santa Lucia was the only place I attended Holy Mass this trip. Second, it is the place where we have had most difficulties; and third, the spiritual change is perhaps the greatest.

You may remember that early we encountered difficulty in Santa Lucia. Thus shortly after we began to say Mass there, Fathers Rompa and O’Neill had stones thrown at them. This episode can sound worse than it was, but it would have been no trivial matter if a stone had hit one of the priests. Later Father Rompa, during Holy Week, found it necessary because of the conduct of a pagan-minded, Communist-inspired group, to take the Blessed Sacrament from the church. This was a year ago last Holy Week. For perhaps a year the church was not used by our priests. Instead, Mass was offered each Sunday in a canton not far from the pueblo of Santa Lucia. The people were very unhappy not to have their own priest, yet they wanted him on their terms – terms most unacceptable to our priests.

There were a great many decades, even generations, when Mass was most rarely said in some of our parishes. During those years, the laity cared for the churches and conducted their own kind of services in them. Gradually these too often became pagan; there would even be drunken pagan dances in the church! The first purpose of a priest going back to such a parish is to try to get control of the church again – first the sanctuary, then gradually the whole church, in order to make it a house of God.

So it was in Santa Lucia. It took much discussion before agreements were finally drawn up. Only during last Lent were these signed and sealed. Ever since then, the situation has been much improved.

Because the opposition was the most acute there, because the faithful Catholics had to suffer for being faithful, the change has been more dramatic here than elsewhere. The good Catholics under this opposition have become far better Catholics, and their number has increased much.

I attended Mass there on their fiesta. A fiesta is far more of a civic jamboree than a religious observance. However, they do want their fiesta Mass. On this day, there were about 500 Holy Communions. The number of people attending Sunday Mass and receiving Holy Communion has increased wonderfully in this parish.

Father O’Neill, who has seen this parish from our first going there, was with me at the fiesta. He was deeply impressed by the change. We have high hopes. In fact, we are to begin building a rectory there immediately so that the pastor can live there. This will be a big step forward. Later, a school will come, please God.

To build a rectory in Guatemala is not nearly so serious a matter as it is here. I made a special point to visit the parish at St. Catherine’s in Ixtahuacán to see our “Boston” rectory. (This rectory was paid for by Cardinal Cushing and Msgr. Shea of Boston.) I was amazed at how much can be done there for so little. The total cost, including furnishings, was under $2,500. Yet this rectory would be a credit to any smaller parish in our diocese. Many reasons make this possible. The materials cost very little because they were mostly procured by the people. Labor is unbelievably cheap. There is no heating plant. A kitchen wood-burning stove gives ample heat for the whole house. This rectory contains an office, a combination living room and dining room, a bedroom for the pastor, a kitchen, and a spare room.

We hope to be able to find the money for this rectory at Santa Lucia.


From the Inland Register – Vol. 45, No. 10
Twenty-five Years Ago: January 21, 1988

Msgr. Hugo Pautler: 1905-1988

Msgr. Hugo Pautler, a priest of the Diocese of Spokane for over 55 years, died Jan. 10 in Clarkston, Wash., nine days prior to his 83rd birthday.

His cousin, Father Mark Pautler, chancellor of the Diocese of Spokane, officiated at vigil services on Jan. 12 at Holy Family Church, Clarkston. Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated the following morning by Bishop Lawrence Welsh and concelebrated by priests of the diocese.

The burial liturgy was that afternoon at St. Patrick Church, Walla Walla. Msgr. Pautler was interred at Mt. View Cemetery there.

Msgr. Pautler was born Jan. 19, 1903, in Evansville, Ill. He attended a Catholic grade school in Stratton, Colo., and entered the Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio, in 1920. He was ordained there in 1932.

Msgr. Pautler’s priestly ministry was divided between parishes in Walla Walla and Clarkston. His first assignment was as assistant pastor for St. Patrick Parish, Walla Walla, in 1938. He moved as pastor to St. Francis Parish there in 1938, followed by a move to become pastor of Holy Family Parish, Clarkston, in 1942.

Msgr. Pautler went back to Walla Walla and St. Patrick Parish as pastor in 1953. Fifteen years later he returned to the Clarkston parish, where he stayed until his retirement on Aug. 4, 1975.

He remained in Clarkston after his retirement, sharing a home there with his sister.

He became domestic prelate with the title of Right Reverend Monsignor in November 1957.

A 1968 Inland Register article about Msgr. Pautler describes him having “a reputation both as a builder and as a debt liquidator. Aside from directing the building of the present St. Francis Church while he was assigned there, he later supervised additions to both Holy Family and St. Patrick schools and a convent for the latter’s Sisters, and arranged the purchase of property on which DeSales Catholic High School was later built to succeed St. Patrick High School. He also arranged for the purchase and remodeling of a former Baptist church in Touchet, Wash., which was later opened as a mission to St. Patrick.

Msgr. Pautler was also long associated with the Knights of Columbus. He served twice as state chaplain for the group, from 1955-57 and 1972-74.

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


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