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

Pasco’s St. Patrick Parish honors priests

the Inland Register

(From the June 20, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

St. Patrick Parish in Pasco has twice honored area priests in the month of June.

On Sunday, June 9, the parish celebrated Father John Birk on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest. A reception for Father Birk followed the 7:30 a.m. Mass.

Father Birk was ordained as a priest in the Diocese of Spokane on June 8, 1963. He attended seminaries in his hometown of Chicago, in Baltimore, Md., and in Regina, Saskatchewan, in Canada.

He was first assigned to St. Augustine Parish, Spokane, and went on to serve several other parishes in the diocese.

He came to St. Patrick, Pasco, in 1997 and retired from the active ministry in 2005. He also served as pastor at Lourdes Medical Center during his time here.

Father Birk has spent more than 30 years of his pastoral life working with Worldwide Marriage Encounter. He was asked to work with the program, which aims to strengthen the spiritual lives of married couples in the Catholic Church. That work has taken him to parishes across the Spokane Diocese, as well as to places like Hawaii and the Philippines.

Father Birk has also worked to serve the Catholic faith around the world. In 1976, he was named the diocesan coordinator for the Guatemala mission and sponsored a seminarian there. His faith travels have also taken him to war-torn Yugoslavia, Croatia, Brazil, Panama, Australia, the Holy Land and Rome.

He said recently that he is thankful for his life’s calling. “Being a priest has had its challenges, but I love being a priest and being of service to God’s people,” he said. “I wouldn’t want anything else.”

On June 23, the parish will celebrate its outgoing pastor, Father Dan Barnett, on the anniversary of his ordination as a priest, and wish him well on his new assignment.

The celebration honoring Father Barnett will be from 2:30-6 p.m. at the St. Patrick’s gymnasium, 1320 W. Henry St. in Pasco.

Father Barnett grew up in St. Joseph Parish, Kennewick, before his ordination as a priest in the Diocese of Spokane on June 26, 2000.

He answered God’s call to become a priest while enrolled in Officer Candidate School in the United States Marine Corps. He attended seminary at Bishop White, Spokane, and in Rome.

He has served as a priest at St. Patrick on two occasions. His first assignment was from 2000-2002. He returned as pastor in 2007.

His most recent tenure in Pasco has been marked by the expansion of the Spanish ministry at the church to meet the demands of an ever-growing community of Spanish-speaking parishioners. As Franklin County has become one of the fastest-growing counties in the country, much of that growth has come from people immigrating from Spanish-speaking families. That growth has swelled the parish to about 9,000 families.

“One thing about the Catholic Church is her ability to adapt and change, based on the needs of its people,” said Father Barnett. “Before Vatican II, all the Masses were in Latin. For 50 years in the United States, we’ve said Mass in English. As the number of Spanish-speaking parishioners has grown, we’ve had to adapt to meet their spiritual needs in their native language.”

While the event is a celebration of Father Barnett’s service as a priest, it is also a farewell; on July 1 he begins his new assignment as pastor of the parishes in Colville, Northport, Kettle Falls, Republic, and Curlew. His final Mass at St. Patrick is June 30.

He begins his new assignment on July 1.

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