Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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 July 18, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)
Fifty Years Ago: June 9, 1963
Your Bishop and You
by Bishop Bernard Topel
Pope John is dead.
Perhaps never before has a Pope been loved so much by so many. Certainly never before has a pope been so much loved, truly loved, by so many who are not in the Fold. Our Separated Brethren hold him in the highest esteem ... and loved him. They showed that love by praying for him these last days as they have never before prayed for a pope.
The love of non-Catholics was demonstrated for him at the Council. Pope John came to visit the Council several times and spoke to us. The bishops loved him and showed that love by spirited and long applause. But each time he appeared the non-Catholic observers continued to applaud long after the bishops’ applause had ceased.
When Pope Pius XII died, I felt that no one could take his place. This thought continued after Pope John’s election. In this opinion I was both right ... and wrong. I was right because Pope John did not take the place of his predecessor. He would be the first to see this and to say it. I was wrong because actually Pope John carved out another place of at least equal importance. Pope John gave in a few short years new direction and vision to the Church in an amazing degree – in a degree such as perhaps no other pope has done in such a short time.
It is an oversimplification to say what I next write, but there is great truth in it. Pope Pius XII gave an extraordinary leadership of the mind that was at the same time spiritual; Pope John, on the other hand, gave an extraordinary leadership of love which also, of course, was spiritual. Clearly this is an over simplification, for Pius XII was certainly also a man of great love and John was a Pope of great learning as is clear from the encyclicals Mater et Magistra, Pacem in Terris, etc.
At the beginning, Pope John, of course, was almost unknown to us. It was only with the passing of time that we grew in appreciation of him. It was especially during the Council that the administration of the bishops – and their love for him – grew greater and greater.
All know Pope John to have been a kindly loving, lovable, pastoral, saintly man of God. In four-and-a-half short years many were the significant and important things that he did. His efforts for world peace and social justice are especially notable. Yet it seems to me that the two things of greatest importance in his life can be expressed by the two words, reunion and pastoral. These words, in a most unusual way, became the guiding stars of the First Session of the Second Vatican Council.
When the late Holy Father first spoke of reunion, I felt that reunion was far, far away. By the time the Session of the Council was over, I knew that in God’s providence, reunion could be much closer than I had dared hope. It had become clear to me that the prayer of all Christians, whether Catholic or non-Catholic, might well work miracles – that the love of separated followers of Christ for one another conceivably could bring astounding results. No longer do I think that Pope John was overly optimistic about the possibility of reunion.
Over and over again in the Council, we heard the word “pastoral.” For Pope John this emphasis on the pastoral was to rejuvenate the Church, to cause Catholics everywhere to be true and completely devoted followers of Christ. Over and over again, he spoke to us about these results which were to come, he hoped, like a new Pentecost.
Pope John believed that these results of reunion and revitalization of the Church presumably would come from the Council. Please God, now that he is no longer with us, his wishes will be gloriously fulfilled.
We are saddened and almost crushed by the death of the Holy Father. Let us remember though that we were equally crushed when Pope Pius XII died. Then, as now, we felt a hopelessness about finding a worthy successor. Yet when Pius XII died, God did provide an extraordinary successor for him. As a matter of fact, in the last hundred years, we have had a succession of very great popes providentially selected by Almighty God. I have no doubt then that, though we rightly feel the loss of Pope John most keenly, God will again provide an extraordinary leader for His Church.
Twenty-five Years Ago: August 25, 1988
Sister Peter Claver awarded distinguished papal honor
Providence Sister Peter Claver, senior executive of Sacred Heart Medical Center, was honored with the “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” (“For the Church and the Pope”) award in a private ceremony Aug. 7. The award was made public Aug. 9.
The extremely rare award, instituted by Pope Leo XIII, is given to Catholic men and women to honor them for their outstanding lives of service.
Sister Peter Claver is the former president and chief executive officer of SHMC, where she has served in various capacities for 24 years.
At the public press conference Aug. 9, Bishop Lawrence Welsh pointed out that perhaps five individuals in the United States receive the honor each year.
Bishop Welsh submitted Sister Peter Claver as a potential recipient of the award.
“The Holy Father is very impressed with the history of (SHMC) and the work of the Sisters of Providence throughout the Northwest,” Bishop Welsh said.
When the award was initially presented to Sister Peter Claver at the private ceremony Aug. 7, she said it was a “total and complete shock to be presented with the award … I had no idea” that she was to be the recipient.
The award itself is a gold cross suspended from a gold and white ribbon. Sts. Peter and Paul are engraved on the cross.
Bishop Welsh also presented a large, framed letter bestowing the award on Sister Peter Claver.
Sister Peter Claver was born Lucille Thomas in Terry, Mont.
She entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Providence in Seattle after first graduating as a nurse from the Columbia School of Nursing, Great Falls, Mont.
She eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing education from Gonzaga University and a master’s in hospital administration from St. Louis University. In 1987, St. Louis University honored her with its Distinguished Alumna Award.
She became administrator of Sacred Heart in 1964. By 1968 groundbreaking ceremonies were held to begin construction of a new medical center.
• 1967: Elected president of the Northeastern Washington Hospital Council and president of the Washington State Hospital Association.
(Father Caswell is archivist for the Inland Register, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)
© The Catholic Diocese of Spokane. All Rights Reserved