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 September 19, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register – Vol. LII, No. 4
Fifty Years Ago: September 29, 1963

Bishop asks help of Serrans in diocesan vocations drive

“The upper limit in the procurement of candidates for the priesthood has not been achieved,” Bishop Topel told members attending the September meeting of Serra Club International. Bishop Topel reviewed the progress of the quest for vocations to the priesthood over the last decade, mentioning that 10 years ago there were 30 seminarians. This fall, 65 seminarians will report to Mater Cleri and 50 have enrolled at the Bishop White Seminary.

“Is this the limit?” Bishop Topel asked of the 75 who were in attendance at the Pastors’ Night program of the Serra Club.

“My conviction is that we haven’t reached the upper limit and that we can double the number of priests and vocations to the Sisterhood.”

Bishop Topel said that experience had been a good teacher for the diocesan administrators and that at least three steps would be taken to guide those to the Religious life who evince interest. Bishop Topel said that, 1) the selection of candidates would receive more discernment, 2) that once candidates to the Religious life had been accepted, methods for preserving vocations gained through the development of the program would be exercised, and 3) an increase of grace would be implored from the Blessed Mother.

The members of the Serra Club were exhorted to assist vocations through a more effective speaking campaign. He mentioned that while he had rarely encountered a family that would stop a boy from becoming a priest, it was not uncommon for families to discourage daughters from a vocation.

In offering an estimate of the value of Mater Cleri Seminary, Bishop Topel said it was the biggest thing to happen in the diocese in 50 years.

Robert A. Zappone, president of the Spokane Serra Club, outlined the program for the year.

“Beginning Friday, Oct. 4, the monthly nocturnal holy hour for vocations will be held in the chapel of Bishop White Seminary. The practice of holding it in different churches will be discontinued,” he said.

“A Vocations Day play will be encouraged by the Serra Club,” Zappone said. The play will consist of two parts. One is put on by the children of the school under supervision of the Sisters and is a skit concerning vocations. The Serra Club has two skits or plays from which a choice may be made. The other part consists of a “parade of habits” of all the different Religious orders in this area by the schoolchildren, preferably the 4th or 9th graders.

An altar boy program will consist of First Mass Certificates, an investiture ceremony for new altar boys, and an award ceremony for outstanding altar boys.

“A speaker’s bureau will be available for all parishes,” Mr. Zappone said.


From the Inland Register – Volume 46, No. 4
Twenty-five Years Ago: September 15, 1988

House of Charity: 30 years of service to the homeless

by Mary Ann Heskett, for the Inland Register

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the House of Charity, which provides critical services to the homeless of downtown Spokane.

Proceeds from the Bishop’s Poor Man’s Meal will be used to help fund the House of Charity. This year’s dinner will be held Sunday, Oct. 9, at the House of Charity, W. 9 Main Ave. The meal will begin with a blessing at noon, and continue until 2 p.m.

Last year, the House of Charity’s sleeping dormitory was open for 136 straight nights, sheltering many homeless individuals during the coldest winter months. Efforts are now being made to secure funds to continue the service this winter.

A notice of the 30th anniversary of the House of Charity inspired this timely note from a long-time supporter and charter member of the Ladies’ Auxiliary:

“I hope that all goes well with you. Years ago, I worked hard for the House of Charity. I had meetings and gave card parties. At that time, the House of Charity was in a big brick building. It had a chapel where we used to say the rosary. We sewed night shirts and pajamas for the men. I am 89 years old now so I cannot do those things anymore. God bless you all down at the House of Charity.”

The 30-year history of the House of Charity is a collection of these stories. Leadership has changed, buildings and locations are different, but the story remains the same. Year after year, generous people have come forward to lend a hand to see that homeless people are not forgotten.

No one is turned away from the House of Charity. No questions are asked and “no demands are made other than no alcohol and no fighting. We try to treat everyone with compassion and provide the services they need to feel like human beings,” said House of Charity Director Dan Hutchinson.

In 1958, at the request of Bishop Bernard Topel, Brother Martin de Paul, with Brothers Edward, Pius and Francis of the Third Order of St. Francis, arrived from Minneapolis and began converting an old hotel on Havermale Island to a home for men.

According to Mary McKenna’s Twenty-five Cents and God, “Bishop Topel gave them much support. He rolled up his clerical sleeves on Christmas Day and helped serve the dinner. On Easter Sunday, he said the first Mass in the barely completed chapel.

“The Brothers worked hard setting up their feeding and housing programs,” she wrote. “With the cooperation of the Spokane business people, they begged, cooked, served and cleaned. They had food donated to feed 300-400 people every day.”

In 1971, the City of Spokane purchased the Havermale Island site to prepare for Expo ’74. The House of Charity, with the assistance of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, reopened at a second location, at W. 35 Trent Ave. People involved during that time included Father Eugene Mulligan, Joe Doblmeier, and Henry DeLaney. Joe worked until he could no longer hear the telephone and volunteered until his death in 1982. Henry DeLaney was responsible for the operation for many years, opening and closing the center when no one else was available. Henry also helped to secure the new building and arranged for regular donations of food from local grocers.

On Christmas Eve 1974, the Trent Avenue site was destroyed by fire. Within the year, Father Frank Bach and a dedicated group of laymen recommended to Bishop Topel that he purchase the present building at W. 9 Main Avenue and begin the renovations necessary to offer a major mid-city drop-in program. Previous directors at the Main Avenue location have been Ted Poirier, Glenn Paulsen, and Ken Norris.

The House of Charity received a 1979 grant from the City of Spokane to remodel the second floor in order to provide emergency winter housing. The city provides annual funds for this program, which offers a shower, clean pajamas and 136 straight nights of warm and safe sleeping each winter.

The Spokane community continues to support the work at the House of Charity. According to Hutchinson, “The people in our area seem to have room in their hearts for the ‘down-and-out-er.’” The House of Charity serves a noon meal to 1,200 people each week. Nearly all of the food is donated.

The House of Charity has the only free drop-in medical clinic in Spokane. This clinic is sponsored by the Sisters of Providence, Sacred Heart Medical Center and is staffed by two volunteer doctors, G. Fletcher Luger and Sam Shikany, and by nurses from the Service League. This clinic treats 150 patients each month.

Other volunteers do correspondence, serve meals, drive the delivery truck to pick up donations, and keep watch throughout the winter nights. The members of the Ladies’ Auxiliary provide furnishings for the upstairs dormitory, process the monthly newsletter and pay for needed medical prescriptions.

In addition to the House of Charity’s 30th anniversary, present director, Dan Hutchinson, is celebrating his 10th anniversary in that post. He recently discussed the future of the House of Charity.

“The present building was purchased in 1976 to last 10 years,” he said. “Although we get many donations of food, clothing, towels and blankets, we still have to pay the bills – $1,200 a month for wintertime utilities! Not much is left over for needed improvements.”

Nearly all funds for daily operations come from loyal supporters who respond to a monthly appeal for donations. The October Poor Man’s Meal raises needed dollars for the winter sleeping program.

Hutchinson is constantly impressed by the generosity of donors and the commitment of volunteers: “These wonderful people give without reservation to the poor. They offer the kind of expertise that you couldn’t pay for.”

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


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