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


Hundreds enjoy open house at San Juan Diego Mission, Basin City

by Father Kevin Oiland, for the Inland Register

(From the November 21, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

The present worship space for San Juan Diego Mission in Basin City (above) is a vast improvement over the community’s old building (right). (IR photos courtesy of Father Kevin Oiland)

Some 300-400 members, friends, and families came together for a special open house at San Juan Diego Mission, Basin City, Sept. 29.

The mission is served from St. Vincent Parish, Connell. St. Paul Parish, Eltopia, also participates.

The purpose of the open house was to invite people of both communities to see the building the mission has been leasing and intends to purchase.

At the open house, people had a chance to walk around and see the building, with its classrooms, office, newly renovated hall, and of course the worship space itself, with new pews recently acquired from the now-closed St. Ambrose Church in Lind.

A series of speakers talked about the history and goals of the mission.

Among those giving talks was Father Robert Turner, former pastor of the parishes in Connell and Eltopia, who talked about the establishment of the mission. Father Turner is now pastor of the parishes in Dayton, Pomeroy, and Waitsburg.

Providence Sister Myrta Iturriaga also spoke as one of the original three Providence Sisters who came from Chile to help start the ministry in Basin City. She spent three years in that work, and returned in 2012 to continue working with the Hispanic community.

She had wanted to be a missionary, but thought that would mean working in another Latin American country. She was surprised to be invited to become a missionary in the United States – but happily discovered there was plenty of missionary work to be done here.

Denny Hayden and Greg Hart then spoke about the discovery of the current church being sold by the Abundant Life community, and all the discussions that went on to decide to purchase the building. In the end, they and the committee, put together by Father Pedro Bautista-Peraza, then pastor of Connell and Eltopia, met with Bishop Cupich. “They are and have been instrumental in maintaining the necessary flow that goes into the business side of leasing and purchasing a new building,” said Father Oiland.

Hundreds of people gathered for an open house earlier this year at San Juan Diego Mission, Basin City. (IR photo courtesy of Father Kevin Oiland)

Father Bautista-Peraza spoke about how so many items in the church came from other churches or even other parts of the world, which is emblematic of the community itself, made up of many people and families from all different parts of Mexico and Latin America. He also tied in elements of that Sunday’s Gospel, the story of the rich man and Lazarus, and how there continues to be need found on the doorsteps of today.

Pastor Thomas Graves, pastor of the Abundant Life community, then spoke on the Providence of God in bringing about the community of San Juan Diego, who needed a bigger building, at just the time when the Abundant Life community hoped to sell their current building and rebuild a new church. He spoke on how important it is for all disciples of Christ to come together and build each other up, and how the two communities sharing the same space, even though it is temporary, is a great testimony to fellowship in following the one Master.

Mike Vincent is San Juan Diego’s contractor and a parishioner of St. Paul, Eltopia. Vincent spoke about the work he and his crew did in renovating the hall and the importance of having a building that is maintained and maintainable.

Finally, Bishop Cupich concluded with an exhortation to the effect that as important as the building is (the ostensible reason for the gathering), the Church really is made up of the people. He spoke about how pleased he was to see such a vibrant and dedicated community.

After the presenters had spoken and Bishop Cupich gave the community his blessing, the people enjoyed a meal provided by the San Juan Diego community.

(Father Oiland is the pastor of San Juan Diego Mission, as well as St. Vincent Parish in Connell and St. Paul Parish, Eltopia.)


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