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 February 20, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register – Volume LII, No. 40
Fifty Years Ago: February 2, 1964

Bishop Pontificates at Church Blessing

by Mrs. C.E. Gilleland
Correspondent, Inland Catholic Register

CLARKSTON (HOLY FAMILY PARISH) – Bishop Topel blessed Clarkston’s new Holy Family Catholic Church at 11th and Chestnut Streets at 5 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 12. The solemn blessing was the climax of events which began July 1, 1962, with groundbreaking ceremonies on the site, which served the parish for 60 years.

Two former pastors of the parish and three former members of the parish who are now guests took part in the ceremony. The Rev. Ralph Schwemin, one of the former parishioners, gave the dedicatory sermon at the Solemn High Mass which followed the bishop’s blessing. Taking his theme from King Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple in the Third Book of Kings, Father Schwemin, pastor of Assumption Church in Spokane, spoke on the idea of sacrifice and said it culminates in the offering of the sacrifices of the Mass, which he called the “greatest act of prayer to God.”

Bishop Topel spoke after the Mass, which was attended by nearly 600, and thanked the parishioners for their efforts in building the new church and praised the pastors who had served the parish and all who had anything to do with the project. He noted that the church was dedicated to the Holy Family on the feast day of the Holy Family, and expressed a hope that the families of the parish would take the church patrons as an example and “become holy families yourselves.”

The Mass was sung by the pastor, the Rev. Albert F. Austen. The deacon was the Rev. John Sand, pastor of St. Joseph Church at LaCrosse; and the subdeacon was his brother, the Rev. Peter Sand, a member of the faculty at St. Martin College, Olympia. The brothers are also former members of the parish. The masters of ceremonies were the Rev. Donald Adams, assistant pastor of the parish, and the Very Rev. Msgr. William Van Ommeren, Chancellor of the diocese.

Chaplains to the bishop were the Very Rev. Anton Flour, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Pullman and dean of the Colfax Deanery, and the Rev. Arthur Joda, former pastor of Holy Family Church and now pastor of St. Joseph Church, Trentwood. Also in the sanctuary was the Very Rev. Monsignor Hugo Pautler, former pastor of Holy Family Church, who is now pastor of St. Patrick Church at Walla Walla.

A dinner for the clergy for the heads of the parish organizations was served by the ladies of the Altar Society of Holy Family Parish, under the chairmanship of Mrs. Clarence Scharnhorst, Altar Society president. About 125 persons attended, including 53 members of the clergy.

From the Inland Register – Volume 46, No. 11
Twenty-Five Years Ago: February 9, 1989

Miryam House of Transition offers new life

by Carla M. Lee, for the Inland Register

People looking at the large yellow house on E. 227 Mission would most likely think it is just another family residence. But actually this house is more than just a residential home. It’s a long-term residence for women in transition, the only facility of its kind in Spokane. It’s called Miryam House.

This special facility, which is for women only, began three years ago, getting its idea and conception from five communities of women Religious: the Dominicans, Holy Names, Providence, St. Francis of Philadelphia and Good Shepherd Sisters. These Religious communities don’t often gather together to work on projects; but this was an idea many of them had in mind to make a reality.

The house is owned by the Dominican Sisters and given free of charge to the Miryam staff. This is the only way they can afford to provide such a facility for its residents.

Sister Bernadette Ries OP, the director, and Sister Peggy Kennedy SNJM, assistant director, work without salary, as do the other Religious Sisters who staff the home. The full- and part-time staff – also volunteer – rotate to keep a staff person available 24 hours a day. Only one lay person, Pat Shanks, voluntarily works in the house. The Sisters find it hard to get lay people to work many hours for free.

Women who are accepted by the staff to come and live in the home are recovering from drugs or alcohol, physical and sexual abuse, and are provided with an atmosphere in which to recover and heal. With the program the Religious Sisters have set up, the residents can grow and recover in a healthy and loving environment. This is something most of them have never had in their lives, and it’s because of this that many have turned to drugs and alcohol in order to deal with their pain.

Explained Sister Peggy, “I’m not going to excuse (the women). But what we find, whether they’re drug or alcohol abusers or not, the reality of what they’ve lived before they ever started their drug or alcohol abuse, would literally make you sick. The stories we hear in terms of the amount of physical and sexual abuse they have lived through and the kinds of families they’ve been raised in – it’s no wonder they’ve turned to alcohol and drugs.”

Before abused women are accepted into the Miryam House program, they must be willing to help themselves and must be involved in a program to begin their recovery process. Once accepted, the women are informed that the important part of the Miryam House program is based on spirituality. If they can’t or don’t want to deal with that, then they don’t have to live there.

There’s no discrimination of race, creed, color or religion in this facility, and no one religion is focused on. To truly heal, the women need a higher power to help them, and that power is God. Religion is never pushed on the residents, but they’re encouraged to find the deep inner spiritual faith that each is capable of having.

Each meal is accompanied with a prayer, and the topic of God in their lives frequently comes up in everyday conversation. The staff and residents find strength to cope with their lives in God and prayer. One resident said, “I have worked hard through counseling and prayer to become a better, more wholesome person. I have but one person to thank: God.”

Prayer is just one part of the healing process. The house has a capacity for six women; each is responsible for paying rent, if she is able; doing household chores; going to school or work; or taking time to heal and recover.

The women, who range in age between 19-56, usually stay at the home for an average of six months, though longer if need be.

Leaving the Miryam House to live independently is called the Phase II process, during which each woman must meet certain criteria. Through support and staff advisement, their personal goals, financial situation and readiness to leave are reviewed and considered. After leaving, each alumna is assigned a contact person who visits weekly to assist with budgeting and other tasks of independent living.

Away from the Miryam House, alumnae always remain a part of the family through newsletters, monthly banquets and annual fundraising events. The program’s success rate is considered very high, not just in regard to alumnae’s employment or independent success but on each woman’s success in reaching her own personal goals.

Thanks to the program within the house, 20 women in the past three years have been able to successfully change their lives. They are now happier and more wholesome individuals. One alumna expressed her feelings about Miryam House by saying, “But in our hearts we will never part. So from my heart to yours, thank you for giving me a brand new start!”

With the many donations given to the Miryam House by its supporters and the work of the Holy Names alumnae, other women will be given the chance of a brand new start, too. Presently, the staff is in the process of looking at larger houses that are for sale to start a second facility to help even more women. Every day they have to turn away people due to a present lack of space.

“Miryam’s House has given me the gift of life,” said one resident. “For this I am forever grateful.” With the continuing help of supporters, many more may be given “the gift of life.”

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


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