Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


Compiled by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the January 15, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register – Volume LIII, No.38
Fifty Years Ago: January 17, 1965

Sisters of Charity of Providence: Hospital administrators see many modernizing tasks

Today’s hospitals are faced with a real challenge in meeting both the demands of modern medicine and the standards set by state health departments.

The Sisters of Charity of Providence, who administer Spokane’s Sacred Heart Hospital, Walla Walla’s St. Mary’s Hospital, and Colfax’s St. Ignatius, have had – and are having – their share of “modernizing” difficulties.

In neighboring Wallace, Idaho, the order’s hospital is closing after 75 years of service to the community. Cost of improvements required by the Idaho Board of Health is prohibitive and the Sisters do not feel they can assume the financial obligations of building a new hospital.

A spokesman for the Provincial Administration of the Order said that the Sisters have been asked to continue to administer and staff the proposed new Eastern Shoshone County District hospital and that financing will be put to the voters via a bond issue. Hill-Burton funds also will be used to finance the new 28-bed, $800,000 structure.

The Sisters came to the booming mining town in the rugged Coeur d’Alene Mountains in 1891 in answer to a plea for medical care by the Miners Union – just in time to witness the bloody and paralyzing war between union men and mine owners. The disastrous fire of 1910, which turned North Idaho into an inferno, completely destroyed the city of Wallace – except for the hospital and its reservoir on the hill.

When the Providence Sisters move operations into the new district hospital, it will be the first time since the order was founded in 1843 that they will be operating a hospital not their own.

A few years ago at Fort Benton, Mont., the order’s St. Clare Hospital was declared “inadequate” by Montana’s State Board of Health. The people were told that if they wanted a hospital, they would have to raise the money. They did – and built the new hospital on order-owned ground, leaving title to the institution with the Sisters.

“Both we and they consider St. Clare’s a community hospital,” the order’s representative said.

A third hospital administered by the order – St. Ignatius of Colfax – is having its “modernization” difficulties. The Washington State Department of Health and the fire marshal have condemned the existing structure, and St. Ignatius obtained its temporary license to operate “only on condition that a new hospital would be built.”

St. Ignatius’s problem has been turned over to the community it serves. In order to qualify for Hill-Burton funds, money for the new structure – $600,000 – has to be on hand this spring. Citizens of the area have pledged slightly more than $400,000 of the total sum. Unless the entire amount is pledged, Colfax will be without hospital facilities. The 53-bed hospital serves not only Colfax, but the surrounding communities of St. John, Endicott, Garfield and Rosalia.

St. Ignatius was deemed “inadequate” two years ago. As in Wallace, St. Ignatius has limped along with temporary licenses until community support of a new institution could be gained.

Adequate funds for a new hospital are only part of the Colfax problem. If the Sisters agree to administer the new community-sponsored and financed hospital they want assurance from members of the advisory board that help will be forthcoming in recruiting sufficient personnel. There has been a crippling shortage in all hospital work areas at Colfax – nurses’ aides and such general employee categories as maintenance, kitchen help, etc.


From the Inland Register – Volume 47, No. 10
Twenty-five Years Ago: January 18, 1990

‘With Grateful Hearts’ campaign announced by Foundation

The Catholic Foundation of the Spokane Diocese has announced the formation of the “With Grateful Hearts” campaign to raise additional endowment for the Diocesan Priests’ Retirement Benefit Program.

Bishop Lawrence Welsh had requested that the Foundation’s Board of Trustees primary focus for the next three-to-five years would be to assume responsibility for raising the additional endowment for the Priests’ Retirement Benefit Program, said Robert K. Powers, chairman of the Board of Trustees.

The announcement was made by Powers, along with Bishop William S. Skylstad, apostolic administrator of the diocese, and Paul Russell, chairman of the ad hoc committee to select and enlist campaign leadership.

Bishop Skylstad explained that the Diocese of Spokane currently holds $1.4 million in endowment for the Priests’ Retirement Benefit Program, which will be transferred to the Foundation as the initial contribution to the program.

According to the independent actuarial study which was completed in October of last year, an additional $3.02 million must be raised over the next five years to fund the program fully.

In the Spokane Diocese, normal retirement for priests is available at age 70. By the time some priests have reached that age, they may have actively served the Church for 40 years or more.

Bishop Skylstad added that currently the Priests’ Retirement Benefit Program costs the diocese $350,000 annually. It is the single largest line item in the diocese’s $2 million annual budget, representing 15 percent of all budget expenditures.

Powers emphasized that the raising of additional endowment will not only ensure adequate funding for a just and dignified program for diocesan priests, but will also release for other purposes some if not all of the funds the diocese is currently spending on this program.

Paul Russell pointed out that the Foundation conducted a feasibility study during June and July 1989 to determine the fundraising potential of the diocese in order to raise the additional required endowment.

According to Russell, the study “recommended that the Foundation is capable of raising at least $1.7 million, using a three to five year pledge period.” That figure could be higher, Russell said, “depending on the quality of leadership enlisted and the level of leadership gifts obtained.” Russell anticipates that “the campaign goal will be established by Jan. 15, 1990.”

Powers described the “With Grateful Hearts” campaign as being carried out in two organizational phases:

• During Phase 1, more than 80 Catholic leaders will be selected, enlisted, trained and supervised as members of campaign committees. More than 400 individuals will be offered the opportunity to participate financially in the program through specially planned and programmed visitations made by members of soliciting committees.
• In Phase II, all other members of the diocese who were not called upon during Phase I will be given the opportunity to participate financially through an alternate method. The final decision as to the method to be used will be made by a specially organized steering committee.

Bishop Skylstad explained that the “With Grateful Hearts” campaign is an opportunity for those contacted to continue their expression of the principles of Christian stewardship, the realistic appreciation that everything we have is a gift from God, including our abilities, talents, health, family and wealth.

The principles of Christian stewardship express “themselves as an integral force in our lives by motivating us to share our God-given gifts with others, and to set meaningful priorities in our lives.

“In gratitude for God’s generosity, we pray that all members of the diocese, when called upon, will dedicate a generous portion of their gifts of time, talent and treasure to furthering God’s kingdom,” Bishop Skylstad said.

According to Powers, the “With Grateful Hearts” campaign is the first organized effort by the Catholic Foundation to raise substantial funds.

The Foundation is a separate, non-profit corporation, governed by a Board of Trustees. The Board is presently made up of 17 volunteer members, both Religious and lay persons, from Eastern Washington, including Walla Walla, Clarkston, Colfax, Colton, Pasco, Colville and Spokane.

The Foundation was established in 1981. Its primary mission is to provide financial assistance to Catholic programs and services in the diocese.

Gifts received by the Foundation are invested. Only the yield from the investments is used to support Catholic programs and services in the diocese. The principal remains untouched, cannot be withdrawn, and lives in perpetuity.

The Foundation made its first financial distributions in 1983. Since then, more than $347,000 has been distributed to 36 Catholic organizations and programs within the diocese.

In addition, the capital growth from investments has amounted to over $550,000 in the past eight years.

Today the Foundation has a total fund balance of $3,256,976. Considering all investment and distribution activity, the Foundation has generated nearly $900,000 to support Catholic programs and services.

The Catholic Foundation is determined to continue its increasing growth and play a greater and more important role in funding the work of the Church in the Spokane Diocese.

“It is our hope that the success of the ‘With Grateful Hearts’ campaign will be the work of all of us who are committed to improving the future of our diocese,” Powers said.

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


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