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

Spokane’s St. Thomas More Parish hosts benefit dinner/auction for Pullman’s St. Thomas More Catholic Student Center next month

Story and photo by Bonita Lawhead, for the Inland Register

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

From left: Amber Gale, a Washington State University senior from Wenatchee, and Christopher Appel, a sophomore from Colfax. Appel is one of the interns at St. Thomas More Catholic Student Center in Pullman. (IR photo)

The fourth annual Founder’s Day Dinner and Auction, put on by the students at the St. Thomas More Catholic Student Center in Pullman, will be held in a different location this time around.

The event, held the past three years in Pullman, will be hosted by St. Thomas More Parish in Spokane on Saturday, Feb. 21, beginning at 6:30 p.m. This different location will allow a greater opportunity for Spokane area WSU alums and supporters to attend the event.

The dinner was established four years ago to honor Father Jim Kuhns, the priest who in 1963 was given the charge to establish a separate parish for WSU’s Catholic students. A Newman Club had served WSU’s Catholic students since the 1900s, but Bishop Bernard Topel wanted an autonomous parish for them. Father Kuhns led fund-raising efforts to purchase the former Greystone Church in Pullman for the new student center, which was renamed St. Thomas More Newman Chapel. That facility was used until 1980 when a new chapel and fellowship hall was built just a half block from campus.

The original idea for the dinner came from Msgr. Kevin Codd, the student center’s pastor. Father Kuhns usually attends the dinner; he has a standing invitation.

Amber Gale, a WSU senior from Wenatchee, is the dinner’s organizer this year, assisted by Christopher Appel, a sophomore from Colfax who serves as an intern at the center. They said 260 invitations were to be sent out after Christmas.

Gale called moving the dinner’s location “an experiment…. We wanted to branch out and reach alums in the Spokane area.”

Too, the facility at St. Thomas More in Spokane is much larger and better suited to serving a large crowd of people, she said. “Plus we wanted to build support between the two parishes.”

While the money raised at the dinner goes into the Pullman Center’s general fund, a good portion of it is used for the Center’s intern program, designed to develop leadership and ministry in Catholic students. Four interns are selected each school year, and housing is provided for them. Msgr. Codd mentors them, and they become student staff involved with the many ministries at the center.

Gale and Appel explained the Catholic Student Center’s convenience, hospitality, and other benefits.

All students are welcome to use the pleasant and inviting lounge for studying or group meetings or games, or even just to relax. A computer is also available for student use.

“It’s like a refuge,” Appel said. “It’s so close to campus and has become like a home base for many of us.”

Also, he added, “you don’t have to worry about your stuff. You can just leave it if you need to use the restroom or whatever and it’ll still be there when you come back.” Students can bring food there, too, and not have to worry.

Meeting other Catholics is a definite plus. “WSU is a secular institution,” Gale said, “and we can find faith in our fellowship there.”

Both Gale and Appel greatly appreciate their pastor’s service to the student community. They praised Msgr. Codd’s friendliness and his easy availability. “Everyone has access to him,” Gale said. “He is always there to talk with us.”

Msgr. Codd provides plenty of spiritual opportunities for his mostly youthful congregation. The Center offers a full range of Catholic services: Masses in both English and Spanish, prayer services, retreats, fellowship, community service (sometimes in a foreign country), and even free food. Every Friday when school is in session, a dinner is held at the center after the 5:30 p.m. Mass. Everyone is invited and it is not required that hungry students attend Mass first. The dinner is open to all.

The Founder’s Day dinner is also open to all, but reservations are required by Feb. 6. A head count of guests is needed for grocery shopping.

The address for the St. Thomas More Church social hall in Spokane is 505 West St. Thomas More Way.

For more information or to make reservations, call St. Thomas More in Pullman: (509) 332-6311, or email

The St. Thomas More Student Center Founder’s Day Dinner and Auction is set for Saturday, Feb. 21. The evening starts at 6:30 p.m. with wine, hors d’oeuvres, and a silent auction. Dinner follows at 7:30 p.m., with dessert and a live auction included on the evening’s program. The menu includes a beef dish, scalloped potatoes, popovers, and Gorgonzola and pear salad; for dessert, panna cotta and sacripantina, an Italian cake. Amber Gale, the dinner’s organizer, said the beef is cooked in a special sauce, making it “really tender.” There are also gluten-free and vegetarian choices.

Shelley Powers, the chef at Bishop White Seminary in Spokane, and Father Jeff Core, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Pullman, are the chefs for the evening’s repast. Father Core was a professional chef before he became a priest.

Gale is also in charge of procuring auction items. Actually, she said, “it’s a shared project, with lots of people – parents, friends, businesses – donating auction items.” Since it’s early yet, her list of auction items was short. She had promises of some baskets: a huckleberry basket, an apple basket, and a pancake breakfast basket, and some WSU football game tickets. She did have one exciting big-ticket item: an autographed football from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

St. Thomas More Church is located at 505 W. St. Thomas More Way in north Spokane. To make reservations or get more information, call St. Thomas More Student Center in Pullman, 509-332-6311, or email

Inland Register Index | Home

© The Catholic Diocese of Spokane. All Rights Reserved