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

Clarkston’s Holy Family Parish celebrates its centennial

the Inland Register

(From the June 18, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

Holy Family Church and some of the parish children are pictured in this 1903 photo. (IR photo courtesy of Holy Family Parish, Clarkston)

The first Catholic church was established in Clarkston, Wash., 30 years after St. Stanislaus Church was built in Lewiston, Idaho. There were numerous Catholics who had settled on the Clarkston side of the Snake River and were asking for a church of their own. At this point, Clarkston Catholics had been traveling to Lewiston on Sunday for Mass, or a Jesuit priest would come from Lewiston to offer Mass in homes in Clarkston.

In 1901, Father Post purchased two lots at Chestnut and 11th street. At this location a two-story brick veneer structure was built to serve as a church and school. The school classrooms were located on the ground floor and the church on the second. The Catholics of Clarkston pitched in to help build the building with a cost of $2,800.

In 1903, the Clarkston church was completed and Lewiston Jesuits began coming every Sunday to offer Mass. It was at this time that the Clarkston Catholics felt more as though they belonged to a parish.

As more Catholics moved into Clarkston or were born here, the original church building became too small. In 1913, Father Vincent Chiappa of Lewiston drew plans for a more adequate building. In March of 1915 it was reported that a new frame church at 11th and Chestnut in Clarkston was almost completed, at a cost of $5,000, with a seating capacity of 500.

Before the second Clarkston Catholic church was completed, the Diocese of Spokane was formed on Dec. 17, 1913. Bishop Augustin F. Schinner was appointed on March 18, 1914 as the first Bishop of the Spokane Diocese. Up until this point the Clarkston parish was considered a mission attended by Jesuit priests from St. Stanislaus. After the second church was completed, Bishop Schinner established a full-fledged parish for Clarkston and sent Father F.X. Stemper to be the first resident priest of Holy Family Parish.

The second church built served the Clarkston Catholics until in 1958, when a campaign began to raise $150,000 for a new church. On July 1, 1962, Bishop Bernard Topel and Father Albert F. Austen broke ground. On May 5, 1963, the cornerstone was laid and on Oct. 20, 1963, the first Mass was offered in the new church by Father Austen.

This third church is the current Holy Family Church. It has a seating capacity of 600. While few notes are available on the furnishings, we do know that the pews are of white oak with walnut standards, and the Stations of the Cross are of linden wood, carved in Bavaria. The Corpus on the crucifix is also of linden wood and was purchased from Italy and installed by Joe Dufour, Joe Tuschhoff, Joe Wolf, Joe Miltenberger, and Joe Schmidt.

The altar was consecrated by delegation of Bishop Topel on Jan. 5, 1965, by Father Austen. Father Austen gave the altar the name of The Holy Name of Jesus and placed the relics of two martyrs, Sts. Venustus and Dignus, in the altar stone. At the time of its installation the altar was longer by about a third of its present length.

The stained glass windows of Holy Family were installed under the direction of Alois Moser of Santa Monica, Calif., who was the West Coast representative of the French studios of Gabriel Loire. The glass is about an inch thick, which gives the glass added intensity and brilliance. The different pieces are held together by an interweaving framework of concrete that gives the windows great strength and impermeability to weather and an attractive exterior lacelike quality.

On March 17, 2013, Holy Family Parish broke ground again. This time ground was broken adjacent to the church in order to build a larger parish hall. It hosts the parish’s annual bazaar, Knights of Columbus Sausage Dinner, funeral dinners, and celebrations. The hall also has a gathering space for coffee and donuts after each Mass. Father Richard Root, Holy Family’s pastor since 2010, blessed and dedicated the new hall on March 2, 2014. Bishop Blase Cupich blessed the hall on May 24, 2014.

(This article was adapted from “Early Days of Holy Family Parish,” by Father Terence Tully, first editor of the Inland Register.)

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