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

Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration to host centennial celebration in Spokane

the Inland Register

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

Young women are seen as they begin to explore life in the FSPA community (aspirancy) in the 1950s: from left are Mary Lou Rickenbach, Sister Elaine (Marguerite) Weller, Margaret Thompson, Patricia Peterson, and Sister Marie Leon LaCroix. (IR photo courtesy of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration)

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) first came to the Spokane area in 1915 to staff St. Francis Xavier and St. Augustine schools, as well as St. John Academy in Colfax. Marycliff High School, founded in 1929, was not only staffed by several FSPA through the years, but boasts several Sister alumnae. Among them is current Spokane resident Sister Betty Bradley who became a student at Marycliff in 1954 as a 15-year-old freshman and FSPA aspirant. Marycliff closed in 1979.

A few highlights from the Sisters’ history in Spokane:

Fourteen students from St. Francis Xavier School made vows with FSPA, including Sister Bridget Durkin, who entered St. Rose Convent in 1915.

The Sisters have engaged in ministries in addition to their significant presence in Catholic education. One of the more notable of their new ministries began in July 1968, when Sister Riccarda Moseley founded a halfway house in Spokane, Regina Hall, for young women who had been in prison. The facility was the first of its kind in Washington State. Sister Moseley went on to found two other Regina Halls in Nevada. Her efforts were recognized nationally.

One property owned by FSPA in Spokane included Mary of the Angels, a farmhouse at the edge of Spokane, purchased in 1959. The house became a “house of formation” and the land leased to area farmers. The congregation sold Mary of the Angels in 2010. Today, the Sisters reside in a house known as San Damiano, located near Gonzaga University.

Another, lesser-known ministry: Sisters served as babysitters for Bing Crosby’s children. In 1968, Gonzaga University dedicated its Crosby Library, honoring Bing Crosby, a devout Catholic who grew up in Spokane. The request for a babysitter for the Crosby children came to Sister Georgia Christensen, then principal at Our Lady of Fatima School. Sources cite Mr. Crosby making the request because the “most responsible, caring people I can think of are the Sisters.”

The Sisters also spoke to a wide range of issues facing society. In 1977, Sisters Barbara Freed, Marguerite Weller and Nina Shephard were among 150 marchers in Spokane protesting government funding of the B-1 bomber program. The purpose was not only to protest the funding, but to remind President Jimmy Carter of the opposition he expressed to the project during his campaign. The Sisters have continued their strong commitment to peace.

After 100 years, the Spokane area continues to play a role in FSPA ministries. Sisters Betty Bradley (artist and watercolor teacher online at, Sharon Bongiorno (pastoral minister at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes), Joanne McGoldrick (social services volunteer visitor), Patricia Gordon (spiritual assistant to the Secular Franciscan Order) and Kathy Roberg (volunteer) all call Spokane home. They are joined in ministry by FSPA affiliates who live in the area.

After 100 years the Sisters still consider there to be a “freshness” about the West. And they all agree that there is something special about living as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration there. Said Sister Kathy Roberg, “The weather is always fresh. The ideas are fresh. And the people are full of adventure.”

(To share a story or memory of the Sisters in Spokane, email

Celebrate the story

In recognition of 100 years of presence in the Spokane area, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration invite the public to join them at a celebratory Mass and reception July 24 at 7 p.m. at St. Augustine Parish, 428 West 19th Ave., Spokane.

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