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 Diocese priests mark jubilees of ordination

by Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register

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

Three priests of the Spokane Diocese celebrate significant jubilee anniversaries of ordination to priesthood.

Msgr. Robert Pearson, celebrating 50 years, was ordained to the priesthood May 29, 1965. Fathers Pat Kerst and Richard Root, celebrating 25 years, were ordained as priests on May 23, 1990.

Msgr. Pearson was born in Spokane. He was baptized at Sacred Heart, Spokane, where he also received First communion and was confirmed. He also attended Sacred Heart School before he entered Gonzaga Prep, where he graduated in 1957.

He attended the Pontifical College Josephinum, a seminary in Worthington, Ohio, for college and theology.

He was ordained to the priesthood in the chapel of the Josephinum by the Most Rev. Egidio Vagnozzi, then the apostolic delegate to the United States.

Msgr. Pearson has been deeply involved not only in parish ministry, but also in aspects of Catholic education.

He was first assigned as assistant pastor of St. Charles Parish, Spokane, and the next year was named diocesan supervisor of Marycliff High School. The next year he took on that role at DeSales High School, Walla Walla.

After serving as chaplain of the veterans’ hospital in Walla Walla, Msgr. Pearson was named the diocese’s Director of Religious Education, in 1972. He has also served as Vicar for Education and as Vicar for Priests.

In 1976 he was named pastor of Holy Ghost and St. Anthony Parish, Spokane, before moving to St. Mary Parish, in what is now Spokane Valley, in 1978.

In 1988 he was appointed pastor of St. Augustine Parish, Spokane. He was invested as a monsignor in 1997, became Director of Continuing Education for Priests in 2003, and retired at the end of June, 2004, when he once again returned to the role of Vicar for Priests.

In an Inland Register interview when he retired in 2004, Msgr. Pearson spoke of his gratitude “to God and then to the three bishops I’ve served with, and the opportunities they’ve given me to serve the people of Eastern Washington. There are a great number of things I have done under their direction.”

He said, “I feel a really genuine sense of happiness in the life I’ve led as a priest. I’ve never wanted to do anything else. Sometimes people will ask me if I’d do it again, and I say yes. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Father Pat Kerst presently serves as pastor of St. Mary Parish, Spokane Valley, and St. Joseph, Rockford.

He, too, was born and educated in Spokane, where he attended St. Mary School and Gonzaga Prep before entering Bishop White Seminary. He completed priestly formation at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.

His first assignment as a priest was to St. Patrick Parish, Pasco, where he was associate pastor before being assigned as parochial vicar of St. Patrick and St. Francis of Assisi parishes in Walla Walla.

In 1996 he became pastor of the parishes in Brewster and Twisp, before returning to Walla Walla as pastor of St. Patrick and St. Francis of Assisi in 2001. Assumption Parish, Walla Walla, was added to his responsibilities in 2011.

In 2010 he was appointed Director of Continuing Education for Priests, and in September of last year was named Vicar General for External Matters for the Spokane Diocese. That appointment ended weeks later with Bishop Cupich’s move to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

He recently served as the chairman of the diocese’s Know, Love and Serve pastoral planning committee.

Father Richard Root is a former rector of Bishop White Seminary and Vocations Director for the Spokane Diocese.

He came to Eastern Washington from Syracuse, N.Y., where he was born and educated. He graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo, N.Y., before entering Gonzaga University.

Father Root studied theology at St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., prior to his ordination as a priest of the Spokane Diocese.

He is now the pastor of Holy Family Parish, Clarkston – the site of his first assignment as a priest, as associate pastor, in 1990.

Next was the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, as parochial vicar, before becoming pastor of the parishes in Colton and Uniontown in 1992. That same year he was named Vocations Director for the diocese, and 1994 he received his assignment as rector of Bishop White Seminary.

He also served as Director of Deacon Formation for the class of deacons ordained in 1999.

Father Root returned to Holy Family, Clarkston, as pastor in 2010.

The priests will be honored during the presbyteral assembly later this year.

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