Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
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Mass celebrates 100 years of Franciscan Sisters’ ministry in Spokane Diocese
the Inland Register
(From the August 20, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)
From left: Sisters Patricia Gordon, Sharon Bongiorno, Betty Bradley and Kathy Roberg of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration with Bishop Thomas Daly. The FSPA community celebrated 100 years of presence in Spokane. (IR photo courtesy of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration)
A century of faithful presence illumined the beautiful night. It italicized a milestone Mass, exhilarated a congregation of about 300 guests, ignited a party that lasted long past dark. It was a celebration, held at St. Augustine Parish, Spokane, on July 24, marking the 100 years the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) have served in the Diocese of Spokane.
One hundred years of FSPA presence in Spokane were reflected in the evening’s liturgical light, in Philippians 1:3-7: “I thank my God for you every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the Gospel from the very first day until now,” read Sister Patricia Gordon, whose ministerial imprints on the diocese – as a teacher and principal at Marycliff High School for 19 years and spiritual assistant to the Secular Franciscan Fraternity for 12 years – are indelible.
One hundred years of FSPA Sisters in Spokane were also embodied throughout the service by the other Sisters who, like Sister Pat, continue to personify faithful presence there today.
Sister Sharon Bongiorno, who taught science and math at Marycliff and was parish administrator for 16 years at St. Francis Parish in Walla Walla, now serves the Spokane area as visitation coordinator at the Cathedral of Our Lady Lourdes, engages young women in vocation, and is widely known for her Franciscan faith. She served as Eucharistic minister at the celebration Mass.
Sister Kathy Roberg – a conduit of compassion for social justice who is an ESL teacher and waitress at the Women and Children’s Free Restaurant – read from Wisdom 7:26-30.
Sister Betty Bradley is herself an alumna of Marycliff who taught first grade at Our Lady of Fatima, served as director of Clare Center Spirituality Center, and imbues her Franciscan spirit as an art teacher. She, too, was a Eucharistic minister at the Mass at St. Augustine.
Sister Joanne McGoldrick, unable to attend, was the first director of Clare Center, served as a social worker and counselor, and now ministers to the residents where she lives.
Local FSPA affiliates Pam Small, Lola Burge, Bill Woods and Maurine Kalk contributed loving presence as well. Affiliate Mary Ann McDonald was also present, in prayer.
One hundred years of FSPA in Spokane were given homage in the homily by Bishop William S. Skylstad, Bishop Emeritus of the Spokane Diocese, who hearkened back to 1915 “when the Sisters came here, to the diocese, and began their ministry of education.” He went on to heed St. Paul and his words of thanks to God for his people, of praying for them with joy for the gifts of Gospel giving throughout all time. “Well, Franciscan Sisters, tonight we’re thinking of you. Our presence here expresses, I think, in a profound way – very good way, very vibrant way – that we’re thinking of you. So for that reality,” he said, “we express our thanks and our gratitude.”
One hundred years of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Spokane echoed through the notes of St. Francis’s Eternal Life, sung by the Cecilian Singers (under the direction of Joan Flaherty), all alumnae of Marycliff High School who were taught there by the women Religious who dared to go West from La Crosse, Wis., and made sound the ministry of teaching. They served students at St. Xavier, St. Augustine, St. Ann, St. Anthony, and Our Lady of Fatima in Spokane and at St. John Academy in Colfax as well.
“Lord,” they resounded in song, “Make me an instrument of Thy peace.”
Sister Karen Lueck, FSPA President, expressed the Sisters’ gratitude for their century of presence and ministry in Eastern Washington – gratitude for the many generations of students and parents and parishes and people from all walks of life the Sisters have been so fortunate to serve.
“We have learned through the years that we never do anything alone. We have learned to collaborate and form relationships with many others to carry out our mission. We count on you. We pray for you. Together, in God, let us continue to spread Jesus’ message of love and compassion,” said Sister Karen, “to the world.”
And 100 years of FSPA in Spokane, 100 years “of service to the church,” were praised by Bishop Thomas A. Daly, principal celebrant of the Mass, in his concluding remarks. At the heart of such an anniversary, he said, are images and memories of buildings and institutions, but most importantly “the people; people who leave us a legacy in our hearts and our minds and our God too.” He gave thanks for the celebration, lifted up “gratitude to God for the sisters who have said ‘yes’ to the Lord and continue prayers and Eucharist” in the Diocese of Spokane, in the West.
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