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

Regional Report

the Inland Register

(From the August 20, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

Archdiocese of Portland

PORTLAND – Just more than a century ago, horrified worshipers from St. Francis Parish looked skyward to see a boy dangling from the gilded steeple cross, 200 feet above Southeast Portland paving stones.

During late afternoon on March 7, 1915, 17-year-old George Hagan, 17-year-old Ed Kasper, 18-year-old John Flynn and 15-year-old James Flynn made their way up the inside of one of the twin gothic towers at Southeast 12th and Pine, later telling police they “just wanted to see what things looked like” from the lofty perch.

It was either Hagan or Kasper who was the most daring. One of them – neither would admit it to police – climbed out a steeple window and clung to the cross, one of the highest points in the burgeoning city. The church had been built in 1910.

Father James Black, the pastor, phoned the police. A patrol car responded and an officer named Long climbed the steeple “with many grunts of disgust,” reported The Oregonian, a daily Portland newspaper.

Since police could not determine which boy had come out of the window, no charges were filed, though juvenile court officials gave the three older boys a scare.

Young James was set free to the Flynn home on Southeast 12th Street where his Irish immigrant parents likely dealt with him and his brother, who were students at Columbia Prep, the high school run by the Holy Cross priests and brothers on the bluff in North Portland.

Not tarred by the 1915 hijinks, James Flynn went on to attend Oregon State and marry a well-known local girl from the Parrett family. He would sell eggs, cars and real estate to support his family. The couple had a hand in opening Central Catholic High School in 1939.

James Flynn died in 1980, having once been Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus in Oregon. His brother John, another steeple climber, died earlier.

Jim Flynn, Jr. also lives in Portland and attends All Saints Parish. Another of the elder Flynn’s sons — John — lives in Arizona most of the year, but part time in Bend.

As for the landmark twin steeples of St. Francis Church, a wind storm on Jan. 5, 1931 weakened the structures so much that the pastor ordered that the steeples be lowered by more than 100 feet. Contractors finished the emergency job in less than two weeks.

On Jan. 7, 1931, The Oregonian seemed to rue the situation: “This means that no longer will the gold crosses shine across the city in the reflected rays of sunlight, nor at night as they have on special occasions when electricity was poured into the incandescent bulbs that outline them.” The entire church would be razed by 1938.

PORTLAND – Holy Cross Brother William Dygert has been appointed new superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Portland. He comes to the Archdiocese of Portland with 23 years of experience as a Catholic school superintendent, serving most recently in the Diocese of Paterson, N.J. Prior to his ministry in Paterson, Brother William served as superintendent in the dioceses of Peoria, Providence, Tyler, and Beaumont. He also has served as a high school assistant principal and principal as well as a middle school president. In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree and three master’s degrees, he received a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Dayton in 1998.

Brother William taught English at both the high school and college levels. For nine summers, he has taught a graduate course in a Catholic education leadership program at the University of Notre Dame. He has served on boards and committees, in connection with both his religious congregation as well as with Catholic schools, including a consulting role with the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Education, from 2005-2008. He has presented and published on school-related topics, including governance, strategic planning and standards. Most recently, he was recognized by the University Council of Educational Administration for Excellence in Educational Leadership.

– Catholic Sentinel (Archdiocese of Portland)

Inland Register Index | Home

© The Catholic Diocese of Spokane. All Rights Reserved