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


Compiled by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the July 21, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register– Volume LV, Number 11
Fifty Years Ago: July 10, 1966

Spokane landmark bows to progress

Progress has removed another old Spokane landmark – the two-and-one-half-story brick structure, circa 1888, which was the city’s first parochial school. The little school on Main Street, bounded by Trent, Washington and Bernard, was thought to be Spokane’s oldest building.

It played host to 58 girls and 44 boys when the school bell first rang Sept. 3, 1888, and served more than 300 by term’s end in 1889.

And then came the great fire of August, 1889, with the little school – and the church beside it – directly in its path. As legend has it, a relic of St. Amable was thrown into the fire, which promptly reversed itself, leaving school and church unharmed.

By 1905, enrollment dropped and the gradual approach of business houses made it advisable to sell.

For some 15 years, what was once a Catholic school served as a hotel. Later, upstairs rooms were closed off and a cluster of stores sprang up to hide the lower reaches. But the old red roof was clearly visible above the store fronts....

Until Kelp Brothers Building and House Wrecking moved in to level the structures to make way for a parking lot.

A delicatessen and a second-hand store occupied the old church – first Catholic Church in Spokane – which pre-dated the school by some two or three years. The school was the project of the Jesuit Father James Rebmann, first president of Gonzaga University; the church, of Father Aloysius Jacquet, another pioneering Jesuit.

Jesuit Father Wilfred P. Schoenberg, Gonzaga archivist, was among those on hand to see the little school’s death throes and look for souvenirs. There wasn’t much – not even the hoped-for cornerstone.

But on the editorial desk at the Inland Catholic Register, courtesy of Father Schoenberg, are two nails from the vanished school – square-bodied, square-headed.

You just don’t see nails like that these days!


From the Inland Register – Volume 49, No. 1
Twenty-five Years Ago: July 4, 1991

Archbishop Hunthausen retires from Seattle see in August

SEATTLE (CNS) – Seattle Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen, recognized internationally as a peace activist and the object of a controversial Vatican-ordered investigation, has announced plans to retire on his 70th birthday in August.

Archbishop Hunthausen is retiring to allow his successor to chart the course of long-range archdiocesan programs, according to a June 18 statement from the Seattle Archdiocese. The mandatory age of retirement for bishops is 75.

Pope John Paul II has accepted the archbishop’s resignation, according to the statement.

“It’s my own decision made after long and prayerful deliberation,” Archbishop Hunthausen said in the statement. “No one was asking me to retire,” he said.

Archbishop Hunthausen, reportedly in good health, said he decided to retire early because it was time for a new leader with a new vision to head the local church.

He will be succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy of Seattle, 58, who was named to assist Archbishop Hunthausen in 1987.

Archbishop Hunthausen said he had no plans for how he would spend his retirement years. “I will continue to serve the archdiocese as the Lord sees fit,” he said.

He called Archbishop Murphy his “trusted co-worker and dearly loved brother” and said “boundless energy” and “love for the Lord” characterize his leadership.

Controversy has plagued the Seattle prelate since 1983, a month after he allowed Dignity, an organization of homosexual Catholics, to celebrate Mass at Seattle’s St. James Cathedral, when the Vatican sent Archbishop James A. Hickey of Washington to Seattle to investigate complaints about Archbishop Hunthausen’s leadership.

Two years later, the Vatican cited problem areas in Seattle, including failure to follow the sequence of First Confession before First Communion; unauthorized Catholic-Protestant Eucharistic sharing; use of general absolution; lack of clarity about church teaching on homosexual activity and contraceptive sterilization; selection and formation of seminarians; ongoing clergy formation; and undue leniency in treatment of resigned priests.

Archbishop Hunthausen responded that he was “firmly committed to dealing with each and every one” of the concerns expressed.

In 1986, however, the Vatican ordered the archbishop to turn over authority in several areas of his ministry to Auxiliary Bishop Donald W. Wuerl, now head of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

After priests of the Seattle Archdiocese and other supporters called for restoration of full authority to Archbishop Hunthausen, the Vatican named a commission of three U.S. bishops to review the Seattle situation.

On the commission’s recommendation, the archbishop’s faculties were restored in 1987, Bishop Wuerl was reassigned to Pittsburgh, and Bishop Murphy was named coadjutor archbishop of Seattle with the automatic right to succeed Archbishop Hunthausen.

In a 1988 statement to the Holy See, Archbishop Hunthausen said that the way the Vatican had intervened in archdiocesan life had led to “pain and severe tension.”

He warned that the same experiences could occur in other dioceses if the Vatican gave credibility to “mean-spirited criticism, from a small cadre of people … bent upon undoing the fabric of unity” in the church.

The Seattle archbishop is a relaxed, informal, fatherly figure known to his friends as “Dutch.”

National attention first focused on him in 1981 when, at a regional gathering of Lutheran church leaders in Seattle, he urged unilateral nuclear disarmament and “tax resistance” as a way to reverse U.S. arms spending.

The following year, Archbishop Hunthausen personally held back half the federal tax he owed, distributing it instead to charitable causes. He spoke out strongly against the building of a Navy base in Puget Sound, part of his archdiocese, for Trident submarines carrying nuclear missiles.

When he called the submarine base “the Auschwitz of Puget Sound,” Navy Secretary John Lehman called his remark a “deeply immoral” abuse of clerical power to promote pacifist views.

The archbishop continues to hold back taxes and has had his wages garnished by the Internal Revenue Service.

Church observers have said that as the U.S. bishops were writing their pastoral letter on nuclear deterrence in 1981-83, the pacifist actions of Archbishop Hunthausen and Bishop Leroy T. Matthiesen of Amarillo, Texas, were an important catalyst forming the hierarchy’s views on the issue.

Despite his strong views, the archbishop is noted for his efforts to consult thoroughly with pastors and lay leaders on virtually every decision, from building a new church or school to launching a major archdiocesan pastoral program such as Renew.

He has espoused stronger roles for laity in the church, the exercise of greater church leadership by married couples, and a greater role for women in the church. In 1990 he chose not to continue the archdiocese’s all-male diaconate training program until, he said, women’s role in the church is more adequately addressed.

Raymond G. Hunthausen was born in Anaconda, Mont., on Aug. 21, 1921. In 1946 he was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Helena, Mont.

Assigned after ordination to teach mathematics and chemistry at Carroll College in Helena, his alma mater, he also became head football coach and athletic director there. He was president of the college from 1957-62 when he was made bishop of Helena. In 1975, he was named archbishop of Seattle.

(Father Caswell is archivist for the Inland Register, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)


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