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 18, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)

Archdiocese of Portland

BEAVERTON – Norbertine Father Gregory Dick was going to follow in his father’s footsteps as a contractor, until he discerned a higher calling. The Franciscan Sisters at Our Lady of Peace Retreat here must be thankful he answered that call.

A priest at the Norbertine Abbey of St. Michael in Silverado, Calif., Father Dick was on hand to lead a silent men’s retreat the weekend of April 15-17. This was not the first retreat he has led at Our Lady of Peace, but this may have been the first time the retreat included manual labor.

A special project was planned for that Saturday, to repair a statue of St. Joseph on the grounds of the retreat house. The life-sized figure had been vandalized in the fall of 2015. At that time, a women’s retreat group discovered the vandalism while praying the rosary along the outdoor Stations of the Cross. They discovered that benches had been overturned, one of the Stations of the Cross had been desecrated, and the statue of St. Joseph had been knocked over and into the mud. The resulting impact resulted in the head being separated from the body.

When Father Dick arrived at the Retreat in April, the statue remained in the mud; the Sisters were waiting for the earth to dry enough for the heavy statue to be righted and repaired.

Early in the week, shortly after Father Dick’s arrival, he had done some preparatory work for the statue’s repair, drilling holes in the base for studs to be placed to increase the statue’s resilience once it was replaced on its pedestal. When the time came for the repairs, the white-clad priest and his retreatants got in the muck without hesitation.

“He jumped right into action, white cassock and all, and wasn’t afraid to get dirty even though the ground was a little muddy,” said Jeremy Wenger, one of the retreatants. After leading a prayer for the vandals who had knocked the statue down, Father Dick led the retreatants in hoisting the life-size statue back onto its base, and securing the head.

“For me,” said Wenger, “it was also a good exercise to remind us that sin does not have the final say, and that good will conquer evil.”

FOREST GROVE – One of the first lay people to administer a parish in the Archdiocese of Portland retired this spring after more than 25 years of service in the church.

Lani Vandehey, who concluded her ministry as a pastoral associate at St. Anthony Parish in Forest Grove, was pastoral administrator of St. Mary Parish in Vernonia for a decade. She led the Vernonia parish in every way except for officiating at sacraments.

Vandehey was one of six lay people given the duty of pastoral administrator during a period in the early 1990s. She went through training and formation led by Msgr. Chuck Lienert, who was then in charge of staffing parishes in western Oregon. A formal rite of installation was held in 1992.

“It was about small communities in a time with a dearth of priests,” Vandehey says. The community “was small and had all the qualities of a parish. The archdiocese paired up priests with laity to serve. We kept up the parishes business-wise and made sure religious education was active.”

Vandehey served as a pastoral counselor, helping or referring people with spiritual or emotional needs. She oversaw marriage preparation, educated those who wanted to become Catholic and took Communion to the homebound.

The model works well if the priest moderator – a clergyman assigned to supervise and offer sacramental ministry – worked closely with the pastoral administrator. Vandehey says the model fell short and had to be altered when it became clear that pastoral administrators should have advanced degrees in pastoral ministry.

More and more, missionary priests from other nations have come to serve in western Oregon, filling the gaps.

Whatever happens with leadership, the faithful of the parish always rise to the occasion, Vandehey says. “They know the life of their parish depends on them.”

Vandehey says service in the church has formed her as a person. “Very few people get to do what gives them life,” she says. “It’s just kept encouraging me to find the need in other people and serve that need.”

– Catholic Sentinel (Oregon Catholic Press)

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