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From the Inland Register
Vol. XX, No. 29
50 Years Ago: February 23, 1962


Drive to build seminary; campaign to open Feb. 25

The Diocesan Development Fund drive for 1962 – to be announced in every parish Sunday, Feb. 25 – is designed to take care of the diocese’s most vital need – a new minor seminary.

The new seminary – Mater Cleri, or “Mother of the Clergy” – will open its doors in September, 1963.

To be located on a 120-acre tract near Colbert, the seminary will cost an estimated minimum of $750,000, including property and furnishings.

The 1962 DDF campaign goal is $600,000, and Bishop Topel has asked that every Catholic in the diocese “outdo previous generosity in pledging to this year’s fund drive.”

“The shortage of priests and facilities for their education and training has made it imperative that we build our own seminary,” Bishop Topel said.

Present seminarians in the first three years of high school number 70, crowded but adequately provided for, in Bishop White Seminary at E. 429 Sharp – a private residence converted into a seminary in 1956 to accommodate that year’s crop of 17 freshmen students. This past year, a recreation room was converted into a classroom to accommodate seminarians in the junior year. Next year, the bishop said, this facility will very likely be overcrowded.

Prior to 1961, junior seminarians and beyond were sent to out-of-diocese seminaries. Crowded conditions at these facilities have closed the doors to any more Spokane-area seminarians.

“Since our seminarians must be educated, the time has come when we must do the job ourselves,” the bishop said.

He added that the acute shortage of priests in this diocese can be solved in no other way. Some large city parishes with a work load for a pastor and assistant are now being served by one badly “over-worked” pastor. Five parishes have been temporarily without resident priests during this year alone. Also, the need for priest teachers is fast increasing in the diocese.

In addition to the acute shortage of priests here, “we have a spiritual obligation to the even more priest-short Catholics of Latin America,” Bishop Topel said. Four diocesan priests are now serving the Guatemala Mission; more are needed.

Most hopeful factor, he said, in the whole priestly manpower problem, is “the great increase in vocations during recent years.” Since vocations cannot be nurtured in public high schools or even adequately in Catholic high schools, future priests must be provided with education and training at the new Mater Cleri.

The new seminary will have accommodations for 125 young men and will be academically accredited from the third year of high school through the second year of college. Designed by Spokane architects Funk, Murray, and Johnston, it will include a chapel, four classrooms, laboratory, library and study hall. Of four dormitories planned, two will be built immediately. College students will have private rooms.

The seminary also will include a gymnasium-auditorium, refectory, kitchen, six faculty suites, administration offices, and faculty lounge.

The present Bishop White Seminary at E. 429 Sharp will continue in use for freshmen and sophomore seminarians.

It is emphasized that the 1962 Diocesan Development Fund Drive will take care of all such once-regular special collections as those for Catholic University and the Indian and Negro missions. The one exception is the Christmas Charities collection.

Deanery chairmen and parish campaign chairmen and workers have been organized. Personal calls will be made on every Catholic in the diocese.

The name of the new seminary is pronounced “Mah’-tehr Cleh’ree."




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