Washington, Catholic Church in
WASHINGTON, CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
Bounded by British Columbia, including Vancouver Island, on the north, the Pacific Ocean on the west, Oregon on the south, and Idaho on the east, the "Evergreen State" was admitted to the Union on Nov. 11, 1889, as the 42nd state. Originally part of the Oregon Territory, Washington Territory was separated from it in March 1853, and reduced to its current boundaries with the formation of the Idaho Territory in 1863. At the beginning of the third millennium, the majority of Washington's 5,894,121 people are of Euro-American descent. Other ethnic populations include Hispanics/Latino, 441,509 (7.5%), Asians, 322,335 (5.5%), Blacks/African Americans, 190,267 (3.2%), Native Americans and Alaska Natives, 93,301, (1.6%), and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, 23,953 (0.4%). The bulk of the population
resides on Puget Sound from Everett to Olympia. To the east the population centers are Spokane, Yakima, and the Tri-cities area of Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick.
Washington is among the least churched and most religiously diverse states in the United States. Roughly 30 percent of the state's population is churched. Between 10 and 17 percent are adamantly disinterested in religion in any form. Approximately 15 percent attend church on any given weekend. Catholics make up about 12 percent of the state's population, followed by Lutherans (3.6%), Latter-Day Saints (3.1%), United Methodists (1.8%) and Assemblies of God (1.7%). The Catholic Church is the largest religious body in a state where all social institutions are relatively weak. Geographic space, high population mobility, the absence of large, stable ethnic communities, fluid class lines, and limited personnel and financial resources have created a context where committed Catholics from all parts of the Americas, Asia, and Europe, have worked to build and sustain their church. There are three dioceses; in addition to the Archdiocese of Seattle (diocese, 1907; archdiocese, 1951), the metropolitan see, there are its suffragan sees of Spokane (1914) and Yakima (1951).
Catholic Presence . On July 14, 1775, a Franciscan priest with the Spanish Heceta and Bodega y Cuandra expedition erected a cross at today's Point Grenville. Permanent Catholic presence began with the French-Canadian Metis (persons of mixed French-Canadian and Native American descent), and Native Americans involved in the fur trade in the Oregon Country. Even before trappers turned farmers petitioned Bishop Joseph Signay of Quebec for priests in 1834, they had secured a separate Catholic cemetery at the Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Vancouver. In November, 1838, two French-Canadian priests, Francis Norbert blanchet (1795–1883 [1843–1880]) and Modeste Demers (1809–1871) arrived. They immediately began pastoral work among the French and Metis and engaged in evangelistic work among Native Americans, using the Catholic Ladder, a pictorial representation of salvation history. They appointed Native Americans and other lay catechists to lead emerging Catholic communities in prayer and provide basic instruction. By 1842, Fr. John Baptiste Bolduc (1818–1889) had arrived and Jesuits from St. Louis, most notably Pierre de smet S.J. (1801–1873), were active in the eastern portion of the region.
The region changed rapidly between 1840 and 1880. In 1843, Pope Gregory XVI erected an apostolic vicariate that included the area from the Pacific to the Rockies and Russian Alaska to California. In 1846, less than six weeks after the U.S. took control of the land below the 49th parallel as a result of the Oregon Treaty, the apostolic vicariate was elevated to the Ecclesiastical Province of Oregon City, the second in the United States. Blanchet was appointed to the metropolitan see, Modeste Demers to the diocese of Vancouver Island, and the archbishop's brother, Augustin Magliore Blanchet (1797–1887 [1846–1879]), to the diocese of Walla Walla, the first diocese in what was to become the state of Washington. The entire province had 6,000 Catholics, over 5,000 of whom were Native Americans. One of the 5,000 was Chief Seattle (1786–1866) of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes of Puget Sound, after whom the city of Seattle was named.
Bishop Augustin Magliore Blanchet traveled to Walla Walla over the Oregon Trail in 1847, accompanied by his vicar general, John Baptist Abraham Brouillet (1813–1884), and members of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Brouillet, a tireless advocate for Native Americans, became the first director of the Catholic Bureau of Indian Affairs in the 1880s. Fathers Eugene Casimir Chi-rouse, O.M.I. (1821–1892) and Charles Pandosy, O.M.I. (1824–1891), the first priests ordained in Washington, spent most of their active ministries among Native Americans in the state.
Blanchet arrived at Fort Walla Walla, in September 1847. In November the Whitman Massacre occurred, sparking the Cayuse War, exacerbating tensions between Catholic and Protestant missionaries, and forcing closure of the Walla Walla mission. The California Gold Rush emptied much of the Euro-American population from the region. In 1850 Blanchet was transferred from Walla Walla to the newly erected Diocese of Nesqually, with Vancouver as the see city. In 1853, Walla Walla was suppressed and the Washington territory came under the jurisdiction of Nesqually.
Blanchet depended on the Societies for the Propagation of the Faith in Lyons and Paris and the Leopoldine Society in Vienna for financial support, and on Montreal for personnel. In 1856 Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart (1823–1902), who would come to be known as the Pacific Northwest's first architect, and four other Sisters of Providence began work in health care and education. By 1864, 31 Providence Sisters, five Jesuits, two Oblate missionaries, and seven diocesan priests served in the diocese. Though Irish and German Catholic populations grew steadily, the Church in Washington retained a French Canadian, Metis, and Native American orientation into the 1880s.
Institutional Growth . The construction of the transcontinental railroad to Washington brought Irish and Chinese laborers to the state. Once completed in 1883, the state became a destination point for immigrants. Between 1880 and 1895, the Euro-American population of the diocese increased from 75,000 to nearly 400,000, the Catholic population from 12,000 to 30,000. Churches and public chapels increased from 22 to 46, diocesan clergy from 15 to 37, and religious priests, including Jesuits, Benedictines, and Redemptorists, to 20. Women religious increased from 60 to 286. Sisters of Providence and Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary from Montreal predominated, but many other communities would serve in the state over the next 150 years, among them Benedictines, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, and Sisters of St. Dominic.
Bishop Augustin Blanchet resigned in 1879. His successor, Aegidius Junger (1879–1895), a Belgian who had served the diocese since ordination in 1864, like Blanchet was a missionary bishop oriented toward and dependent on Quebec and Europe. The third, Edward J. O'Dea (1896–1932), the first westerner raised to the episcopacy, transformed Nesqually from an immigrant, frontier missionary diocese, into a diocese of the U.S. Catholic Church, the Diocese of Seattle. During his long tenure, the state's population quadrupled from nearly 400,000 to 1,600,000. He led the diocese through the turmoil that ensued after the Panic of 1893, the economic disruption of the 1898 Alaska gold rush, massive immigration, World War I, anti-Catholic agitation in the 1920s, and the beginnings of the Great Depression. O'Dea moved his see from Vancouver to Seattle in 1903, began construction of a cathedral in 1905, and at the dedication of the cathedral in 1907 announced the change of the name of the diocese from Nesqually to Seattle.
Increases in population generated a need for more educational and health-care institutions. In 1891, the Jesuits began Seattle College, which became one of the first co-educational colleges in the United States. German Benedictines established St. Martin's College in Lacey in 1895. Between 1903 and 1915, Mother (later Saint) Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850–1917) and the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart came to Puget Sound to minister to Italian immigrants with an orphanage, school and hospital. An official diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Northwest Progress, appeared in 1911.
Lay organizations aimed at spiritual growth, support of the church, mutual support, and social activities, burgeoned between 1880 and 1932, including expanded altar societies, the Young Men's Institute (1890s), the knights of columbus (1902), the Young Ladies' Institute (1905), the Holy Name Society (1909) and Catholic Daughters of America (1910). In the 1920s the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women supported the Newman Club at the University of Washington. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul officially organized in January 1920, successor to the Immaculate Conception Association of Charity, active in Seattle since 1893. The National Council of Catholic Men provided monetary support for the Catholic Filipino Club in Seattle.
The Knights of Columbus began the Laymen's retreat in 1918. A women's retreat movement followed in the 1920s. By 1930, the Holy Angels Society, Boys Sanctuary, Children of St. Mary, Sodality of Mary, and League of the Sacred Heart were present in Washington. Annual parish missions were a regular feature. In 1934 Catholic businessmen founded the Serra Club to provide spiritual and financial assistance for priestly vocations.
Even as Catholics participated in the progressive agenda of the 1920s through work in social welfare, including the Catholic Social Betterment League, they faced increasing nativist hostility during the post World War I years. It reached a peak in 1924 when the Ku Klux Klan supported initiative No. 49, designed to eliminate private schools. The initiative was defeated, in large part because prominent Catholic laymen like William Pigott (1860–1929), helped organize a religiously ecumenical, civic, and business-oriented opposition.
Maryknoll priests and sisters arrived in the state in 1920 to work among the growing Asian population on Puget Sound, especially Japanese and Filipinos. The mission grew out of a proposal in 1916 by a nucleus of Seattle Japanese Catholics, two of whom, Mr. Akashi and Mr. Hirata, traced their Catholicism back to the Nagasaki Martyrs. Sisters Teresa and Gemma opened a kindergarten for Japanese children. By 1925, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish was a thriving Japanese-Filipino national parish that carried on a vibrant, intercultural ministry until the internment of the Japanese in 1942. Maryknoll Father Leopold H. Tibesar, pastor from 1935, accompanied parishioners to the camps.
Late in 1913, on O'Dea's recommendation, Rome created a new diocese. The diocese of Spokane comprised of half the territory of the state, and Augustine Schinner was appointed the first bishop (1914–1925). He was succeeded by Charles D. White (1926–1954), who was followed by Bernard J. Topel (1955–1978), and Lawrence Welsh (1978–1990). Catholicism in Spokane was rooted in the efforts of Jesuits, including de Smet, Joseph Joset (1810–1910), and Joseph Cataldo (1837–1928), and diocesan priests Toussaint Mesplie (1824–1895), Emile Kauten (d. 1912), and Peter Poaps (d. 1890). The Sisters of Providence and Sisters of the Holy Names early had established educational and health care ministries to Native Americans and Euro-Americans there. Jesuits worked with Native Americans; in 1887 they established Gonzaga College in Spokane. The Sisters of the Holy Names opened a college, later Fort Wright College, in 1907, that operated until 1981. Bishop White Seminary was built in 1956.
The Seattle Province . After Pearl Harbor was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941, Seattle's Bishop Gerald shaughnessy, S.M. (1933–1950), spoke out publicly against hatred of Japanese and Japanese Americans, the first western bishop to do so. Washington's dioceses cooperated in the war effort through establishing clubs for soldiers and war workers, curtailing building projects, and adjusting liturgies to comply with dimout regulations.
The war brought tens of thousands of soldiers, workers, and their families into the state. Among them were large numbers of African Americans taking advantage of access to industrial and clerical jobs that the labor shortage provided. Some were from families with centurieslong histories as Catholics. After the war, the Knights St. Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary became the major African American Catholic parish organization in the state. Bishop Thomas J. Connolly (1950–1975) of Seattle established the St. Peter Claver Interracial Center to provide social services to the city's growing African American community. He also worked actively for open housing during the 1960s. Black lay Catholics such as Clayton Pitrie and Walter Hubbard, became leaders in the state and nationally with the National Black Catholic Lay Caucus. In the 1970s, the first two African American priests in the state were ordained, Fathers Joseph McGowan, S.J. and John Cornelius.
Washington's Hispanic/Latino began growing rapidly beginning in the 1930s, with people who lost their farms in Colorado during the Great Depression seeking work. The influx of population caused by the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam, the Columbia Basin irrigation project, and the war effort transformed all of eastern Washington, especially the Yakima Valley and Tri-cities. In response, Bishop Connolly proposed another diocese. Yakima was erected in June 1951, for an area with a Catholic presence dating back to the 1850s and ministry by the Jesuits, Oblates, Sisters of Providence and Sisters of St. Dominic. The new bishop, Joseph P. Dougherty (1951–1969), quickly began building churches, schools, social services, and an extensive ministry to Spanish-speaking Catholics. Continued growth through the rest of the century made Hispanics a major presence throughout the state. By the beginning of the 21st century, one-half of the Catholic population of the diocese of Yakima was Hispanic/Latino. Bishop Dougherty attended to the Yakima Indian Reservation mission, one of the oldest in the state, and elevated it to the status of parish with a resident pastor in 1958. In 1981, Heritage College, successor to the Holy Names Sisters' Fort Wright College, opened. Cornelius M. Power (1969–1974) succeeded Dougherty, to be followed by Nicholas E. Walsh (1974–1976) and William S. Skylstad (1977–1988).
Seattle became an archdiocese in 1951 amidst the post-war boom. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, present in the state since the 1930s, expanded to serve Catholic students in public schools. Adults joined Catholic Action and discussion clubs. Seattle became the third diocese in the nation to have a Knights of Columbus Religious Information Bureau, which operated under the guidance of William Treacy (b. 1919), a diocesan priest who came to Seattle from Ireland in 1945. The archdiocese opened St. Thomas Seminary, which was staffed by the Sulpicians and operated until 1977. The Catholic Youth Organization facilitated athletics, camping, and other programs for adolescents. Catholic Charities broadened its focus to include housing and a range of social services for the poor, the elderly, and ethnic minorities. Refugee programs were initiated for Hungarians and Koreans in the 1950s, Southeast Asians in the 1960s, and Central Americans in the 1980s.
Vatican II into the 21st Century . In 1962 the Catholic Church in Washington was institutionally stable and successful. That year the Archdiocese of Seattle hosted the 47th annual Liturgical Conference, its contribution to the Seattle World's Fair. Among the liturgical leaders in attendance was Msgr. H. A. Reinhold (1897–1968), who had been incardinated in the Archdiocese of Seattle and later served as curate and pastor (1944–1956) in Sunnyside in the diocese of Yakima.
In the wake of Vatican Council II, the archdiocese participated in an ecumenical discussion program on KOMO television, Challenge. For over a decade its weekly 300,000 viewers saw Fr. William Treacy in conversation with Rabbi Raphael Levine (1901–1985) and a Protestant minister.
Seattle University and the archdiocese initiated new education and training for catechists and lay leaders. Across the state parish councils were formed, liturgical renewal initiated, social justice ministries expanded, and pastoral ministries oriented toward diverse ethnic populations. New lay organizations formed, focused around professional, liturgical, educational, and justice issues. Seattle's Fr. James Dunning (1937–1995) gained national prominence as head of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate.
In 1970 the Washington State Catholic Conference was established in order to provide a more effective public voice for the Catholic Church in the state with regard to public policy issues. When Archbishop Connolly retired in 1975 (d. April 18, 1991), he was succeeded by the bishop of Helena, Mont., Raymond G. Hunthausen. Having attended all the sessions of Vatican II, he set about instilling in the archdiocese a vision of service and participation on the part of the laity. He vigorously promoted ecumenical collaboration but alienated goodly numbers in the government and the local church because of his stance opposing nuclear weapons. Hunthausen retired in 1991, and the Most Reverend Thomas J. Murphy, who since 1987 had been coadjutor archbishop, succeeded him. Archbishop Murphy's episcopacy (1991–1997), was cut short by leukemia, and Alex J. Brunett became archbishop of Seattle in 1997. The Archdiocese of Seattle transformed Catholic Charities into Catholic Community Services of Western Washington in 1988 in order to provide better social services to the poor and elderly.
In the 1990s change continued to characterize the church in Washington, beginning with its leadership. Bishop Welsh of Spokane was succeeded by William S. Skylstad (1990–); Skylstad's replacement in Yakima was Francis E. George, O.M.I. (1990–1996), succeeded by Carlos A. Sevilla, S.J. (1997–). The number of lay church professionals increased across the state as priests and vowed religious declined as a proportion of the Catholic population. Seattle University and the archdiocese cooperatively established the Institute for Theological Studies to train pastoral ministers for the church in western Washington. Gonzaga University expanded its pastoral education offerings for the eastern part of the state. Women's religious communities initiated new spirituality and social justice ministries. The Church continued to welcome immigrants, engage in pastoral care, and struggle with issues of justice in a state economically influenced by globalization, species extinction, and other forces. Entering the 21st century, the state's episcopacy cooperated with archbishops and bishops in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia, on a joint pastoral letter, "The Columbia River Watershed: Caring for Creation and the Common Good." This letter has inspired bishops in other parts of North America to look at care of the environment as a major pastoral issue.
As a new century began, thousands of lay professionals and volunteers joined with clergy and religious in carrying on the Church's extensive social service programs, and the health-care, spiritual, educational, and social service ministries to all the people of Washington.
Bibliography: d. buerge and j. rochester, Roots and Branches (Seattle 1988). m. duntley, "Japanese and Filipino Together: The Transethnic Vision of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish," U.S. Catholic Historian 18/1 (Winter 2000) 74–98. r. e. ficken and c. lewarne, Washington: A Centennial History (Seattle 1988). p. o'connell killen, "The Geography of a Minority Religion: Roman Catholicism in the Pacific Northwest," U.S. Catholic Historian 18/3 (Summer 2000): 51–72. w. schoenberg, A History of the Catholic Church in the Pacific Northwest, 1743–1983 (Washington, D.C. 1987). c. a. schwantes, The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History (Lincoln 1996). c. taylor, ed., Abundance of Grace: A History of the Archdiocese of Seattle 1850–2000 (Strasbourg 2000).
[p. o'connell killen]