Thursday, August 26, 2010

Seattle's Newest Catholic Church

Our deacon formation group toured this facility two years ago before the renovation began. I love the concept: create a faith gathering place to bring Christ into the lives of the rich and the poor, young and the old, right in the heart of downtown Seattle. That neighborhood already experiences some tension between the homeless and the wealthier condo dwellers. Maybe they can find common ground or, as St. Paul encouraged the Romans, unity in sharing communion together. I'll be there this weekend for one of the inaugural Masses. Please join me.


Reprinted from

The Seattle Archdiocese bucks a national trend toward closing inner-city parishes, dedicating the new Christ Our Hope parish in a city-landmark building.

By Stephen H. Dunphy

The Downtown Seattle Association estimates there are now more than 55,000 people living downtown. In 2008, the Kress IGA Supermarket opened on Third Avenue, adding another piece of needed community infrastructure.

Now downtown is about to get another institution that often helps form a neighborhood or community: a new church. The Archdiocese of Seattle this weekend (Aug. 28-29) will dedicate its first new building-based parish (as opposed to parishes for ethnic or other groups) in 42 years, when Christ Our Hope Parish officially opens in the Josephinum on Second Avenue.

The former high-ceilinged chapel in the building has been remodeled while preserving many of the architectural elements that make the building itself a special place. At the dedication the first pastor, the Rev. Paul Magnano, will be installed by Archbishop Alexander Brunett.

“We’re ready except for a few details here and there,” said Deacon Larry McDonald, one of three deacons assigned to the new parish. “We’re all pretty excited. I know the Archbishop is excited — this has been one of his dreams for years.”

Brunett issued a statement saying, “For some time now it has become clear to me that downtown Seattle needs a Catholic Church to serve the diverse needs of many Catholics in this vibrant and growing neighborhood. Responding to that need, I have created a new parish in downtown Seattle, with a new pastor and pastoral team. The parish will be called Christ Our Hope, the theme that Pope Benedict chose for his pilgrimage to the United States in 2008.”

Magnano, the new pastor, said he hopes “that everyone can come together in this church — the rich and the poor, the old and the young, all the diversity of downtown Seattle, sharing the same place, around the family table, so to speak.”

On Oct. 28, 2009, on the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Christ Our Hope was officially established as a personal parish, a parish that has no geographic boundaries. The new parish may draw downtown workers for daytime services when they are unable to travel to their own parishes during the workday.

The new parish is another signal that downtown Seattle is becoming a true community, changing dramatically from a typical downtown that empties out at 5 p.m. as workers leave to commute to homes elsewhere. With 55,000 people, there is a critical mass of residents now that has changed downtown.

The new parish runs against the grain in some ways and with it in others. Throughout the country, the Catholic Church is closing many parishes and schools in the inner city. So it is unusual for a new parish to be created. The parish also fits in with existing downtown churches such as Plymouth Congregational and the First United Methodist Church, which moved in January to its new site at 180 Denny Way.

First Church, as it now calls itself, also believes that “direct service to the homeless is a cornerstone of spiritual life.” Magnano, a Seattle native with deep family ties to the community, sees the new parish serving the many different populations downtown from high-rise condo dwellers to the homeless.

Magnano was pastor at St. Therese Parish in the Madrona neighborhood. Under his leadership, St. Therese in the summer of 2001 became the first Catholic parish in the area to host a tent city on parish grounds. Speaking of his new parish, he described the church as "downtown's living room."

The building itself is a Seattle landmark. It started as a hotel in 1908 to accommodate the rush of people expected for the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition the following year. The New Washington Hotel hosted such celebrities as President Howard Taft, Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley. The building was purchased in 1963 by the Archdiocese of Seattle, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace were asked to help with the management of the facility.

The building was renamed the Josephinum after the Sisters’ patron saint, St. Joseph. The building continues now to serve about 220 very low-income residents as part of the Archdiocesan Catholic Housing Services.

The new parish shares the building with those residents and the offices of SHARE/WHEEL, the self-help group that sponsors the region’s tent cities. SHARE (Seattle Housing and Resource Effort) is co-ed while WHEEL (Women's Housing, Equality and Enhancement League) is women-only.

The two are partner organizations of homeless and formerly homeless men and women, and all of their efforts are self-managed by the homeless members themselves. With the arrival of the new parish, the organizations have moved to new offices in the basement of the building — with a separate entrance in the alley between Second and Third avenues off Stewart Street.

Early this week, the offices were still in transition with a clutter of moving boxes. The group tries to keep a low profile in the media — its tent cities draw enough attention — so it has not said anything about its new neighbor.

Joe Martin, a social worker and well-known activist (he is a co-founder of the Pike Market Clinic), said the new parish is a welcome addition to downtown. Martin said SHARE/WHEEL has a policy of keeping a low profile, so he was not surprised that they did not want to comment on the new parish.

“The parish is reaching out and recognizing the many kinds of people who comprise the downtown community,” Martin said. “I think it might even attract some people who are not Catholic but looking for some kind of spiritual home.”

McDonald said the only relationship between the SHARE/WHEEL organization and the parish is that they are both tenants of Catholic Housing Services. “We both have the same mission, serving the poor,” he said, adding that the parish has a strong group of volunteers. Although there is nothing specific to point to as yet, he said the surrounding neighborhood seems positive about the new parish.

“I am sensing a lot of excitement,” he said. “People seem interested in our mission to serve residents of this building, people on the street, tourists, downtown workers.”

Magnano, asked if his role as pastor of a downtown parish would thrust him into downtown politics, said, “The church has to be where the people are and involved in their issues and concerns, hopes and dreams. We have to be courageous in bringing our faith to bear on every aspect of our daily lives, including the public order.”

The Mass of Dedication of the church will be celebrated at 5 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 28). The Mass of Installation for Father Magnano as Pastor will be at 9:30 a.m. Sunday (Aug. 29).


Steve Dunphy is Vice President for Communications and Strategy at the Cascade Land Conservancy. He also was a business editor and columnist for a number of years at The Seattle Times.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Friend In Need

Brian Camp is a friend of mine. We first met when he coached our oldest son's t-ball team 15 years ago. Brian was a healthy, former star high school baseball and basketball player who had a love of teaching young people to art of the game. Shortly after that experience, Brian was diagnosed with debilitating Parkinson's disease. We stayed in touch over the years. And in 2004, Brian and I co-managed a Little League baseball team together. He really was the manager. I just helped organize and did what I could to assist with teaching the game. Brian never let his disease get in the way. I respect him greatly and pray for him every day. Please do the same. There's a fundraiser for Brian being held next month. Click on the above title to donate online if you feel called to do so.


By Kristi O'Harran, Herald Columnist

Team Lexi set the bar very, very high.

An upcoming golf tournament for a medical-needs campaign called Camp Brian may not produce the same monetary windfall, but its heart is in the same place.

Brian Camp, 52, was on Team Lexi. Now he needs help because he has Parkinson's disease. A fundraising group that calls itself Camp Brian aims to raise money to help the single father and his three school-aged children.

Really, what goes around comes around in this case.

Let's take a look back at Team Lexi to understand how these friends operate.

Lexi Frost, a junior at Lake Stevens High School, and her family live on Lake Stevens. She was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 22 months old.

There were two years of treatment and remission, then in December 1997, the cancer came back.

Friends formed Team Lexi. They took turns on 24-hour shifts to help with child care, trips to the pharmacy and organizing meal deliveries.

The team included movers and shakers in these parts: Folks who gave and didn't expect to see their well-known names splashed in the newspaper.

To help pay for Lexi's medical expenses, they sold candy bars at ferry docks and Team Lexi T-shirts. They raised an amazing $165,000.

That wasn't the big miracle.

Lexi's brother, Brennan, donated the bone marrow that saved his sister's life.

The family, including Michelle Frost, nurse manager with the Pediatric Advanced Care Team at Seattle Children's Hospital; Whitney Frost, an orthopedic physician at the Everett Clinic; and their oldest son, Riley, never forgot how many people helped them.

Michelle Frost said money collected was used for part of the transplant that wasn't covered, including $50,000 they paid up front and for medicine (a huge monthly expense) and months of lodging for the family while Lexi was in the hospital.

Frost said it was humbling to be on the receiving end of donations. She said Brian Camp, a lifelong friend, was active with Team Lexi.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's about the same time as Lexi's transplant. Camp is confronting the full force of the debilitating disease and its downward spiral.

"When Brian was reeling from the effects of his Parkinson's disease, unable to work and facing brain surgery, a similar group -- made up of the same high school friends and Brian's lifetime friends and family -- joined forces to raise money," Frost said. "From my point of view, in America, this is one of the ways we extend our support, our hands and our prayers. We give money, which means, 'We are with you.'"

Words of encouragement are helpful, Frost said, but words don't keep the lights on.

Camp was born in Seattle to a family with seven children. His father took a truck driving job in Everett and they moved to the Eastmont area.

He graduated in 1976 from Cascade High School and in 1982 from Central Washington University.

Camp worked for many years for Boys & Girls Clubs and ran a pub for eight years in south Everett.

"I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1997 by several neurologists at the Everett Clinic," he wrote via e-mail. "I had deep brain stimulation several times. It is a very long story."

To help with expenses, a fundraiser golf tournament is planned for 9 a.m. Sept. 17 at Legion Memorial Golf Course, 144 W. Marine View Drive in Everett. Sign in at 8 a.m. The cost is $125 per player.

Also, a Camp Brian "funraiser" is planned for 7 p.m. at Floral Hall at Forest Park, 802 Mukilteo Blvd., Everett. The suggested donation is $30.

For more information on both events, go online to

One member of Camp Brian is only 5 feet tall.

"She is so tiny, even after growth hormones," Lexi's mother said. "However, a very small price to pay for what is now called our 'normal' life."

Lexi is a big supporter of Camp Brian.

"I love Brian, he is like family to me," Lexi said. "It's an amazing thing to have so many people pulling for you."

Kristi O'Harran: 425-339-3451; .

For Camp Brian

A fundraiser golf tournament to benefit Brian Camp, who has Parkinson's disease, is planned for 9 a.m. Sept. 17 at Legion Memorial Golf Course, 144 W. Marine View Drive in Everett. Sign in at 8 a.m. The cost is $125 per player.

A "funraiser" is planned for 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at Floral Hall at Forest Park, 802 Mukilteo Blvd., Everett. The suggested donation is $30.

For more information, go online to

Monday, August 16, 2010


I read an interesting New York Times OP/ED recently. Clergy are becoming disillusioned as a result of congregations wanting short, entertaining sermons that leave parishioners feeling great about themselves. As a deacon candidate, the prospects of the author's premise are somewhat daunting. I'm hoping Catholic churchgoers are different.



The American clergy is suffering from burnout, several new studies show. And part of the problem, as researchers have observed, is that pastors work too much. Many of them need vacations, it’s true. But there’s a more fundamental problem that no amount of rest and relaxation can help solve: congregational pressure to forsake one’s highest calling.

The pastoral vocation is to help people grow spiritually, resist their lowest impulses and adopt higher, more compassionate ways. But churchgoers increasingly want pastors to soothe and entertain them. It’s apparent in the theater-style seating and giant projection screens in churches and in mission trips that involve more sightseeing than listening to the local people.

As a result, pastors are constantly forced to choose, as they work through congregants’ daily wish lists in their e-mail and voice mail, between paths of personal integrity and those that portend greater job security. As religion becomes a consumer experience, the clergy become more unhappy and unhealthy.

The trend toward consumer-driven religion has been gaining momentum for half a century. Consider that in 1955 only 15 percent of Americans said they no longer adhered to the faith of their childhood, according to a Gallup poll. By 2008, 44 percent had switched their religious affiliation at least once, or dropped it altogether, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found. Americans now sample, dabble and move on when a religious leader fails to satisfy for any reason.

In this transformation, clergy have seen their job descriptions rewritten. They’re no longer expected to offer moral counsel in pastoral care sessions or to deliver sermons that make the comfortable uneasy. Church leaders who continue such ministerial traditions pay dearly. A few years ago, thousands of parishioners quit Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., and Community Church of Joy in Glendale, Ariz., when their respective preachers refused to bless the congregations’ preferred political agendas and consumerist lifestyles.

I have faced similar pressures myself. In the early 2000s, the advisory committee of my small congregation in Massachusetts told me to keep my sermons to 10 minutes, tell funny stories and leave people feeling great about themselves. The unspoken message in such instructions is clear: give us the comforting, amusing fare we want or we’ll get our spiritual leadership from someone else.

Congregations that make such demands seem not to realize that most clergy don’t sign up to be soothsayers or entertainers. Pastors believe they’re called to shape lives for the better, and that involves helping people learn to do what’s right in life, even when what’s right is also difficult. When they’re being true to their calling, pastors urge Christians to do the hard work of reconciliation with one another before receiving communion. They lead people to share in the suffering of others, including people they would rather ignore, by experiencing tough circumstances — say, in a shelter, a prison or a nursing home — and seeking relief together with those in need. At their courageous best, clergy lead where people aren’t asking to go, because that’s how the range of issues that concern them expands, and how a holy community gets formed.

Ministry is a profession in which the greatest rewards include meaningfulness and integrity. When those fade under pressure from churchgoers who don’t want to be challenged or edified, pastors become candidates for stress and depression.

Clergy need parishioners who understand that the church exists, as it always has, to save souls by elevating people’s values and desires. They need churchgoers to ask for personal challenges, in areas like daily devotions and outreach ministries.

When such an ethic takes root, as it has in generations past, then pastors will cease to feel like the spiritual equivalents of concierges. They’ll again know joy in ministering among people who share their sense of purpose. They might even be on fire again for their calling, rather than on a path to premature burnout.


G. Jeffrey MacDonald, a minister in the United Church of Christ, is the author of “Thieves in the Temple: The Christian Church and the Selling of the American Soul.”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Catholic Come Home TV commercials

(Click on above headline to see the TV spot)

Hot off the presses... and taken from the website today:

(August 4, 2010) Roswell, GA—Catholics Come Home will premier their new TV commercial “Home” as part of the upcoming Advent 2010 television initiative. The commercial, which invites all people “to experience the peace that only comes from God,” gives viewers hope especially during these tough times. The commercial premieres just as Pope Benedict XVI offers his August mission prayer intention, “That the Church may be a ‘home’ for all people.”

“Home” will air beginning in December in select markets across the United States in English, Spanish and closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

Also debuting is a new commercial for, the Spanish language website of This testimonial commercial features Eduardo Verástegui, actor, producer, and star of the movie Bella. Eduardo shares his personal testimony of his journey back to his Catholic roots after years outside the Church pursuing fame and material success. “There is nothing greater than to wake up every day and to use your talents that God gave you to serve Him and to serve others,” Eduardo stated during the Hollywood shoot. These commercials will premier on Spanish language television in December, in a number of markets across the U.S..

Tom Peterson, President and Founder of Catholics Come Home, met with Eduardo in Los Angeles to produce the commercials and website videos for both and the outreach ministry Spirit Juice Studios of Chicago, following the Peterson/Verástegui story, produced a behind the scenes video of the two commercial shoots.

Catholics Come Home (CCH) is a not for profit, independent charity designed to invite inactive Catholics and others searching for a faith home to the Catholic Church, through television commercials and interactive websites. In response to twelve initial CCH campaigns and viral exposure of the website, the website has been visited by over 1 million individuals from all fifty states and over one hundred countries, who were moved by the welcoming messages and website. Overall, the CCH TV messages have reached nearly 20 million television viewers across the United States, just since 2008.

To date, CCH campaigns have aired in twelve dioceses from Providence to Sacramento, Chicago to Seattle, helping to increase Mass attendance an average of nearly 11%, and welcoming a total of 200,000 inactive Catholics and converts home since inception.

Now, Catholics Come Home is inviting other families back to the Catholic faith across the country in 13 additional dioceses, including Boston, Worcester, Portland Maine, Atlanta, Charlotte, and many other dioceses and archdioceses.

By 2012, hopes to begin airing on national US television networks and national cable systems, then internationally in the future.

The inspiring television and website advertisements are viewable at

“These messages are created and sponsored by lay Catholic families who have experienced a renewal of faith and who want to bring purpose and hope to other families across the country. The results are nothing short of miraculous,” said Founder, Tom Peterson.