The congregation of St. Mary’s Catholic Church will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a Mass at 6 p.m. Friday followed by a potluck dinner.
Bishop Blase Cupich will lead the Mass, and former parish priests have been invited to attend. Former parishioners are also welcome.
The church has stood at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Adams Road in Spokane Valley for its entire history. Volunteers built the first church there in 1913 and the first Mass was celebrated inside its walls on June 22 of that year.
“The original church was where the school is now,” said centennial committee co-chairwoman Kathi Meyer. “It was an old clapboard white church.”
In the early days it wasn’t unusual for priests to stay at the church for 20 years or longer. One, the Rev. Anthony Dosch, was known as the safe-cracking priest because of his skill at opening safes that people had locked themselves out of.
Church membership, which is now the largest in Spokane County, began booming after World War II. The old church was remodeled in 1956. An eight-room school was constructed in 1958 and 114 students signed up for classes in the fall. A parish hall and convent were added in 1960, then three more classrooms were added to the school.
The congregation had outgrown the original building and a new church was dedicated in 1973. It was remodeled in 1995 to become what it is today.
Some historical pictures will be shown during Friday’s program, but the church’s history isn’t all about buildings. Meyer joined the congregation in 1976 and brought up her two children there. Her youngest daughter is still a member and her granddaughter attends the school.
Even the current priest, the Rev. Pat Kirst, grew up in the church and attended school there.
“It’s our family,” Meyer said. “That’s the only way to describe it. I feel like I’m never alone because I always have my parish family. It’s a wonderful, wonderful community.”