Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane religious academy advertised musical three nights this week despite governor’s orders

Father Casimir Puskorius delivers a sermon at St. Michael's at Mount St. Michael in Spokane in this file photo. The parish is sponsoring a musical this weekend that defies the recent pandemic restrictions announced by Gov. Jay Inslee.  (JOE BARRENTINE)

While cases continued to climb in Spokane and the state had rolled back to tighter restrictions, Mount Saint Michael’s Academy was announcing ticket sales for three showings of their high school musical, Willy Wonka, Jr., according to the academy’s website as of Friday.

As of Saturday, the academy had removed the advertisement for the play , but Rev. Casimir Puskorius, drama director Anne Marie Netzel and high school principal Sister Michael Marie had not responded to requests to interview.

Thursday was the second day in a week Spokane’s new COVID-19 case numbers topped 400. Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered a ban on all gatherings unless all participants have quarantined for seven days and received negative test results 48 hours prior to the event.

The Willy Wonka announcement made no mention of prior quarantining or negative test results as requirements to attend. The advertisement did not mention masks, nor social distancing.

“This show will not disappoint,” the advertisement says. “As with any of our previous musicals, this will be one you do not want to miss.”

Mount Saint Michael calls itself a “traditional” Catholic parish, but is not part of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane. It does not recognize the pope.

The church has a school and convent. It was reported twice in August and twice again in November for large gatherings and other violations of Inslee’s orders intended to prevent the spread of COVID, according to Safe Start violations reports requested by The Spokesman-Review.

Friday, Mt. St. Michael’s official twitter account, managed by Puskorius, according to the page’s bio, retweeted a post calling Inslee a “want to be Emperor.” A retweet Thursday referred to masks as “completely useless” while another said “face masks spread communism far more” than they stop the spread of COVID-19.

Several other Mt. St. Michael retweets Friday spread disproved ideas about a stolen and fraudulent election.

On the St. Michael’s Academy website, searches of the words “COVID-19,” “coronavirus” and “mask” turn up no results. While there are recently updated sections outlining dress code, procedure for snow days and recent cases of lice, there are no mentions of COVID-19 protocols. The Mt. St. Michael’s parish website does have a COVID advisory, though, and says guests are “highly encouraged” to wear masks. 

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Nov. 21, 2020 to reflect that the school had taken down its advertisement for the plays as of Saturday. In addition, the story has been updated to reflect that, while the St. Michael’s Academy website does not mention COVID-19 protocols, the parish’s website does.