Bishop Emeritus of Spokane Diocese, pastoral letter steering committee honored
On Friday, March 4, at the Patsy Clark Mansion in Spokane, people gathered to honor Bishop William Skylstad, Bishop Emeritus of the Spokane Diocese, and the steering committee of the Columbia River Pastoral Letter, titled “The Columbia River Watershed: Caring for Creation and the Common Good – An International Pastoral Letter by the Catholic Bishops of the Watershed Region.” This year marks the 15th anniversary of the pastoral letter. The event marking the anniversary also served as a reunion for members of the letter’s steering committee. The dinner was hosted jointly by the Upper Columbia River Group of Sierra Club and the Center for Environmental Law and Policy (CELP) to honor “watershed heroes” and to raise funds to advance stewardship of the Spokane River and the Columbia River. The evening also directed attention to Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care of Our Common Home. Upper Columbia United Tribes (UCUT) representative Keith Kuchins read a letter from the fi ve tribes that constitute UCUT. The stewardship and justice messages contained within the Columbia River Pastoral Letter are important for the people of the Basin, including tribes and First Nations struggling with the wrenching impacts of the dam-building era.
Bishop William Skylstad and other members of the steering committee of the Columbia River Pastoral
Letter were honored earlier this month. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the letter,
“Caring for Creation and the Common Good.” (IR photo courtesy of John Osborn)
The UCUT – comprised of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Colville Confederated Tribes, Kalispel Tribe
of Indians, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and the Spokane Tribe of Indians – was a major sponsor of the honoring event.
Professor Steve Kolmes, a member of the Steering Committee and who has been involved with implementing the pastoral letter through the Ethics & Treaty Project, introduced Bishop Skylstad and the members of the Steering Committee. “Bishop Skylstad’s leadership was really crucial to all of us taking a compassionate but unblinking look at what we saw,” said Professor Kolmes. “The Pastoral’s goal was to acknowledge rather than to blame, to come to a common understanding rather than to polarize.” In addition to Bishop Skylstad and Professor Kolmes, other members of the steering committee were Joseph Burns, Robert J. Castagna, Jesuit Father Scott Coble, J.L. Drouhard, Dr. Frank Fromherz, Donna Hanson, Dr. John Hart, Dr. Loretta Jancoski, Rev. Pat Monette, Dominican Sister Sharon Park, Rev. Ron Patnode, Dr. Mark Petruncio, Holy Names Sister Cecilia Ranger, John Reid (Project Manager), Yvonne Smith, and Wes Towle.
The text of the letter – in English, Spanish, and French – is posted, along with a link to a companion video, on the web site of the Washington State Catholic Conference: www.thewscc.org.