In the American Northwest, the blood and sweat of the missionaries has definitely not flowed in vain. The priory of Post Falls, Idaho, has just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the dedication of its church to Our Lady on December 8, 1972, under the name of the Immaculate Conception.
In the Footsteps of Fr. De Smet
It is not terribly far from the old Mission of the Sacred Heart, founded within the Coeur d'Alene Indian tribe, that Providence decided to revive Tradition today. In 1841, for the first time, Fr. De Smet answered the call of the Cœur d'Alène, Nez Percés, and Têtes Plates Indians, and came himself to prepare the establishment of the Jesuit missions in these lands.
When the first missionaries arrived, the Indians exulted, because what had finally comes true for them was this mysterious prophecy which had announced to them the arrival one day of “Black robes, carrying a crucifix, not being married, and saying the Great Prayer” (Mass). Antonio Ravalli, Joseph Cataldo, Msgr. Augustin-Magloire Blanchet, and many more dedicated their talents and their lives to the evangelization of Indian tribes.
Referring to the origins of the revival of Tradition in Post Falls, Fr. Daniel Couture, one of the first priors, explains: “It all began with an old priest’s love for the true Mass, the Mass of his ordination, and his decision to remain faithful to it. This priest is Fr. Edward DeBusschere.”
Born in Belgium in 1902, he emigrated with his family to Canada, where he was ordained a priest in 1930 for the Missionaries of La Salette. After having served in various parishes, and accompanied the Canadian troops as a chaplain during the Second World War, he obtained from his bishop permission to withdraw from the ministry, and in 1953, came to settle in the United States, in the small city of Spokane Valley, Washington. Instead of a quiet retreat, Providence had a mission for him.
When, in the 1960s, the spirit and the new liturgy of Vatican II began to spread in the parishes, some faithful felt betrayed. Looking for a solution to their distress, they heard about this Canadian priest, retired to Spokane Valley, who continued to celebrate Mass in Latin in his office, which he transformed into a chapel.
In 1969, four people began to attend Fr. DeBusschere's Mass regularly in his modest St. Pius V chapel. But their numbers soon grew, and a church had to be found. The church of St. George, in the heart of Post Falls, was located on the route of the new highway under construction and doomed to be destroyed.
It was purchased at auction by John O'Neill and Leonard Malloy, then transported by truck to its new location: a property purchased at the intersection of 4th Avenue and Lincoln Street. On December 8, 1972, Fr. DeBusschere blessed it and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception.
The small community, which numbered about 300 faithful, continued to grow. As Fr. DeBusschere was getting older, it was necessary to think about perpetuating this work. The faithful then turned to the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). After a first visit in 1976, Archbishop Lefebvre returned in May 1980, for Fr. DeBusschere's golden jubilee, and promised to send a priest from the SSPX one day.
The promise was fulfilled two years later, with the arrival of the first Society priest. Since then, 61 priests have devoted themselves to the 1,700 faithful who frequent the parish today.
The Traditional Mass and Truly Catholic Schools
Archbishop Lefebvre had very clearly insisted on the importance of having good schools when he came in 1976: “You cannot have real Catholic families if there are no real Catholic schools.” The opening of a school in September 1975, Immaculate Conception Academy, contributed greatly to the influx of many new families over the years. The Dominican teacher sisters from Fanjeaux came from France to found St. Dominic school in 1991. And thanks in particular to these two establishments, 72 priestly and religious vocations were born in Post Falls.
Another great blessing was the installation of the Carmel of the Holy Trinity in Spokane in 1990, which Archbishop Lefebvre predicted would be “a source of many graces for all the faithful of Post Falls.”
The story of Post Falls is not an isolated case. And in the words of Fr. Couture: “It is really the story of a tribute to the Sacrifice of the Mass.” Where the Holy Mass of all time continues to be celebrated, it continues to establish the reign of Our Lord, in the midst of tears and joys, through trials and blessings. May we continue to transmit what we have received.