A Contrast of White and Blue: Road Trip Part 2: Jesuit Missions

When we took the recent road trip to the southern part of Ferry County we took time to appreciate the Catholic Missions located on the Colville Indian Reservation. The history behind the Catholic churches in the Inchelium area where I teach has been an important part of stories told by the elders when they remind us of the history of the area. The Jesuits ministered to Native Americans throughout the Pacific Northwest, beginning in the mid-1800s, and built many small churches for their congregations. In 1918 Jesuits built the first Catholic church in Inchelium and named it in honor of St. Celestine. The name may have had something to do with the Jesuit priest who built the church: Father Celestine Caldi. When the Columbia River was filled with the water from Coulee Dam to create Lake Roosevelt, the church from Old Inchelium was moved up the hill to its present location. The parish (pictured above) is called St. Michael's Mission. The first time I entered this parish much about it reminded me of the Cataldo Mission close to my hometown in Kellogg, Idaho. That day we also stopped at the other Catholic parish that used to serve the people in the south end of the reservation. It is called Rogers Bar Community Church (named for a gathering place/campground on a sand bar on Lake Roosevelt) and is located about twenty miles south of Inchelium on Silver Creek Road. It is used now twice a year for services and also for special events. I was awestruck by its beauty. The parish sits on a hill above Lake Roosevelt and is surrounded by trees and meadows. There is also a cemetery up the hill further. When you peak in the windows you can see Christ of the Columbia carved into the altar, but the statues and pews are covered with protective tarps. I loved the rich hue of the elderberries hanging from a branch at the entrance of the church. It is obvious parishioners take great pride in this building. It has been maintained beautifully. It was the location for our picnic lunch as we took a break during out road trip.Once again I gained new appreciation for the beauty of the buildings and scenery of the south end of the county in which I live. It was a glorious road trip.

6 comments

  1. Anonymous21.9.07

    What lovely photos, and interesting historical info, too.

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  2. That is a beautiful church!

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  3. I love old churches and these photos are gorgeous.

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  4. Amazing images. A simpler time a day long ago when wagons were hitched for to attend.
    Thank you for the history too.

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  5. Thanks to all of you. I was very surprised when we drove up to the second church. I had driven by years ago and it was a bit run down. Now it is painted and restored and it was a gem on the hill. It was also a perfect day for pictures.

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  6. Thanks to all of you. I was very surprised when we drove up to the second church. I had driven by years ago and it was a bit run down. Now it is painted and restored and it was a gem on the hill. It was also a perfect day for pictures.

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