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Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace for those he favours

Karyn who is a reader of the blog  asked me how I felt about being Catholic in Idaho.  “I was curious about being a Catholic in Idaho; I’m assuming Catholics are a minority there, but perhaps I’m wrong..it’s sometimes difficult being here where there’s only one church within an hour’s drive and the vast majority of people seem to believe we’re not Christians. And the church that is closest is very, um, kumbaya..”

Being Roman Catholic in Idaho is very, very comfortable. 

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First Idaho, from my experiences comes off as a massive “leave me the -blank- alone” type of state.  You could have five wives, 30 children and believe in fundamentalist Mormonism and if you kept to yourself, you know what the response would be by many of the people I’ve met?  Who cares.  That is their business.  This is why the NAZI guys were “tolerated” in Idaho for a period of time.   Not because people in Idaho like them, but because people in Idaho really seem to be cut from the cloth of “mind your own business.”  There is a strong Libertarian streak in the people of Idaho.  People in Idaho seem to hate to get into each others business.  Because of this, you with a bunch of kids in Catholic kid uniforms would raise no eyes in my opinion (IMO).  None at all.

church_bodiesSecond Catholics are not that much of a minority.  The “majority” of people in Idaho are Mormons at 23% I like living next to Mormons.  This is reasonable as Mormons have tried to settled the State for a long time.  “Roman Catholic and Presbyterian missionaries first came to Idaho between 1820 and 1840. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) has been the leading religion in Idaho since 1860; with about a quarter of the population.”  They don’t think Catholics are not Christians, they often try to convert us, but in general they are a very family friendly, remember being self-sufficient and law-abiding people. The second largest group of religious people are Evangelical Protestants, at 22%.  Now yes there are some Evangelical Protestants who have strange view points of Catholics, they are Protestants.  “You worship Mary and multiple gods.”  In general I leave those people alone as long as they leave me alone. Also see point one.

“Conversely, there is a larger percentage of Catholics living in Idaho, than there are representing constituents in the Legislature. Eighteen percent of Idahoans say they’re Catholic, 8 percent of legislators self-identify as Catholic.”

395px-Seal_of_Idaho.svgThe Evangelical are 22% or nearly 1 out of 4 of Protestants.  The third largest group are Catholics at 18%.  Nearly 1 out of 5 people you meet is Catholic.   This is nothing like growing up in the South were the vast, majority are Southern Baptist.  Since there are 1/4 Mormon, 1/4 Evangelicals, 1/4 Catholic and 1/4 “mainline Protestants” things are fairly balance.  Thus you don’t “feel” like a religious minority.

The largest denominations by number of members in 2000 were The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 311,425; (2008: 406,764) the Catholic Church with 130,847; the Assemblies of God with 18,745; and the United Methodist Church with 17,683.

To hear me talk about this issue with John Jacob Schmidt on his very popular radio show please check out our interview.

Approximately 150,000 Catholics live within the Diocese of Boise, making them approximately 11% of the population of the state of Idaho. The diocese is divided up into six regions, called deaneries. In the whole of the diocese, there are 51 parishes, 31 stations, and 25 chapels.[2] There are also five Catholic hospitals—namely Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Mercy Medical Center in Nampa, St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, St. Mary Hospital in Cottonwood, and St. Benedict Medical Center in Jerome — 13 elementary schools, and one high school–Bishop Kelly in Boise.

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Father Dennis M. Gordon, FSSP
Coeur D Alene, Idaho

Third, without Priests there is no Mass.  Thus you need to find a place where there are Priests.  Here is a list of Catholic parishes in Idaho.  Now because we have such a shortage of Priest they tend to hang out near larger cities where they can serve large parishes.  However in Idaho there is a strong traditionalist movement in the state.  I looked around Idaho to see where I wanted to live by first looking at places that had apparently active Catholic parishes.  The places I initially found were:

FSSP Saint Joan of Arc Chapel, Coeur d’Alene, ID
SSPX Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel, New Plymouth, ID
SSPX Immaculate Conception Church, Post Falls, ID
CMRI (Sedevacantist) Mary Immaculate Queen Church, Rathdrum, ID
SSPX Saint Joseph Mission, Saint Maries, ID

Coat_of_Arms_of_FSSP.svgThe most active Traditional Catholic parish in Idaho, that I have personal experience with is  Saint Joan of Arc Chapel Coeur D Alene and staffed by the FSSP.  The Pastor of Saint Joan of Arc is Father Dennis M. Gordon, FSSP, the assistant Pastor is Father David J. Kemna, FSSP.  They are currently renting a building until they save up money and figure out what they will do, but they are a very active parish.  There are two dedicated traditional Priests and a good-sized congregation, having babies and building a community.   They have a homeschooling group and two single sex Catholic private schools.  When we attended Mass there (which my wife really liked, the first time we attended, she cried, I asked her why and she said she cried because she was happy, women they cry when they are happy, cry when they are sad, it is all very confusing, as a slightly more experienced husband, I just grunted and hugged her) we were visitors but found the parish to be very welcoming.  I personally feel comfortable attending services with the SSPX, but not the CMRI, unless there was no other choice.  Here is an article I previously publish talking about the SSPX and FSSP in Idaho.205px-Héraldique_meuble_Coeur_vendéen.svg

Now my property is not near any of these it is “around” Lewiston in the greater Palouse.   I looked at and liked the Saint Joan of Arc parish, but my family is not a cold weather family.  I needed to look for an area that got less snow, and the snow stuck less.  Thus I looked at the “lowest point” in all of Idaho, and that is around the city of Lewiston. For example in the last ten years snow has not stuck more than three days in the city at 700 feet above sea level.  It is a very moderate climate for Idaho.  I really like that it has two massive fresh water rivers (Snake and Clearwater), on the border of Oregon and Washington and is at 30,000 people the 9th largest city in the state. Right about the size we want.  Most importantly I found a piece of land that met all of my requirements and “spoke” to me.  I could see us on this land.

11547_392516007523032_785906231_nIn the city of Lewiston there is a Catholic school K-8, All Saints,  A Nuevo Ordo Catholic Parish, All Saints and a Catholic hospital St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston. How Catholic is that, Parish, hospital and school?  There is an active Nuevo Ordo Catholic group, doing what Nuevo Ordo people tend to do.  Being confused.  They had three very nice, old churches all in car distance (three churches inside the city limits).  The Priest want a “bigger” single Parish so the are selling off their three churches and buying a new one.  The new Parish is called All Saints.  Some of the faithful are very, vary angry.  No one likes to see Catholic churches they were baptized sold off to the highest bidder for the purpose of building a new age monument.  Of course would the Diocese of Idaho sell these Catholics churches to the SSPX, CMRI or even the FSSP?  Nope, of course not.  All Saints in Lewiston, Idaho is led by Father Brad Neely and Parochial Vicar Father Evarist Shiyo.  I have no direct interaction with either of these Priest other than listening to a few of their Homilies.   As traditionalist we pray for them and All Saints and keep working.

The Diocese of Boise (covering all of Idaho) is run by his Excellency Most Reverend Michael P. Driscoll, MSW, DD.  He goes by Bishop Mike, and … well that says a lot.  He is not been known to be a friend of Traditional Catholics. He will not let the FSSP grow, but relegates them to one Parish in the far North of the state.  One example is that over 100 families in the greater Lewiston area have humbly requested from our Progressive Bishop that he allow one single Sunday Holy Traditional Mass.  His Excellency Driscoll said no.  All this would consist of is a Priest with knowledge of the Holy Traditional Latin Mass, driving down to give one Mass on Sunday instead of 100 families driving three hours to attend one.  “…The bishop says that because there is such a need just for the English Mass that they can not have the Holy Latin Mass. My God; how sad that there are so many people desiring the Holy Latin Mass and no where to go other than 3 hours away.   Let us pray and write to Ecclesia Dei, the Papal Nuncio in Washington D.C. and our bishops on a constant basisreports Father. Peter Carota.   Even through the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI directed His Excellency Driscoll to allow it in his Apostolic Letter “Summorum Pontificum” when he said clearly; “In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962…”  His Excellency Driscoll apparently a very progressive Bishop said no.  His Excellency Driscoll comes from ultra-progressive California, where he left his former diocese with some controversy.  From the Boston Globe “The files, released Tuesday, show that then-Auxiliary Bishop Michael P. Driscoll and Monsignor John Urell knew of repeated allegations of sexual misconduct against Orange County priests yet did little to protect parishioners or prevent future abuse.” As Traditional Catholics we pray for his Excellency Driscoll, continue to write to the Vatican’s chief diplomat in the U.S. His Excellency Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò to press for the Traditional Latin Mass in Lewiston, and keep working.

Thus what is our plan?  Well there are many Traditional Catholic families that live in Lewiston and drive up to Saint Joan of Arc Chapel, Coeur d’Alene as often as they can.  It is a two-hour drive from Lewiston to Coeur d’Alene, thus some families do it every other Sunday.   As a matter-of-fact a family that lives near Lewiston who drives up every other weekend has given the Church two Priests!  One family two priest who are in school with the FSSP.  That is a blessing.  We will most likely do that for now.  Drive up to Saint Joan of Arc Chapel, Coeur d’Alene regularly.

Thus when you are looking for a place, my suggestion is to think of the “core” Traditionalist Catholic areas in Idaho and work your way “out” from there including thinking of driving distance.  And then start looking around.  One of these days I should spend the summer driving to each and every place here and looking around and taking pictures.  That would be a great homework assignment and trip.

Below is a very, very long video.  It is like two hours, but it shows a Nuevo Order Mass and the Traditional Mass of the Catholic Church.  I ended up watching it all.

To sum it up again, I have no hesitation, as a Catholic, living in good times or in bad times in Idaho   First of all, in general the vast majority of people from Idaho are “leave me along” types.  In general they leave you alone no matter who you are and expect the same.   That is why they tend to distrust the FedGov because it will not leave them alone.  Second, we are not that much of a minority, we have similar numbers as other religious groups and other than the Mormons who don’t express hostility toward Catholics they are divided up between many churches.  The “fairly” unified Catholic faith does not feel at all as a minority.  The people who dug my well were both Catholic and came from a large Catholic family.  Third there is a very active Traditional Catholic community in Idaho as expressed by several Traditional Catholic parishes.  If you consider these areas when moving you will be even more comfortable.  Also, even though the Nuevo Ordo people are … well Nuevo Ordo, in Idaho they are normally pretty conservative and not very kumbaya.

JWR says this “…In my experience, people who move to the Redoubt are judged by their politics, their religious persuasion (Bard Note: if they are Christian) , and whether or not they are hunters far more than they are for their skin pigmentation.”

IMO I say, being in Idaho as nearly anyone is pretty easy as long as you don’t bring a bunch of liberal non-sense to the state.  Hunt, let your kids play, plant a garden and mind your business.  Being a Christian of nearly any strip is well received. It is my fairly well-informed opinion that being a Catholic in Idaho is very easy.