(If you have information or photographs to add to this history, please drop me a line .)




The History of Saint Pius X Catholic Church
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho


In tracing our roots, we find that our parish family has dynamically grown in the Body of Christ.  The lives of the people of St. Pius X Parish have been enriched by many spiritual events and a multitude of generosity.  Indeed, we have become a visible sign of Jesus in today's everchanging world.  We are a blessed Family of God who worship Our Lord and who live to glorify His name.


St. Pius X is the second Catholic church to be established in Coeur d'Alene.  The first Catholic church was Saint Thomas the Apostle.  It was constructed in the fall of 1890 by Father Smith and still stands at the corner of 9th Street and Wallace Avenue.  In August 1909, Father Purcell laid the cornerstone for the present St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church and the doors opened for services in 1911.  The solemn dedication took place on May 30, 1912.






The parish of St. Pius X officially became family on September 12, 1962.  The bishop of Idaho divided the Coeur d'Alene area into two parishes, and St. Pius' jurisdiction covered the area north of Harrison Avenue.  While the church was being built, the congregation held services in the gymnasium of Borah Elementary School (affectionately nick-named Saint Borah by many parishioners and community members!)









Our first pastor, Father Thomas Lafey, came to Coeur d'Alene from the parish of Saints Peter and Paul in Grangeville, Idaho, on September 7, 1962.  He served at St. Pius X until September 25, 1969.



With Bishop S. W. Treinen presiding, ground breaking ceremonies for St. Pius X school and chapel were held on February 29, 1964.  Official construction began on April 10, 1964, and the first Mass was celebrated in the structure on August 15, 1964.






During construction, the members of St. Pius X demonstrated that church "is the body of believers," not the brick and mortar building!  The new facilities were largely constructed by work donated by the men of the parish.  The estimated cost of the building was substantially reduced by the "fine work done by these volunteers," said Fr. Lafey in a newspaper article.  The article continues to quote Fr. Lafey saying, "I would like to recognize John Gregor, buyer during construcion period; Kenneth Meyers, mechanical and plumbing worker; Forrest Pry, electrical worker; Neil Pyle, who did the cabinet and mill work; Howard Batcheldor, excavation; and Reuben Lunceford, who was in charge of the donated help."  


Frank Spuler (father of Doris Spuler Peterson) was one of several men who donated his time and generously helped in the building of St. Pius X.








Additionally donating their time and talent, Norman Peterson and Neil Pyle erected the beautiful teak wood ceiling.  The design of that ceiling is unique in that it resembles the hull of a boat.








On August 27, 1964, dedication ceremonies for St. Pius X Catholic School were presided by Bishop Treinen.




On September 1, 1964, St. Pius X Catholic School opened its doors.  Sisters from the Order of Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (located in Scranton, Pennsylvania) staffed the school along with Mrs. Gunnar Nelson.






















In 1969, Doris (Spuler) Peterson was hired as the first secretary, serving both church and school. 







Upon graduation from grade school, students from St. Pius X and St. Thomas the Apostle transfered to the Catholic high school, Academy of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM).



The parish communities actively supported the schools' ministry until 1971 when the Sisters' order in Pennsylvania announced the nuns withdrawal from both parishes (i.e., St. Pius and St. Thomas).








During this time of change, our second pastor Father John Morgan began his ministry at St. Pius X in September 1969.  Under his guidance there was a more active participation of the people in the Eucharistic Celebration, and the organization of the parish was implemented.  




Once again there was a relocation of the sanctuary.  After the school's closure, the former gymnasium (or multi-purpose room) was converted into a functional, aesthetic church with the establishment of a new sanctuary in the former theater (or stage) area.




To develop and create a constructive and meaningful religious education program within the churches of St. Pius and St. Thomas, Lidwin Dirne, a member of the Secular Institute of Mary of Annunciation, was hired as the Religious Education Coordinator in August 1971.  Sisters of Providence, Sr. Karen MacLean and Sr. Helen Mason, were hired as coordinators for the Northern Deanery.  (Lidwin continued to work in the parishes until her retirement in 1984.)








Coming from Idaho State University in Pocatello, Father David Riffle joined the parish in September 1973.  The new church was then blessed and dedicated on October 8, 1973.  Father Riffle relocated to Boise in July 1974.












On November 14, 1975, Father William Carroll became our third pastor.  Under Father Carroll's leadership, an addition to the church was built onto the parish hall providing a larger space for parish activities.  Lois Keenan kept house for Father Carroll and George Keenan took care of the parish maintenance.


In 1978, Doris Peterson retired as church secretary and Wanda Litalien was hired to replace her.  












On June 6, 1979, Father Bill Wassmuth became the fourth pastor of St. Pius X.  The parish continued to grow in size until the need for a new, larger worship facility became imperative!







Expansion and development brought the need for a Pastoral Assistant and Sister Carol Ann Wassmuth (Order of Saint Benedict) was hired in the fall of 1980. 



In November 1984, ground breaking ceremonies were held for the construction of our new church which was attached to the south end of the parish hall.  The dedication ceremony for the new building was held on May 12, 1985.








During Father Bill's pastorship, there were two active volunteer programs at St. Pius X -- "Volunteers in Ministry" and "Jesuit Volunteers."  Some of the individuals participating in these programs included: Milt Jacobs, Marc Andrews, Margaret (Codisputi) Davaz, Tony Koch, Ray Ishi, Karla Feist, and Mike Perkaus.




On June 22, 1985, Father Gordon Taylor, a former Episcopal priest, was ordained at St. Pius X for the Diocese of Boise.  Father Gordon served with us for two years before being reassigned to another parish.






September of 1987, St. Pius X Parish joyfully celebrated its 25th year as a church family!




In June 1988, Father Andy Schumacher became our fifth pastor bringing with him his musical talents and his gift of cheerful celebration.  The community of St. Pius X continued to grow in its concern for the needy as evidenced by the establishment of a weekly soup kitchen and its faith life.  Fr. Andy made the decision to use ten percent of envelope collections to fund the Outreach Programs.







The fall of 1988 saw the completion of two and one-half years of involvement in the RENEW Program, the benefits of which were evident for many years to come.


Deacon Walt Jackson and his wife Janice joined our parish in the fall of 1989.  Marie Van Slate worked as Outreach Minister.  In 1996, Deacon Jackson was relocated to St. Alphonsus Parish in Wallace, Idaho.







Father Roger LaChance became our sixth pastor on July 14, 1995, coming from St. Nicholas Parish in Rupert, Idaho.








The parish advertised for a new Outreach Minister and Deacon Gary McSwain was hired.





In 1996, Holy Family Catholic School was built as successor to the parish schools that were closed in 1971.







Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, Sr. Roberta Lamanna and Sr. Rosemary Thielman, were in charge of our parish Religious Education Programs, including RENEW sessions.  The Sisters spent eight years with St. Pius X until they felt the call to move on to new ministries.









In 2000, Deacon McSwain was made Director of Faith Formation Programs.  Cyndi O'Leary joined Lorraine Stravens and Brian Kraut as part of the Faith Formation Team, and Lillian McSwain succeeded her husband as Outreach Minister.



Over the next several years, our parish was blessed with the prayerful contribution and lively involvement of  the following Deacons:  Bill Sando; Walt Woznicki; Len Trueworthy; and Chuck Finan.


deacon_finan Deacon_Len_Peggy_Trueworthy walt_lorraine_woznicki


Charlie Mathes retired as head of maintenance with his helper Mike Schreir leaving shortly afterward.  Joe Traw took over the maintenance responsibilites and upkeep of our facilities.


The parish continued to grow in membership; hence, development continued to advance with need.  For example: a covered drive-thru area was constructed on the east side of the church which eliminated the build-up of snow in the entrance way, and the long standing dream of constructing a Faith Formation Center came into being.  Here the parish was blessed because our good people paid for the construction without us going into debt.  (It should be noted that our Faith Formation facility is the envy of many parishes!) 


Other major improvements included a Columbarium and Prayer Garden north of the Faith Formation Center, a new boiler was installed, there was the winterizing of the original school building, the re-siding of the church, plus the installation of a new ceiling and new roof on the church.  Moreover, the priest's house needed repaired due to a vehicle that crashed into the front room on August 24, 2007.




On July 1, 2010, Father Francisco (Pako) Godinez became our first Parochial Vicar!  Born and raised in La Piedad, Mexico, Fr. Pako graduated from Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon and was appointed to St. Pius X by Bishop Michael Driscoll.  The Bishop sent Fr. Pako to assist our parish and to attend to the needs of the Hispanic community.  As a priest incardinated into the Diocese of Boise, Fr. Pako wasted no time enthusiastically embracing the American way of life!  In the summer of 2012, Fr. Pako was reassigned as Pastoral Administrator to St. Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in St. Maries, Idaho and to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Station in Harrison, Idaho.






Father Adrian Vazquez joined our parish in 2012 as our second Parochial Vicar. Born in Las Tirinchicuas, Michoacán, México, Fr. Adrian graduated from Mount Angel Seminary and was ordained in June 2008.  In 2012, he was appointed to St. Pius X by Bishop Driscoll, and in 2013, he was reappointed to St. Edward the Confessor and Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Twin Falls, Idaho.






St. Pius X celebrated its Golden Jubilee on September 12, 2012!




After thirty-four (34!) years of service as St. Pius' Office Manager, Wanda Litalien retired in 2012.  Finding a replacement for her was not an easy task!  After lengthy discernment and a thorough search process, Denise Grzanich was hired.  Shortly afterward, Francesca Caffarena-Crespo and Janet Flerchinger joined the office staff.  







Deacon Eric Shaber and his wife Charlotte joined our parish in September 2013.











To this day, St Pius X continues to grow in the Body of Christ.  For over fifty years our parish has blossomed in Spirit, hospitality, population and ministry with Father Roger LaChance prayerfully leading us since 1995.




Warm and heartfelt thanks to the folks who supplied this information ~

with extra special acknowledgments extended to Doris & Norman Peterson, Wanda Litalien, and Lorraine Stravens!