Mount St. Michael's....ever heard of it? I hadn't either until about three years ago. In my defense I had seen their huge brick building which is on a bluff that overlooks Northeast Spokane.
Finally, yesterday, some friends and I took a tour of the almost 100-year-old building. Here is our view from different perspectives.
Good Golly: To be honest, I had no idea what to expect when I showed up. The only thing I really knew about St. Michael's were the fabulous Singing Nuns. I was surprised. I had no idea that Mount St. Michael's is still a functioning school and parish. We got an impromptu concert by the 5th and 6th graders, got a glimpse of what life in the convent was like and were told more history about the property than I could have ever imagined.
K. Diddy: Growing up going to a Catholic Church, I've come to know what to expect from stained glass windows and cool designs. But Mount St. Michael's was different. My jaw nearly dropped after Mrs. Anne Marie Netzel, our tour guide, told us it took 2.5 million bricks to build the building (this, after my guess of 13,000 was deemed waaaay off). And this was in the early 1900's! On a hill! That's determination.
The sisters were all nice and very down to Earth. I pictured my mom in full habit - stay with me here - because when she was in grade school at her Catholic school, she wanted to be a nun. Of course, the fact that I'm writing this shows how that dream turned out.
Good Golly: You know, I was intrigued by the architecture and the building. Almost everything is original with the exception of a new elevator and some chapel décor.
Multiple times I felt as if I were in Europe. I was reminded of the many historic monasteries, schools, and churches I visited in France. It was kind of refreshing to see people in our community embracing such rich tradition and living without many of the modern amenities we all, including myself, are used to.
Ok, the most interesting fact I learned...Mount St. Michael's only turns the heat on a couple times a day because it's so expensive due to the way their Boiler heat system was built. How expensive you might ask? How would you like to pay a $15,000 monthly heat bill? No, that isn't a misprint.
K. Diddy: The most interesting tidbit I learned during my visit was that Father Cataldo is buried at the cemetery there. Father Cataldo is a very important person in Spokane's history, and he is literally responsible for the foundation at Mount St. Michael's. Being a history buff, this moved me to try and gain more information (which means I looked him up on Wikipedia).
Mount St. Michael's has arguably the best view of Spokane - both the city and countryside. I was so impressed with the welcome the Sister's presented us with. If you're wondering, you too would be welcomed. The staff, Sisters and students love to share their mission and history with anyone willing to listen. Trust me, it's worth the short drive...just be careful in the snow, it wouldn't be difficult to get stuck.