Early History of Holy Spirit Mission
In 1971, when the Southern area of Washoe County was still a predominantly rural area, the Diocese dedicated a small mission church in an area known - Washoe Valley. In those days, the whole of Washoe County contained only 121,000 people. Holy Spirit Mission was a metal building that had served as a commercial engineering shop and was then donated to the Diocese. This little mission was originally served from a parish in Carson City.
As the years went by, St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Carson City grew and it was no longer possible to spare a priest to go to Washoe Valley so its care was transferred to the new parish of Corpus Christi, also in Carson City. Corpus Christi was a small parish that had been formed originally to serve the needs of the students at the Stewart Indian School. When the Federal Government changed its approach to the education of Native American children, the school was closed. Corpus Christi remained to serve the small population of the area that is still known as Stewart. The growth of Carson City continued and the number of parishioners at Corpus Christi and St. Teresa"s continued to grow. No one from Carson City was available to care for Holy Spirit Mission and it was closed for a number of years. The people of the area still tried to maintain the church in hopes that they would have another priest to serve their needs.
Eventually Father Vincent, a retired priest of the Diocese, took on the task of serving Washoe Valley. He traveled out to the mission each week for Mass. The building itself began to fall into disrepair since neither the mission nor the Diocese had the funds to maintain it and no one knew whether or not it would remain in use. When Father Vincent was no longer able to care for the mission, it was closed again.
In 1996 as the population of the County reached 305,000 people, Bishop Phillip Straling established a new parish in South Reno. St. Rose of Lima Parish was formed to serve the rapidly developing community. St. Rose of Lima had no facilities in which to gather or celebrate the liturgy. Sunday Mass was celebrated in a nearby public school but the facility was only available for use on Sunday mornings. As St. Rose Parish Council and pastor began to plan and look for options, Holy Spirit Mission, though small, was given a new lease on life. It could be used for Saturday evening Masses and provide a place to celebrate weddings and funerals even though it was too small for use on Sunday morning.
The building was in a state of disrepair and the grounds had never been developed. Located on only a small plot of land and with no possibility of expansion for St. Rose of Lima Parish, the mission would never be able to serve the permanent needs of this new parish but it could serve as a temporary base.
"Perhaps it was the Holy Spirit who worked to assure that this little church named in His honor would remain, more beautiful than before, to serve the People of God in Western Nevada." The above quote and the early history of Holy Spirit Mission were taken from a pamphlet, "The History of Holy Spirit Mission". published by the Frontier of Faith, a missionary effort of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Reno.
The First Tridentine Latin Mass Celebrated in Nevada
The first Tridentine Latin Mass to be celebrated in Nevada, post Vatican II, was at a chapel built by the Le Sage Family, in Silver Springs. The chapel named Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament came to be born out of love, conviction and dedication to the Latin Tridentine Mass
In 1980, after Frank Le Sage placed rocks in front of the Chapel in the form of a cross, Father Flannigan blessed the property.
The first Tridentine Latin Mass was celebrated by Father Avela in August of 1983, before the Chapel was completed. The Chapel was completed in 1987. Father Bengal donated artifacts from the first altar of St. Mary's in Virginia City along with the life size statutes of the angels. There were approximately one hundred members.
In 1990 after the Bishop of Reno announced that Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament was not with Rome, the membership dwindled. In 1991, the Chapel was reinstated, Father Viegas became the new pastor under the Diocese of Reno. After Father Viegas left, Father Gallager, from St. Robert Bellarmines in Femley, was appointed to service Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament as a Mission Chapel.
Mr. Jack Scholz, who moved to Reno in 1991, was interested in the Tridentine Latin Mass. In 1996, he asked Bishop Straling for formal approval to celebrate the Tridentine Latin Mass in the Reno Diocese. His approval was granted on the basis that a priest would be available to say the Mass.
Mr. Scholz donated money to improve the chapel, Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Silver Springs. Mr. Scholz was friends with Father Cyril Apassa when he lived in Los Angeles. He asked Father Apassa if he would be interested in saying the Tridentine Latin Mass in Silver Springs. In July of 1996, Father Cyril Apassa, who was from Nigeria, was appointed the new Mission Priest, and celebrated Mass at Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament in 1997. Mr. Scholz sent Father Apassa to the University of San Francisco where Father received his doctorate. Father Apassa was under the direction of the Bishop of Nigeria until the year 2006, when he was incardinated into the Diocese of Reno.
Because the Chapel in Silver Springs was too far for most Washoe County people to attend, and since it was located on private land, the Chapel in Silver Springs was no longer approved by Bishop Straling, therefore, Mr. Scholz had to look elsewhere for a building. The Chapel in Silver Springs is still open to the public and anyone is welcomed to visit at any time.
Mr. Scholz had the option of choosing Washoe Valley, or a church on Highway 80. He also tried to get the Immaculate Conception Church, but the cost of renovation was too high.
Bishop Straling offered the Holy Spirit Mission church which was not being used at the time other than for some special purposes.
Present History of The Tridentine Latin Mass at Holy Spirit Mission
Mr. Scholz was very interested in the growth of the Church in Western Nevada. He was willing to take on the responsibility of making Holy Spirit Mission usable and attractive. It was soon discovered that in order to bring the old mission building up to code, a major overhaul would be needed. In essence, the building was stripped down to the metal frame and then reconstructed. The result is a mission church that is structurally sound and very beautiful: more than suitable to the celebration of the Mass.
In the years 1995 and 1996, Mr. Scholz had the entire church renovated, and had the landscaping redone. The only thing left in the church which were not replaced are the organ and the cement pad. He extended the building by 20 feet to allow for a sacristy and proper altar placement, built bathrooms, replaced heating and air conditioning, windows, the roof, windows, etc. The parking lot was raised and the rock wall was installed to accommodate better parking. The landscaping was completely redone. The sign in front was added. The pews came from a convent in Chicago, which was closed, and were completely refurbished in Wisconsin and shipped to Reno. He also had an artist from Los Angeles paint the mural behind the altar. The mural depicts the vision Sister Lucy of Fatima had around 1937. It is slightly changed as there was not enough room to depict the vision exactly. All of the religious items, tabernacle, vestments, angels on the altar and the crucifix were hand carved in Austria. The stain glass windows were done by a company in Reno.
In light of the papal indult of October 1984, Bishop Phillip Straling approved the celebration of the 1962 Ordo Missae within the Diocese of Reno with the stipulation that the celebrations take place at Holy Sprit Mission in Washoe Valley, NY. Father Apassa was appointed by Bishop Phillip Straling, as Parochial Vicar of St. Rose of Lima Parish to serve the Tridentine Rite community at Holy Spirit Mission, effective July 29, 1997. On February 28, 2007, Bishop Randolph Calvo continued Father Apassa's appointment, and granted the same permission as Bishop Straling.
Holy Spirit Mission became a mission of St. Rose of Lima parish, with Father Tom Donnelly as its Pastor and Father Cyril Apassa as its Parochial Vicar. Since Father Donnelly's retirement, Father Larry Morrison became the new Pastor of St. Rose of Lima parish and Holy Spirit Mission.
Some of the members who attended the Mass at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Silver Springs became members of Holy Spirit Mission. Frank and Barbara La Sage, owners of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament chapel, are also members of Holy Spirit Mission.
After the first week of Father Apassa's celebrating the Tridentine Mass at Holy Spirit Mission, Mr. Scholz asked Mary Pat Thompson to begin a bulletin for the church. Mary Pat faithfully did so for ten years. She retired, because of illness, after her October 22, 2006 bulletin was published. Mary Pat was also of great help to Father Apassa through her years of service. Enola White took over from Mary Pat with the publication of the October 29, 2006 bulletin.
The church choir was organized and led by Kathy Reinheimer in September of 2002. About the same time, Mark Dorio became the organist. At present Kathy leads six choir members, Sylvia Czyz, Judith Dragon, Anne Marie Dixon, Kim Pilant, Rachel Slagel and Pat Blasius.
The Church Council was organized by Andy Scholz, son of Jack Scholz, in 1999. At present the council consists of seven members, Tom Czyz, Sylvia Czyz, Tommy Czyz, Anne Marie Dixon, Judith Dragon, Phillip LaPoint, and Enola White.
The Finance Council was organized at the same time as he Church Council, but was not fully active until June of this year. It consists of three members, Tom Czyz, Anne Marie Dixon and Enola White.
On June 2, 2007, Father Apassa began religious instructions. Instructions are held on the first and third Saturday of each month. All children of Holy Spirit Mission are welcome to attend.
In the past we have had Father Gardner, from the Institute of Christ the King, replace Father Apassa when Father was not available. Recently, Bishop Calvo has requested that we use the priests in the Diocese to take Father Apassa's place when he is not available to say the Tridentine Latin Mass. The priests who say the Latin Mass in the Diocese are Father Tom Donnelly, Father Albert Fosselman, who is retired and resides in Reno, Father Angeles DeLeon from Carson City. Father Apassa has also mentioned a seminarian who is planning to be ordained in the Latin Rite.
Maintenance of the church is ongoing. The parking lot was paved about four years ago. The church was painted in September of 2005. The lawn is being maintained on a weekly basis during the Spring and Summer months, and in the Winter months, we have a contract for snow removal.
As of this date (circa 2008), we have 139 registered members, including children. There are 71 families registered.
Many thanks for oral and written contributions to:
Sister Maxine Lavell, from the Diocese of Reno office
Barbara & Frank Le Sage