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The Spring Meeting of the American Catholic Historical Association, March 15-16, 2002

Report of the Planning Committee

For the first time in its long history, the Association held its spring meeting on the campus of the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon. The University had invited the Association to meet on its campus as part of its centennial celebration as Oregon's Catholic university. A total of 105 people from various parts of the United States, as well as from Australia, Canada, and England registered. There were twenty-one sessions with a total of fifty-seven papers presented over the two days of the meeting.

The program was put together over a two-year-long period by a Planning Committee consisting of James Connelly, C.S.C., Donald Stabrowski, C.S.C., and Claire Valente, all of the University of Portland, Cyril Drnjevic, O.S.B., of Mount Angel Abbey in St. Benedict, Oregon,Alberta Dieker, O.S.B., the president of the Oregon Catholic Historical Society, John Scott, O.S.B., of St. Martin's College in Lacey, Washington, Patricia Killen of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, and Maureen Nutting of North Seattle Community College. A call for papers was personally issued at the 2001 spring meeting in Toronto. There was also a notice in the Association's journal, a letter to the membership of the Association, and personal invitations to historians from members of the committee. Out-of-town participants were housed at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in downtown Portland and chartered bus service to and from the campus was provided.

Twelve people took advantage of a daylong tour of Catholic sites in the Columbia and Willamette River valleys on Thursday, March 15, that began at Fort Vancouver, the reconstructed site of the Hudson Bay Company's trading post, where the first Mass in the Pacific Northwest was offered in 1838. From there, the tour proceeded to St. James Church in Vancouver, Washington, formerly the cathedral of what is now the Archdiocese of Seattle, and thence to Mount Angel, Oregon, by way of Oregon City, the site of the metropolitan see established in 1846, the first in the western United States and the second in the country. After visiting the Benedictine monasteries of men and women in Mount Angel and a hearty lunch replete with a glass of Ale Mary at the Mount Angel Brewing Company, the tour proceeded to St. Paul, Oregon, in the French Prairie area, the site of the first parish in Oregon, founded in 1839. Mr. George Brown, attired as a French Canadian trapper, met the tour at St. Paul and related the circumstances in which two priests, Francis Norbert Blanchet and Modeste Demers, had come from Quebec to minister to the trappers, who worked for the Hudson Bay Company, and their Native American wives. From St. Paul the tour proceeded to the Trappist abbey at Lafayette, Oregon, and thence back to Portland.

The program was divided into four tracks: (A) Oregon and the West; (B) American Catholicism; (C) Medieval and Early Modem Europe; and (D) Modem European, World, Catholic Historiography, and Other. While participants were free to move from track to track, the sessions for each track were always held in the same room in Franz Hall on the campus. Not every track had a session in one of the six time slots on the program.

Track A began with two consecutive sessions on the Benedictines in the Pacific Northwest. Session I A, "Three Voices in the Wilderness: Benedictine Beginnings in the Pacific Northwest,"was chaired by Joel Rippinger, O.S.B., Marmion Abbey, Aurora, Illinois. The presenters were: Cyril Drnjevic, O.S.B., Mount Angel Abbey,"Mt.Angel Abbey:A Refuge in America"; Evangela Bossert, O.S.B., Monastery of St. Gertrude, Cottonwood, Idaho,"From Swiss Cloister to American Frontier"; Alberta Dicker, O.S.B., Queen of Angels Monastery, Mount Angel, Oregon,"A Different Voice." The comment was given by the chair and those attending the session. …