Mission in Nespelem

Group of First Communion Children

Father Edward Griva and a group of children who attended the first communion.

Nespelem Sacred Heart Mission

Father Edward Griva and Indians in Nesoelem

Interior of Sacred Heart Church

Interior of Sacred Heart Church

Bishop and Two Girls at Sacred Heart Mission, Nespelem

Two Native American girls and Father Edward Griva standing in front of building

Group of Indian Children

A group of Native American children standing in front of the Sacred Heart Mission of Nespelem

Sacred Heart Church from Nespelem Town Center

photograph of Sacred Heart Church from the middle of the street in the town of Nespelem

Father Edward Griva visited Nespelem to instruct Indians in the doctrine of the Catholic religion and hold religious cerebrations. At the time around 1910-1930, Father Griva visited several regions around Nespelem to missionize Indians living in those regions. While he was facing several difficulties, he heartily engaged in his mission such as holding mass and communions, baptizing Indians, teaching a catechism, and building churches.

When Father Griva first arrived at Nespelem, Indians were poorly instructed in the doctorine of Catholic religion and almost all of them had become indifferent in religion. Father Griva started working on building church and holding catholic ceremonies such as mass and communion as well as baptizing Indians. Indians were open to accepting new religion and practices. Father Griva notes that since his arrival, 119 Indians were baptized; moreover, the priest starts assisting at the marriage and occasions when people passed away. This means their underlying view on these life events such as marriage and death was influenced by white people’s culture.

One of his great accomplishment was that Father Griva started working on building churches in Nespelem and the surrounding areas. At the very beginning, he did not even have a place to stay. Despite cold weathers, Father Griva did not give up his mission and eventually a Catholic built a hut for him, and he started holding mass in the small hut. After a while, a church was built, and Father Griva held the first Holy Communion on the approaching feast of Corpus Christ in 1916. He notes, “very many Indians came to this church” to attend mass and other ceremonial events (Edward Griva, "Missions of the Sacred Heart at Nespelem," Vol. 48, 1919 pg 72).