Our Mission Church - St. Catherine of Alexandria
In November, 1838, Father Blanchet and Father Devers arrived in Fort Vancouver, Washington. About the middle of December, 1843, Father Blanchet went by canoe to the Cowlitz Prairie and there, celebrated the first Mass. This would be the start of the Franciscans at the Cowlitz Mission. The first Catholic church at Cathlamet was built by Father Richards, OFM, from St. Francis Mission on the Cowlitz Prairie, on land donated by Mr. Birnie.
It was dedicated in 1871 by Bishop Blanchet in honor of St. Charles Borromeo. Unfortunately, most of the records pertaining to this period were destroyed in a fire at the Cowlitz Mission in 1901. Thus, little is known about how long this first small church was used, but we do know that services were held about 1898 in the Cooper home, and later in the Doumit Hall. Later, Father George, who served the Cathlamet mission at the same time, secured $500 from the Extension Society, which made building a new church possible with the aid of John Schauble and his brother from Kalama. This church was dedicated in 1910 in honor of St. Catherine of Alexandria, and the community was served by Franciscan fathers from the Cowlitz Prairie Mission, who traveled by boat. Franciscan priests served the mission until 1941, when Bishop Gerald Shaughnessy appointed the first diocesan priest to Longview.
In 1927, St. Rose de Viterbo was established in Longview, some twenty-five miles upriver, and St. Catherine was attached to this new parish. In 1987 the mission was detached from St. Rose to be served by the pastor of St. Mary's in Castle Rock. Then, in 1995, with the realignment of parishes and missions, Archbishop Murphy again established the historical link between St. Rose and St. Catherine by appointing the pastor of St. Rose to serve the mission. In 1950, a balcony was built in the rear of the church; then in 1980, the old church was renovated and a completely new section was added to provide additional seating and facilities for a social hall; also included was a priest's room, kitchen, and restrooms. St. Catherine celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2010 with Archbishop Brunett.
St. Catherine is a small but thriving community with a wonderful nature and hospitable spirit. Parishioners know one another and care for one another. Mass and the occasional Word and Communion Service take place every Saturday at 5:00 p.m.