Jesuit Puget Sound
Puget Sound Ignatian Family
Jesuits have been in the Seattle-Tacoma area since 1891. The small boy's school of St. Francis Hall - at the corner of 6th Avenue and Spring in Seattle - had only just been built by Fr. F.X. Prefontaine when it was turned over to the Holy Names Sisters and the Jesuits. At the request of Bishop Junger, the nascent school was to be incorporated into a brand new parish to be erected at the corner of Broadway and Madison - more than 1/2 mile away, necessitating a move. Formally established on September 12, 1891, Immaculate Conception was Seattle's third parish. The honors of getting Jesuit Puget Sound off the ground fell to Frs. Victor Garrand, SJ and Adrian Sweere, SJ, who were 15 days late for the opening ceremony, having crossed the mountains from Yakima. However, they wasted no time constructing new buildings and by 1894 Mass was being celebrated in the newly built parish church.
Both the parish and the school grew over the next 25 years, with lots of changes. The parish community built and occupied its present site at the summit of 18th Avenue while the Jesuits jumped at the generous offer of T.C. McHugh to fund the school acquiring and moving to the campus of the failing Adelphi College, the present site of Seattle Preparatory School. St. Joseph Parish and School was established in 1907, in close proximity to the new location of Holy Names Academy. The current St. Joseph Church was built in 1930 and the next year the Jesuits returned to Broadway and Madison, as Seattle College separated itself from the high school, which became officially Seattle Preparatory School in 1933.
The Jesuits arrived in Tacoma in 1911 when Fr. John Cunningham, SJ became the pastor of St. Leo Parish. With the help of Franciscan sisters, the parish opened a grade school the following year. St. Rita's opened ten years later, as an Italian National Church within the boundaries of St. Leo. A few years later, in 1928, Bellarmine Preparatory School was founded by Fr. David McAstocker, SJ. When the Great Depression hit, St. Leo began its work of feeding the hungry, a tradition that continues today through the St. Leo Food Connection.
The history of Jesuit Puget Sound is rich and dynamic. As the region has grown, so have our ministries and today our Ignatian collaborative mission includes St. Joseph Parish and School, St. Leo Parish, St. Rita Parish, Seattle Preparatory School, Bellarmine Preparatory School, Seattle University, Seattle Nativity School, the Ignatian Spirituality Center, SEEL (Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life) Puget Sound, and, along with other religious organizations, we co-sponsor the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center. In addition to sponsored works, Jesuits and our collaborators are involved in the Ignatian Spirituality Project, the Sacred Story Institute, and JVC Northwest.