Sign In


Create an Account
Forgot your password?

Quick Links:    Current State Bulletin  -   Calendar of Events  -   Search for a Council  -   Find your District Deputy  -   Search for an Assembly  -   Columbus Charities  -   Country Store  

State Warden 2022 - 2023

Picture of State Warden

David Olwell

March 2023

My Brother Knights,

When I was growing up, the Archdiocese of Seattle ran both a major and minor seminary on Lake Washington, in what is now Saint Edwards state park. Now the only minor seminary in the State is in Spokane, Bishop White Seminary, where 14 men study at Gonzaga while living in community across the street from campus. The men come from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California as there are very few minor seminaries in the west anymore.  When they graduate, if their vocation persists, they will be placed in a major seminary to study theology and prepare for ordination.

The closest major seminary is Mount Angel in Oregon, run by the Order of Saint Benedict. Mount Angel is one of two major seminaries used by the Archdiocese of Seattle and enrolls six men from the Archdiocese of Seattle.  The other three are at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois.

The Diocese of Spokane has two major seminarians, one at Mount Angel and one at Saint Patrick’s in Menlo Park, CA.

The Diocese of Yakima has four major seminarians, two at Mundelein and two at Seminario Hispano De Santa Maria De Guadalupe in Mexico.

In total, there are fourteen men in major seminaries for the future support of the 144  parishes in the Archdiocese of Seattle, 45 parishes in the Diocese of Yakima, and 82 parishes in the Diocese of Spokane.  This is not enough future priests to support the known needs of the state, and the shortage of priests is the primary reason for consolidation parishes underway in the Archdiocese of Seattle.

What needs to be done?  We need more priests.  To get more priests, we need more men in formation.  Minor seminaries are important parts of formation, the critical first steps.  Bishop White is our local minor seminary.  It is a vital part of the effort to grow the number of priests in the state. 

There are also fraternal considerations.  We have a college council (12583) at Gonzaga, sponsored by the Bishop White Seminary.  Most of the council officers are seminarians at Bishop White.  I am the district deputy for that council and attended a council meeting there in February.

Bishop White hosted me, and offered me room and board with them. It is a bit more spartan than a college residence hall! The chapel is the center of the seminary daily routine, with the seminarians following the Liturgy of the Hours. I joined them for dinner, then vespers, followed by a Knight of Columbus meeting on the Gonzaga Campus. The conversation at dinner was very good and we talked a great deal about the state of K-12 Catholic education and what the long-term strategies for the Church might be. One of the seminarians was completely home-schooled and learned his faith not from a parish school or CCD program but completely from his parents – a sign of the times.

For Catholics worried about vocations to the priesthood, as I am and you should be, this was a mostly reassuring visit. The seminarians are good men, serious about their studies and actively discerning their vocation. The diocese of Spokane has made a huge talent investment, placing two outstanding priests to run the seminary. The Jesuits have contributed a third retired priest. That’s three priests for 14 young men - a major bet on the future when there are so many current needs for priests in parishes now.  The only concern is the number of seminarians.  The state needs more men willing to explore a vocation to the priesthood. 

Fr. Dan Barnett is the rector of Bishop White, and also chaplain for the Gonzaga College Council 12583 . A graduate of Gonzaga, he has been a knight since he was 18. His chaplain remarks at the council meeting parallel the approach the Church is taking to vocations. He told the knights to not recruit other men to be knights just for numbers, but to live their lives on campus and conduct their council programs in such a way as to inspire others to want to be associated with their efforts. I was very pleased to meet him again.

It bears saying that it is in the interest of the Knights that seminarians participate in College councils and understand immediately the role that councils play in parishes, and in particular our commitment to support our priests and bishops. 

Bishop White Seminary has been raising funds for the renovation of McGivney Hall for the Cor Christi program, which will serve men in the critical “propaedeutic” first year.  During that year, men “detox” from the main culture and focus on Christ.  (It reminds me of my first “plebe” year at West Point.)  Its purpose is to form strong Catholic men in the heart of Christ, so that they have a solid foundation for their journey through seminary.

The Knights are called to support the development of McGivney Hall.  We have given much; they need more.  I encourage all of the Councils and Knights in the State to consider again further donations to their fundraising.

I hope you had a meaningful Ash Wednesday and that your Lenten prayer, fasting, and almsgiving move you closer to Our Lord. 

Vivat Jesus!



Dave Olwell
State Warden