Msgr. Greg Moys
Msgr. Greg Moys
" The stories are what carry us forward.

" Joe Schiwek, archivist of the Archdiocese of Portland and vice president of the Oregon Catholic Historical Society
With the end of the Catholic Sentinel and El Centinela, local Catholic historians fear the local Catholic story may fade.

“Not as many people are doing history anymore,” said Msgr. Greg Moys, a former archdiocesan chancellor, pastor and now president of the Oregon Catholic Historical Society.

Some of the great Oregon Catholic historians have died, including Bishop Francis Leipzig, Jesuit Father Wilfred Schoenberg, Holy Cross Father Joseph Browne, Benedictine Sister Alberta Dieker, Patricia Brandt, Lillian Pereyra and Joe McKay. No books on Oregon Catholic history have been published in decades.

Msgr. Moys said the work of the historical society now is more important than ever. He is urging Catholics to join to keep history alive before it’s too late. There is a twice annual newsletter with historical articles and periodic speakers.

Msgr. Moys wants history to be living, not merely maintained. He hopes for young Catholic historians to start making contributions.

“If we don’t write our history, who will?” he said.

As a tool for budding historians, the searchable online archives of the Sentinel and El Centinela going back to 1870 are available at Sentinel editor Ed Langlois has vowed to make sure the link is prominent and preserved on the Archdiocese of Portland website and perhaps elsewhere. The online archives are free for anyone to use with just that web address. Langlois also will work to find a suitable home for two sets of bound volumes of the Sentinel and El Centinela.

The closure of the papers is not Msgr. Moys’ only concern. With the move of Archdiocese of Portland offices to the campus of St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the coming years, Msgr. Moys has been reminding archdiocesan leaders to make sure that there is ample, safe and accessible space for the archdiocese’s archives.

Joe Schiwek, archivist of the archdiocese and vice president of the historical society, reported that he has been promised as much space as he now has at the East Burnside pastoral center. Schiwek, a member since the historical society’s founding in 1988, also urges Catholics to join.

“My sense of history, and admiration for all that has taken place here in nearly 200 years, has greatly increased,” Schiwek said. “I feel that preservation, and diffusion of the knowledge of our past is of the utmost importance.”

Schiwek said the story of the local church is not just dusty names and dates, but tales of our ancestors — good, bad and even humorous.

“It is time for the younger generations to step up and take over from the old-timers like me and continue our story into the future,” Schiwek said. “If this sounds like a rallying-cry, it is. It would be sad and a great loss if our past were forgotten. The stories are what carry us forward.”