In Your Midst

The Pew Next to You

April 2008

Meet Carl Natelli, Rose Circo, and Mal & Elaine Moran

Carl Natelli with Sr. Claudette and Greg LaneTwo places to catch up with Carl Natelli—ten o’clock mass at St. James, west side, north aisle, second row, third seat from the center or at coffee hour following the ten o’clock mass surrounded by friends and others, likely in lively conversation about the church and the world. Carl will celebrate his 95th birthday on May 16.

Carl first came to the cathedral to sing with Dr. Palmer in the 1932’s and played the Cathedral organ during World War II. Carl said he has special memories for Dr. Palmer and Monsignor Stafford. “Monsignor Stafford was a great man, but was kicked out of the Cathedral by Bishop Shaughnessy.”

“Some things I liked about the old church, but change is better,” Carl said.

In the early 60’s Carl helped build, design, and pay for the organ at St. Edward’s Church in Rainier Valley.

Carl, who lives independently on First Hill, continues to read church-related and other topical books and engage in lively conversation about a wide variety of topics. In recent years, fellow parishioner and Eucharistic minister Greg Lane has given Carl a lift to church and to many of the organ concerts at St. James.

Happy Birthday, Carl!

Alison Warp

Rose CircoRose Circo has been a parishioner of St. James Cathedral for a long time.  In fifty-four years she’s seen a lot of changes—four Archbishops, three pastors, and a community that went from 2,500 families down to 800 and back again, as the demographics of the neighborhood have changed through the decades.

Rose has remained constant because, “St. James is my life.  My second home.  I love the church here.  My family when they would visit would always say, ‘We understand why you love it here!’”

Rose is the seventh of eight children.  “There were ten of us—eight children, mother and dad.  I’m the only one left.”  Rose came from Omaha, Nebraska, in 1954 to visit a friend.  She stayed for six weeks, looking for a job.  Not finding one she was all set to go back to Omaha when she was hired by the telephone company.  She stayed thirty-one years, working in the office, retiring in 1985.

During all that time (except for two years when she lived in a boarding house to save money to put her brother through college), Rose has been a resident of First Hill.  “The moment he graduated, I moved right back downtown,” she says.

She remembers Bishop Gill well, and the Cathedral as it looked when she first arrived, with pews stretching all the way up to the altar on the east end.  “I remember when we’d go to the O’Dea gym.  I can still remember all the people who sat around me.”  And she remembers getting a secret sneak peek at the renovated Cathedral thanks to sacristan Jim Johnson.  She’s watched the parish change, too.  “It used to be all grown ups,” she says.  Now there’s an abundance of families and children.

Rose has been involved in many ministries at St. James.  For many years, she helped prepare receptions for funerals, making coffee and cookies.  She became an E.M. thanks to the encouragement of Sister Claudette, and still serves as an E.M. and altar server on Saturday evenings.

She’s also traveled around the world on goodwill expeditions through InConTra, Inc., whose goal is to spread Christmas cheer to the needy—especially handicapped children—all over the world.  Rose has visited England, Ireland, Scotland, Chile, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, India, Africa, France, Turkey, and Greece!

“I’ve really enjoyed my life,” Rose says.  “I’ve got nothing to complain about.”

She adds: “I’m turning 85 this year. Maybe I’ll slow down a bit.”

Maria Laughlin

Mal & Elaine MoranFor Cathedral parishioners Mal and Elaine Moran, a vacation in Central America became a call to service of the poorest of the poor.  Shortly after joining St. James Cathedral Parish in 2004, Mal and Elaine were on vacation in Belize.  Noted for its snorkeling (both Mal and Elaine love to snorkel), as well as its caves, rain forest, and the second biggest barrier reef in the world, Belize (British Honduras until its independence in 1981), is also unique among Central American countries in that English is the primary language.

While traveling through the country, Mal and Elaine saw terrible poverty first-hand.  “People living in thrown-together homes, wearing clothes that were nothing but tatters.”  It was celebrating Mass with a very poor community that was the turning point.  “We went to Mass in a little town called Dangriga,” says Mal.  “It was then that we turned to each other and said, ‘There must be something we can do to help.’”

Back home, after vain efforts to connect with the parish priest in Dangriga, they were able to connect with Jesuit Father Dick Perl, pastor of St. Peter Claver Church in Punta Gorda.  Punta Gorda, with 6,000 inhabitants, is the largest town in the southern part of Belize.  He was happy to help them help the poor of Belize, and suggested that an immediate need was library books for schools.

Elaine was a member of the Ecumenical Commission of the Archdiocese of Seattle at the time.  She was able to tap some of her connections from the commission (including Sister Joyce Cox, acting Superintendent of Schools) and within a month—with a lot of help from Catholic Schools around the Archdiocese—had collected 1,000 books.
This was the beginning of New World Villages (, an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is “to work to increase the educational level, health, and human dignity of impoverished people living in the Americas.”  New World Villages has been able to take advantage of the strong Catholic presence already in Belize—a large network of schools and social services, both to determine the greatest need and help get it to those who need it most.

Their biggest project to date has been the creation of four computer labs this past summer.  Acquiring matching grants from a variety of sources helped Mal and Elaine turn $2,000 into $25,000.  “With that money we were able to purchase 80 refurbished computers along with fax machines, scanners, digital cameras, and printers,” Mal says.
Then came the hard part:  renting a 40-foot shipping container, packing it full of computers as well as 40 school desks and an abundance of medical supplies, and sending it off to Belize.  The container went from Seattle to New York, from New York by boat to Jamaica, and from Jamaica to Belize.

Meanwhile, Elaine had been diagnosed with breast cancer and waited anxiously for the container to arrive in Belize so she could supervise its arrival between surgery and the beginning of radiation treatments.  With assistance from local volunteers, after some long, hot days in July, the four labs were up and running.  “The children could hardly wait to get their hands on those computers,” Elaine remembers.  And once the labs were up and running, Mal and Elaine still had time to get some snorkeling in!

Mal and Elaine are both “cradle Catholics,” from large families.  They have three boys between them, ages 20, 18, and 16.  And they both love St. James.  “I’ve experienced wonderful healing here,” Elaine says.  And Mal adds, “When I look up and see those words, I am in your midst as one who serves, above the altar, that thing speaks so loudly.  What bigger message could there be?  If you want to be Christ like, there’s no better place to start.”

Their next project?  Pig farms.  Building pigpens will be a new experience, but Mal and Elaine are ready for it.

Maria Laughlin


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