A Priest of Their Own

St. Anne’s Mission welcomes Father E. Iweh

by Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Father Emmanuel Iweh pictured inside St. Anne's Mission located in Tulalip, began his assignment on July 1st. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil

Father Emmanuel Iweh pictured inside St. Anne’s Mission located in Tulalip, began his assignment on July 1st.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil

TULALIP, Wash., – The parish at St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Mission welcomes Reverend Father Emmanuel Iweh, of the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, as its resident priest. Father Iweh’s addition marks the first time the Mission has had a priest requested to live and work in the Tulalip community, by the parish, since the parish petitioned the Pope not to reassign Father Chirouse in 1878.


St. Anne’s Mission, founded by Father Eugene Casimir Chirouse, of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, in 1857, was originally a simple log structure near the mouth of the Ebey Slough. It featured a bell and statue of Our Lady that Father Chirouse had brought with him from France. Both are still prominent in the church today.


The Mission, through federal support, became the nation’s first contract Indian school, serving Tulalip youth. It was moved twice, first to Priest Point and later to Tulalip Bay, where it is now located.


In 1878, Father Chirouse was reassigned to a mission in British Columbia, returning to St. Anne’s in 1891, to preside over Chief Seattle’s Requiem Mass. A fire destroyed the mission in 1902, and rebuilt in 1904, where it was operated as a military style school, run by the government until 1932.


The Mission has since received Mass services by a visiting priest through St. Mary’s Church in Marysville, as the Mission is not independent, but rather an extension of St. Mary’s.


A parish meeting, involving Tulalip tribal members Don Hatch Jr. and Bill Topash, petitioned the Archdiocese of Seattle to assign them a permanent priest to service the community’s needs.


Father Iweh, originally from Nigeria, Africa, plans to learn the Tulalip culture to incorporate it into services, as was the practice in Father Chirouse’s time, who learned Lushootseed and routinely incorporated it in to Mass services.


“The church has always been locked through the years and open only for Saturday Mass. But now the church will stay open for people to stop by, pray and visit,” said Father Iweh.


Another milestone the Mission will undergo will be the collaboration of support between pastors of various faiths that

Father Emmanuel Iweh, of the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil

Father Emmanuel Iweh, of the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil

are practiced in the community. Father Iweh hopes to build a relationship, outside funeral services, between the Shaker Church and the Assembly of God to ensure the community needs are met.


“I am excited to be here. I have fallen in love with this place. I am looking forward to serving the Tulalip people and I hope to reach the young and the elderly through a message of love. My expectation for the future is to make St. Anne’s an independent parish,” said Father Iweh.


St. Anne’s Mission serves a parish comprised of over 100 Tulalip tribal members and non-tribal members living within the boundaries of the Tulalip Reservation, and in 1976 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


In addition to 5:30 p.m. Saturday Mass Services, Mass services will also be held on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 9:00 a.m., and Sundays at 10:00 a.m. A Sacrament of Reconciliation service will be held on Saturdays at 4:00 p.m.


St. Anne’s Mission is located at 7231 Totem Beach Road, Tulalip, WA 98271.


Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402-5402; bmontreuil@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov