Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana
The Jesuits answer the call to be "at the frontiers" through their direction of the Rocky Mountain Mission, a collection of 12 parishes that serve Native American communities both on the reservation and off. Jesuits minister in companionship with Natives to respond to the Gospel’s call for love, hope and justice. The Rocky Mountain Mission serves three distinct cultural regions in the Pacific Northwest: Plains, Plateau and Coastal cultures.
In 1839 a delegation of Salish Flatheads from the Bitterroot Valley in Montana journeyed East to petition for Jesuit priests. They encountered Fr. Peter De Smet, S.J., in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and convinced him to come to the Flatheads. Upon arriving in the West in 1840, Fr. De Smet was so impressed with the eagerness of the Flatheads and their background in Christianity that he returned shortly to St. Louis to obtain other priests and financial support for the founding of Catholic missions in the Rocky Mountain West.
When De Smet returned in 1841, he found many of the Western tribes eager to have their own missions and to gain the spiritual benefits of the priests' religion. In rapid succession, Fr. De Smet and his fellow missionaries founded large mission establishments — "mother missions" — among the Flatheads in 1841, the Coeur d'Alenes in 1842, the Kalispels in 1844 and the Colvilles in 1845.
In later years, permanent mission churches and schools were also developed with other tribes as part of the Jesuits' Rocky Mountain Mission: the Blackfeet in 1862, Spokanes in 1866, Yakimas Assiniboines in 1885 and the Crows and the Okanogans in 1887. (Banner image of Sacred Heart Mission, De Smet, Idaho; images via http://ficbrothers.org