Father Joseph M. Cataldo

Father Joseph M. Cataldo’s long northwest missionary career began with his assignment to the Coeur d’Alene’s Sacred Heart Mission in 1865. However, much of his life’s work was dedicated to the Nez Perce as he was a key figure in the establishment of the St. Joseph’s Mission near Lewiston, Idaho. Skilled in linguistics, he was reputedly fluent in over 20 different languages. Cataldo succeeded Father DeSmet as superior of the Rocky Mountain Mission and established his headquarters at the Sacred Heart Mission in 1877. It was a position he held for sixteen years, during which he worked to expand missionary activities in the region. He also placed a large emphasis on establishing educational institutions, including Gonzaga College. Placement of a nearby railroad station dubbed Cataldo in his honor led to the church becoming known as the Old Mission at Cataldo, or Cataldo Mission.