Celebrating the Legacy of a Yakima Pastor - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Celebrating the Legacy of a Yakima Pastor

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YAKIMA, Wash.--People were celebrating more than Cinco De Mayo Sunday in the Yakima Valley. They were also commemorating one man's legacy.

More than 200 people got to their feet when Monsignor John Ecker walked into the room.

Parishioners threw a surprise party inside the St. Paul Cathedral School Gym. It was a triple celebration for Monsignor Ecker's 80 birthday, his 55 years as a priest and 25 years as Pastor of St. Paul Cathedral.

During a ministry conference this year, he was honored as the oldest acting pastor of a cathedral in the United States.

The pastor came to Yakima in the late 1950's and his parishioners said he's been making people feel loved and at home ever since.

"It takes him walking in a room and he inspires many," said parishioner Cathy Kloster. "He touches peoples lives and he's the most encouraging person that you could ever be around, and that's why we have this many people right now coming in."

Kids from the Fifth Grade School Choir, adults from the Cathedral Choir and even a mariachi band serenaded Monsignor Ecker with his favorite songs.

Parishioners said the honoree has not only affected the Catholic community, but also the lives of many others in the Yakima Valley.