A MAGAZIN E OF THE SISTERS OF ST. MARY OF OREGON MINISTRIES CORP ORATION FALL 2016 | WINTER 2017
e are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us.” That lyric by songwriter Joyce Johnson Rouse has special meaning to our Community. The moving words and soaring melody accompany images from our history in a video created for our 125th anniversary. From our earliest years, our Sisters have captured their experiences through writing and art. Today, we share moments from our lives through photographs, video and social media. Our Sisters have been featured in books, newspaper articles and magazines. Then why, you might wonder, is this issue of Spirit magazine devoted solely to our history? When people share their experiences, they bring their own perspectives. Memories can become hazy. As we pored through items from our archives – as well as books, newspaper articles and other materials – we found differing versions of events. We also found that pieces of our history were scattered across different resources. Friends and alumni would ask questions, and no one had the answers easily at hand. This special issue of Spirit was created to capture – to the best of our ability – our story across decades. It includes a photo for the ages: our Sisters gathered in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel for Community Days 2016. We’ve also answered some of those frequently asked questions about our Sisters and our campus (including the dome):
• How many women have been Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon? • Who were the youngest and oldest Sisters to enter the Community? • Why do Sisters wear gold rings on their right hands? • Who designed the Motherhouse? • When were the sequoia trees planted? • What is the significance of the stained glass windows in the chapel? • How far is it from the ground in front of the Motherhouse to the top of the cross? • What has the dome been used for over the years?
To complement this issue, we have created an enhanced history section at ssmo.org and shared new videos at youtube.com/valleycatholicschool. Mother Wilhelmina Bleily – one of our foundresses and our first Superior General – wrote: “All the hardships we went through in those early years cannot be easily imagined. With the help of God…we were able to persevere through fire and storm.” As we celebrate 130 years of community care through faith and action, we honor those who came before us. We are proud that our shoulders will be there to hold the ones who follow us.
Sister Charlene Herinckx ’66 Sr. Adele Marie Altenhofen Superior General, Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) President, SSMO Ministries Corporation 2
Table of Contents
4 These Valiant Women: The Sisters of
30 Changing times. Lasting values.
Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Ministries Corporation Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen, President
The award-winning Spirit magazine is published by the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and their sponsored ministries. All rights reserved.
St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) celebrate their 130th anniversary 6 A gift from God: The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon mission and charism 8 Trusting God into the unknown: From the foothills of the Swiss Alps to America’s Midwest 10 The early years in Oregon (1880s and 1890s) 14 A new century. New beginnings. (1900s and 1910s) 18 The power of a name. A Golden Jubilee. (1920s and 1930s) 22 Building for the future (1940s and 1950s) 26 Body, mind and spirit (1960s and 1970s) 28 A centennial celebration for “These Valiant Women” (1980s and 1990s)
Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Sister Charlene Herinckx ’66, Superior General page 22
Editor: Barbara Kerr, APR, Fellow PRSA Designer/Photographer: Todd Sargood Contributors: Ashley Apodaca, Gavin Dunham, Sr. John Therese Miller, Sr. Juliana Monti, Sr. Angeline Sohler ’43, Jeff Szabo
(2000s and 2010s) 34 Who’s who in SSMO history 40 All about the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon 42 A love of learning 48 Compassionate health care 52 Community care through faith and action 56 From the sequoia trees to the top of the dome: The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus 62 Do all to celebrate God: Special events on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus 64 Capturing history in words and images 66 The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon: through the years
Questions, comments or address changes: SSMO Ministries Corporation 4440 SW 148th Avenue Beaverton, OR 97078 503-644-9181 | email@example.com
Special thanks to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon for sharing documents and images from their archives.
We thank the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Dayton, Ohio, for providing an oil painting image of Maria Anna Brunner, their foundress.
The St. Mary’s Home for Boys photo appears courtesy the Washington County Museum. All rights reserved. We also thank St. Mary’s Home for Boys for providing access to their archives.
“Standing on the Shoulders” ©1995 Rouse House Music, ASCAP. All rights reserved.
Copyrighted news articles appear courtesy of The Oregonian. All rights reserved. We extend our appreciation to the Oregon Historical Society for providing high-quality versions of the archived Oregonian articles. We also thank the St. Boniface Community Archives & Museum, which chronicles the history of Sublimity and the surrounding area.
“Ansicht von Schloss Löwenberg” (View of Castle Löwenberg) by Matthias Gabriel Lory (Fils). Circa 1830. Public domain [PD-1923] via Wikimedia Commons. Front cover: Two leather-bound missals from the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon archives reflect their faith and their history. The top missal, dated 1892, is in German. The bottom missal is in Latin (Missale Romanum) and is dated 1876. “In Epiphania Domini” means “Epiphany of the Lord.”
the Sisters of
St. Mary of Oregon
A photo for the ages: the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon during Community Days 2016. A video of the photo session can be found at youtube.com/valleycatholicschool.
A Gift From God The Mission of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon We, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, share in the mission of Jesus by proclaiming the Good News of God’s love. Since their founding, the Sisters have been deeply rooted in the communities in which they have served. Through prayer, education, health care, and outreach, they personify community care through faith and action.
The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Charism A charism is often described as a gift from God for the benefit of others. In the SSMO Community, it is said that a new member “is not taught the charism, she comes with it. That is why she feels at home.” In February 1983, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) came together as a Community to create a charism statement. They invited Sr. Jan Futrell, OSB, and Sr. Dominique Long, SCL, to serve as facilitators. The Sisters were asked to think about the first time they met a member of the SSMO Community and to describe the Sister’s special qualities. Using a list of words and phrases derived from these sessions, the Sisters penned 28 words. In June 1985, those 28 words were included in the Community’s revised Constitutions and Statutes. They form the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon charism.
This depiction of the Sistersâ€™ Charism was created by Fran Sloan in 1995.
This 1834 painting of Maria Anna Brunner was commissioned by her son, Father Francis de Sales Brunner.
Trusting God into the unknown T
o trace the history of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, you must travel back in time hundreds of years and journey around the world from Beaverton, Oregon, to a castle in Switzerland.
FROM THE FOOTHILLS OF THE SWISS ALPS TO AMERICA’S MIDWEST On October 1, 1764, in a small farming village nestled in the foothills of the Swiss Alps, a linen weaver and his wife welcomed a baby girl. When Maria Anna Brunner grew up, she was a loving wife and mother. But after her children were grown and her husband died, she wanted solitude. She found it at Löwenberg Castle, where her son, Father Francis de Sales Brunner, had opened a boarding school for boys. In December 1832, mother and son made a pilgrimage to Rome, where both became devoted to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.
In 1834, Mother Brunner founded the Sisters of the Precious Blood. She died two years later. Across the Atlantic Ocean, the United States was welcoming immigrants from around the world. Many German settlers found their new home in Ohio. Among the settlers in 1843: Father Brunner. Under his leadership, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood became one of the earliest religious congregations of German heritage in the United States. Six months later, they were joined by Sisters of the Precious Blood. In 1866, a dispute within the Precious Blood community led to one of its leaders – Father Joseph Albrecht – leaving Ohio with a group of parishioners, Sisters and Brothers. They eventually settled in Rush Lake, Minnesota. But Father Albrecht’s disputes with the church followed him from Ohio to Minnesota and,
Artist Matthias Gabriel Lory (Fils) created “Ansicht von Schloss Löwenberg,” a view of Löwenberg Castle in Murten, Switzerland, as it appeared at the time it housed Father Brunner’s school for boys. It was leased to Father Brunner for the equivalent of $80 per year.
in 1871, he was excommunicated by the bishop of St. Paul, Minnesota. Becoming more withdrawn and secretive, he groomed three lay trustees to succeed him after his death. Each had at least one daughter among the parishioners. When Father Albrecht died on March 4, 1884, there was no priest to say Mass. With dissension among Father Albrecht’s followers, the trustees sent two men to Oregon to scout the possibility of moving there. On July 24, 1884, Father Albrecht’s body was secretly concealed inside a large packing case and loaded onto a train bound for Oregon. Also on the train: 79 members of the community including a young woman who was an aspirant to the Sisters of the Precious Blood. Her name was Emma Bleily.
1880s & 1890s
The cradle of our Community: Father Wernher Ruettimann, OSB, (pictured) was the first resident priest in Sublimity. He turned the building, formerly a college, into a church and added an addition. The second story served as home to the earliest Sisters. Below: Sister Wilhelmina Bleily was the first Mother (Superior) General.
The early years in Oregon: from Jordan to Sublimity to Beaverton
he train arrived at Portland’s Union Station barely one year after Portland had been linked to America’s national railroad network.
Worried about their religious development, the young women asked for help from a Benedictine monastery in Mt. Angel – 30 miles away. Father Wernher Ruettimann, OSB, became their spiritual leader.
The group – including Emma Bleily and 16 other Sisters and aspirants – then boarded an Oregon Railway Company train consisting of an engine, a wood car, two passenger coaches and three freight cars, and continued on to Jordan, Oregon.
In 1885, the archdiocese welcomed a new archbishop – William H. Gross, CSsR – who traveled to Jordan to meet with the young women. Speaking in German, he told them – kindly but firmly – that they were not religious women in the eyes of the church. But, impressed by their faith and sincerity, he asked them to “be my Sisters and help me with my work.” The trustees were furious. The women were determined.
Living in an unfinished two-room log cabin, the women were isolated. Preaching without education in theology, the lay trustees asserted power and claimed the money that Father Albrecht had left for the women. They established a “convent” outside the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church. Their stubbornness frustrated the Archdiocese of Oregon City (now the Archdiocese of Portland).
With only the clothes on their backs, eight of the women boarded wagons headed for Mt. Angel, where they were joined by another young woman, who had been in hiding with a sympathetic family. Housed and fed by Benedictine monks and Sisters, the women were ready to establish their new convent. But where?
Above: This historic photo captures the arrival of the Sisters in Sublimity in 1886. The building was decorated with evergreen boughs. Those featured include Father Wernher Ruettimann, OSB (seated). By 1887, five Sisters were professed: Clara Hauck, Benedict (Theresa) Arnold, Wilhelmina (Emma) Bleily, Josephine Eifert and Cecilia Boedigheimer. Four Sisters were novices: Gertrude Silbernagel, Aloysius Bender, Johanna Silbernagel and Rose Eifert. Left: Archbishop William H. Gross was Oregon’s third Archbishop. His invitation to a group of young women in Jordan, Oregon, to “be my Sisters and help me with my work” led to the creation of the Community now known as the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.
Archbishop Gross suggested two locations: Milwaukie or Sublimity. The Sisters chose Sublimity, where a building was already in place. Emma Bleily and Catherine Eifert traveled from Mt. Angel to their new home, taking part in a Holy Mass the next day. It was Sunday, August 15, 1886.
With the help of Sr. M. DeSales, a teacher and Franciscan Sister from Wisconsin, the Sisters opened a school in Sublimity in September 1888. Classes were taught in German and English.
Philadelphia and Baltimore to raise funds. They returned with money, three postulants and a teacher. In 1888, the Sisters were ready to begin their ministry in education, teaching first at St. Boniface in Sublimity, then in Verboort in 1891.
On the Feast of the Annunication of the Blessed Virgin Mary – March 25, 1887 – five Sisters made their first Profession of Vows: Theresa Arnold (who soon left the Community), Emma Bleily, Cecilia Boedigheimer, Josephine Eifert and Clara Hauck.
Because the Sisters had little formal religious training, Archbishop Gross invited Sister Mary Ludmilla Langenbach of the Sisters of the Precious Blood to serve as ecclesiastical superior, overseeing daily activities at the convent. From her arrival in 1890 until her departure in 1892, Mother Ludmilla required studies, manual labor and lessons of obedience, poverty and humility.
Emma Bleily was elected as the first Mother General. Now known as Sr. Wilhelmina, she was just 29 years old. The community was penniless. When Sister Cecilia’s father provided $100 for train fare, Mother Wilhelmina and Sister Cecilia went to Minnesota, Wisconsin,
A HOME FOR CHILDREN AND A NEW HOME FOR THE SISTERS For Archbishop Gross, the care and education of orphan children was a priority. In 1889, after approving construction of St. Mary’s Orphanage in Beaverton, Oregon, he asked the Sisters to staff it. By June 1891, all but six of the Sisters had moved to Beaverton. When the building opened, the interior was still unfinished. Some rooms had wooden floors. A corridor was bare earth. The surrounding land was covered with pines, firs, bushes and vines. The days were long. The Sisters fed, bathed and clothed 60 children and tended to the buildings and grounds. The Sisters and children harvested crops – including onions – to sell at the local farmers market. The older children joined the Sisters in gathering berries and nuts in the woods. It was years before they had butter, sugar or eggs. By 1892, Mother Seraphim Theisen – the second Superior General – realized that the Sisters needed a Motherhouse. It was built on the land that is north of Tualatin Valley Highway, across from SW 148th Avenue. On January 18, 1894, Archbishop Gross dedicated the Motherhouse to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It had been just 10 years since the Sisters arrived in Oregon. That decade was just a preview of the changes to come as a new century began.
On the Sisters’ first Motherhouse in Beaverton, Oregon, the scrolling text over the entrance reads: Sisters of the Most Precious Blood. On January 18, 1894, Archbishop William Gross dedicated the Motherhouse in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
1900s & 1910s
A new century. New beginnings. F
rom a new Mother General to a new official language, the new century brought dramatic and lasting change.
The Sisters in front of their first Motherhouse in Beaverton. They would soon be asked to change their name to Sisters of St. Mary and to change the name of their school from St. Mary’s Academy to St. Mary’s Institute.
When Mother Theresa Heuberger was elected as Mother General, she was just 26 years old. While the Sisters still spoke German, that language was no longer widely understood by the people they served. In 1901, despite tearful resistance from some of the older Sisters – including Mother Wilhelmina – the Community adopted English as its official language.
debt to build it? After deliberating, 32 of the Sisters voted “yes” on both questions. One week later, Mother Theresa borrowed $2,600. Construction began. In January 1903, the Sisters opened their new school. A resident school for girls and boys, St. Mary’s Academy was an immediate success. Filled to capacity, the classrooms were so crowded that, two years later, attendance was restricted to girls. And the name of the school would soon change.
On May 13, 1902, Mother Theresa gathered the 33 professed members to ask two important questions. Should the Sisters establish a boarding school at or near the Motherhouse? If they did, should they go into
A DRAMATIC MEETING WITH THE ARCHBISHOP Forty Sisters were present when Archbishop Alexander Christie presided over a chapter meeting held on August 12, 1905. According to historical records, the archbishop surprised the Sisters by asking them to approve three significant changes.
He had one more request. As Sisters of the Precious Blood, they had worn red cinctures (belts). The Archbishop asked them to wear black instead. They agreed. To many of the Sisters, the new rules reinforced what they often felt: a low regard in the archdiocese despite nearly 20 years of faithful service.
The Holy Names Sisters had established their St. Mary’s Academy in downtown Portland in 1859 and were concerned about confusion between the two schools. Archbishop Christie asked the Precious Blood Sisters to rename their academy. It became St. Mary’s Institute. That wasn’t the only name change. Because another religious community in Portland featured the name “Precious Blood,” the archbishop asked the Sisters to change their name. They became the Sisters of St. Mary.
Above: This colorized photo features students posing in the main courtyard of St. Mary’s Institute. Below: A postcard depicts St. Mary’s Institute with its east and west additions.
Though the changes were painful, the Sisters didn’t dwell on the past. As they have throughout their history, they focused on the future.
This chapel was included in the 1905 expansion of the Sisters’ first Beaverton Motherhouse. It was decorated by Swiss artist Philip Staheli.
A VISION FOR A NEW HOME In 1902, the Sisters added a new wing to the eastern side of their Motherhouse. In 1905, they expanded again, adding a west wing. But the Sisters knew that they needed more land. In 1903, Mother Theresa Heuberger purchased 60 acres south of Tualatin Valley Highway at a cost of $4,000. The land owner thought he had made a great deal. He believed that the Sisters would never be able to raise the full amount. If he was right, he would receive some of the money then get his land back. He was wrong. The Sisters paid in full. Today, that land is the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus.
An early view from the original St. Mary’s Institute toward today’s Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus.
On Sunday, May 8, 1904, the Oregonian newspaper featured an in-depth article about St. Mary’s Orphanage and the Sisters who served there. The article showcases “the good Sisters who are doing God’s work” to serve “society’s lost lambs.”
1920s & 1930s
The power of a name. A Golden Jubilee. T
o formally establish their new religious community, the Sisters of St. Mary had to seek permission from the Roman Curia. In 1926, the Sisters received their “decretum laudis” (Decree of Praise) from the Congregation for Religious in Rome.
Sisters inspect the construction of their new Motherhouse in Beaverton. Groundbreaking took place on March 19, 1930: the Feast of St. Joseph. The building opened six months later.
Logan. It describes the proposed structure as “entirely fireproof…of reinforced concrete faced with brick and trimmed with terra cotta.” The article notes: “At the present time, the Sisters have charge of two academies, two homes for orphan boys, two high schools and six parochial schools.”
The decree added two words to their name. Records show that those two words were only used in church documents until they were adopted by the Sisters’ Council on February 11, 1950. But those two words have resonated across decades. The Community had become the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.
Five months later – in October 1929 – the stock market crashed. The world would soon be plunged into the Great Depression. But the Sisters held firmly to their vision. Groundbreaking took place on March 19, 1930: the Feast of St. Joseph.
BIG DREAMS IN THE MIDST OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION On Sunday, May 26, 1929, The Oregonian newspaper reported that the Sisters and St. Mary’s Institute would soon have a new home, built on 35 acres at a cost of $350,000.
School enrollment dropped because of the Great Depression. To save money, the Sisters moved the furnishings from the old Motherhouse to the new building themselves, accompanied by laborers who worked on the Sisters’ property and boys of high school age from St. Mary’s Home.
The article, which appeared on page two, includes what is believed to be the earliest sketch of the building, which was designed by Portland architects Barrett &
An Oregonian article dated May 26, 1929, features the first documented drawing of the new home for the Sisters and their school.
On September 28, 1930, the building was dedicated as the new home of the Sisters and their school, which was renamed St. Mary of the Valley. Classes began the next day. The new Motherhouse was four stories high. It included the central wing with the dome and the west wing, where students studied and lived. As the struggles of the Great Depression continued, the Sisters received approval from Rome
The Sisters form a procession from St. Maryâ€™s Institute to lay the cornerstone for their new Motherhouse. According to The Oregonian, the cornerstone ceremony took place on Sunday, July 6, 1930, with Archbishop Edward Howard presiding.
to build a chapel and dining area on the south end of the central wing â€“ if Archbishop Edward Howard also approved the project. He did but required that the Sisters wait one year. After establishing a building fund, the Sisters received their first donation: $25 from Father Joseph Heesacker. By 1934, the fund had grown to $6,000. Father Charles Seroski, the convent chaplain, provided $5,000 during his life and another $10,000 after his death.
Children pose during construction of the south side of the new Motherhouse building, which includes the Sisters’ sun porches.
After Archbishop Howard gave the Sisters permission to take out a $14,000 loan to complete the project, groundbreaking took place. It was also held on the Feast of St. Joseph: March 19, 1936. Mother Seraphim Theisen later wrote that the chapel “is Romanesque architecture, fifty by one hundred and one feet; and seats four hundred and fifty on the main floor.” She added, “Stained glass windows from the old chapel were rebuilt and used wherever possible; several new ones were added.” The planned east wing wouldn’t be built for more than a decade.
A DEDICATION, A PAGEANT AND A GOLDEN JUBILEE The dedication of the chapel on October 25, 1936, marked the beginning of the Sisters’ 50th Jubilee. The full name was: “The Golden Jubilee of Profession of the First Ten Sisters.”
Construction of the Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which was dedicated in 1936.
Like the original Motherhouse, the chapel was dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. For the foundresses of the Community, it was, as Archbishop Edward Howard noted, the culmination of their hopes, dreams and desires. To mark what The Oregonian called the climax of the Golden Jubilee, the Sisters hosted the “Queen of the Valley Historical Festival and Pageant prepared by Sister M. Eugenia of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.” The pageant was held in the Benson Polytechnic School auditorium in northeast Portland on Sunday, May 2, 1937. The headline of The Oregonian article proclaimed: “Jubilee Pageant Draws Cast of 1100 Children.” With participating students from
23 grade and high schools where the Sisters taught, the pageant included a 64-piece student orchestra and a large cast wearing colorful costumes. The Oregonian said the pageant included “a colorful processional and seven episodes depicting the everonward trend of Christianity and the march of Oregon progress” and the ways in which the cultures of different countries had enriched the life and culture of the state.
Right: A 1937 clipping from The Oregonian about the Jubilee Pageant. Below: The Golden Jubilee program celebrates the Foundresses and Mother Mary Seraphim. It is available in its entirety at ssmo.org.
One week later – on Sunday, May 9 – Archbishop Howard celebrated a Pontifical Mass in the chapel. As the Sisters publicly renewed their vows, the archbishop noted that “the true greatness of a congregation does not lie in its beautiful convent or the many schools it conducts, but in the spirit that has prompted that work.”
1940s & 1950s
Building for the Future S
ince the earliest days of their Community, the Sisters have been teachers. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, they also became students.
In 1946-1947, four Sisters took classes at Marylhurst College (now University): Sr. Fidelis Kreutzer is seated. Standing (left to right): Sr. Elizabeth Bender, Sr. Jane Frances Kaufman (present for the photo but not a Marylhurst student at that time), Sr. Adrian Hvalinka and Sr. Angeline Sohler.
Under the leadership of Mother Genevieve Vander Velden, the Sisters were encouraged to pursue higher education on their campus and at colleges and universities. Mount Angel College established extension courses at St. Mary of the Valley. Marylhurst College of the Sisters of the Holy Names (now Marylhurst University) offered classes at the Motherhouse, and a number of Sisters studied at Marylhurst.
Traveling by car and by train – and with support from Archbishop Edward Howard in Portland – two groups of Sisters traveled to Spokane in August 1958 to teach at two parish schools: St. Mary’s and St. Peter’s.
FROM “VILLA MARIA” TO ROME
The Sisters also took part in extension classes from Gonzaga University in Spokane, a city which holds a special place in the Sisters’ history.
TEACHING BEYOND OREGON
In 1946, the Sisters purchased property to create “Villa Maria,” a parklike setting on the campus. Leo James Kinch – the father of Sr. Dolores Kinch – built the house that is now known as “The Villa.”
Early in 1955, Bishop Charles White of the Diocese of Spokane asked Mother Colette Lorch if the Sisters would consider teaching outside of Oregon. After Bishop White’s death, his successor – Bishop Bernard Topel – took up the request.
On June 26, 1950, in Hoboken, New Jersey, 16 Sisters boarded a ship and sailed across the Atlantic. They visited Dublin, London, Paris and Turin. On July 21, they arrived in Rome to take part in the 1950 Holy Year Pilgrimage.
During the Holy Year 1950, Sisters (upper left) traveled by ship from Hoboken, New Jersey, to Europe for their Pilgrimage to Rome.
Sr. Justina Thiele (far left), Sr. Roberta Kunz (third from left) and Sr. Eileen Webb (third from right) were among the Sisters who served at St. Mary’s Home for Boys.
The center photograph from 1953 is captioned “The Last Year at the Boys Home.” Front row, left to right: Sr. Leocadia Mertl, Sr. Clare McCann, Sr. Rosalita Kramer. Middle row, left to right: Sr. Anna Bieker, Sr. Clarina Thomas, Sr. Ina Marie Nosack, Sr. Antonina Lulay. Back row, left to right: Sr. Theophane Ruettgers, Sr. Raphael Tavelli, Sr. Alice Kunz.
Above: Part of the original plans for the Motherhouse in 1929, the east wing wasn’t built for two decades. Records indicate that work had begun by June 1950. The Sisters hosted a community open house on November 24, 1951, to celebrate the opening. Right: Mother Colette Lorch served as Superior General from 1948–1960. She is credited with building the east wing of the SSMO Motherhouse and supporting new formation and education programs for Sisters.
GROWTH AND A GOODBYE Described as a visionary who worked tirelessly, Mother Colette Lorch served two terms as Mother General. The accomplishments of the Sisters during that time were significant. Over a 10-year period, the Motherhouse was completed and updated. An electric stove and steam cookers replaced a gas stove in the kitchen. There were new washers and dryers. An irrigation system was added so that water from the Sisters’ deep well could irrigate the lawns and the convent garden. A mortgage of $200,000 allowed the Sisters to finally build the new wing on the east side of the Motherhouse in
the early 1950s. Max P. Williams and John K. Smeed were the architects. Mother Colette requested a fivestory structure with 75 single rooms and an infirmary – plus community rooms on the second floor – and a bakery, deep-freeze lockers and storage rooms on the ground floor. To attract more Sisters, the Community established an aspirancy program and a vocational promotion plan. The results were impressive. According to a report from Mother Colette, the size of the Community grew from 195 in 1954 to 243 in 1960. Mother Colette’s term also marked the conclusion of an important piece
of the Sisters’ history. In consultation with Archbishop Edward Howard of the Archdiocese of Portland and the Apostolic nuncio (the official representative of the Holy See) in Washington, D.C., and after discussions with the Community, Mother Colette withdrew the Sisters from St. Mary’s Home for Boys. On June 16, 1953, the Sisters left the home for the last time. In her final report to the Sisters, she spoke with hope about the future of the Community. She concluded by saying, “May we all meet at God’s throne as Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.”
1960s & 1970s
The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus as it appeared in 1963, during the construction of Maryville. At that time, SW 148th Avenue was a main road between Farmington Road and Tualatin Valley Highway. Murray Boulevard ended at Farmington.
Body, mind and spirit F
aith and education had been hallmarks of the Sisters’ service since their founding. Now, some of the Sisters wanted to add care for the sick and aging.
“the religious as well as the students could visit the nursing home with convenience.” The Sisters held a contest to name the facility. There was no prize and, in the end, it really was no contest. The name would be Maryville.
MARYVILLE In 1961, with support from Mother Colette, Sr. Theresa Margaret Yettick applied for a government grant to build and open a modern, air-conditioned nursing home for 80 patients. There were 18 other applicants but Sister Theresa Margaret got the $300,000 grant – with the provision that it would have to be paid back in full if the nursing home didn’t stay open for 10 years. The Sisters borrowed an additional $600,000. “It was a miracle,” Sr. Theresa Margaret said. “It was the prayers. We had nothing else to start with.”
On Sunday, May 19, 1963, Archbishop Edward Howard dedicated Maryville Nursing Home. Guests enjoyed an open house and tea. While Maryville observes its anniversary on June 4, there are no records documenting the origin of that date for an anniversary celebration. Historic records indicate that the first patient was admitted on June 6. Her name was Gertrude Dove. By June 1971, Maryville had added a west wing at a cost of $750,000. The Sisters again received a government grant – this time for $250,000. Maryville also added a chapel. Maryville could now accommodate 120 residents.
The Sisters knew where they would build it – just south of the Motherhouse which was also home to St. Mary of the Valley Academy. The campus bulletin noted that
A MISSION TO PERU In 1966, the Community which had its origins in Europe entered into its first foreign mission work. After four months studying Spanish at Cuernavaca, Mexico, four Sisters began their ministry in January 1967. In the jungle at Tamshiyacu, Peru, located some 3,000 miles from the mouth of the Amazon River, the Sisters taught students and educated teachers. They continued their ministry until 1973, when political considerations in Peru – and hardships and illness – led to their return home.
BELIEF IN THE FUTURE: A NEW HIGH SCHOOL In the late 1960s, many Catholic high schools were closing. But the Sisters believed strongly in the future of their high school. After applying to Rome for permission, the Sisters received approval to obtain a $1 million loan. Designed by architects Palmer A. Hewlett, James W. Jamison and Associates of Portland, the building and facilities would ultimately cost more than $1.7 million. Groundbreaking took place on Sunday, May 26, 1968. When it was time to move into the new building in 1969, history repeated itself. Just as the Sisters had moved their belongings into their new Motherhouse and school decades earlier, they were joined by students and teachers as they moved desks, chairs and materials into the new high school just before Thanksgiving vacation.
St. Mary of the Valley High School Principal Sr. Alberta Schwall tests the intercom in the new high school building after it opens in fall 1969.
On Monday, December 1, 1969, high school classes began at St. Mary of the Valley (now Valley Catholic) High School.
On July 31, 1966, the Sisters said a fond farewell to four Sisters – Sr. Ina Marie Nosack, Sr. Angela Lehman, Sr. Kateri Petite and Sr. Agnes Coussens – as they prepared to travel to Peru.
A RESTING PLACE OF HONOR By 1970, Tualatin Valley Highway had become a busy four-lane street. It was unsafe for the Sisters to walk across the street to their cemetery for funerals or for family members or guests to visit and honor deceased Sisters. So a new cemetery was created on land west of Maryville. With employees of Mt. Calvary Cemetery working after hours, the cemetery relocation took place between November 1970 and September 1971. The inscribed stones marking the final resting places of the foundresses are found along the main pathway in the cemetery, near the base of the statue of Mary. As the “Motherhouse Chronicles” proudly noted, “The Founders of our community are given a place of honor.”
1980s & 1990s
As the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon celebrated their centennial, they were honored during a liturgy at the University of Portland.
A Centennial Celebration for “These Valiant Women” A
s Emma Bleily climbed into the wagon for the journey from Jordan to Sublimity, she couldn’t have imagined that, 100 years later, her Community would have grown to 156 Sisters and would be honored during a centennial celebration that culminated in a liturgy at the University of Portland.
As part of the centennial observance, Fr. Wilfred Schoenberg, S.J., wrote These Valiant Women, a book
that chronicles the struggles and triumphs of the first 100 years of the Sisters’ history.
COMMUNITY CARE THROUGH FAITH AND ACTION
As a sign of the changing times, Sister Fidelis Kreutzer, who led the Community from 1976 to 1985, asked to remove the word “Mother” from her title.
In the late 1980s, Sister Barbara Jean Laughlin and Sister Noreen Orazio focused on an emerging community need: a resource center where people could come together to learn, talk, listen, contemplate and pray. Established in 1990, Bethany Center continues to offer spiritual retreats, seminars and adult religious education.
Another sign of changing times came in 1984, when boys attended classes in the grade school for the first time since 1905.
Sr. Fidelis Kreutzer: first to be called “Sister” instead of “Mother.”
During the first half of the 20th century, the number of women in religious communities grew rapidly in the United States. During the second half of the century, as new career paths opened for women in a wide range of professions, the number of women religious began to decline. The impact could be seen in the Sisters’ schools and at Maryville. With fewer Sisters serving, lay staff members took on new duties. The Sisters’ Associate Program also welcomed lay men and women – liturgical ministers, social workers, spiritual directors, parents, business people, retirees and more – who were drawn to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon charism and wanted to share in their mission through faith and service. In 1991, the Sisters welcomed 22 Associates at their first covenant ceremony. By 2016, the number of Associates had grown to 150.
Maryville had become separately incorporated on December 26, 1979, and was now governed by a board of directors. In 1991, Maryville established Little Flower Development Center, now known as Valley Catholic Early Learning School. That same year, the high school accepted boys into their freshman class. The school was renamed Valley Catholic High School. In 1992, St. Mary’s Drive was added to the campus and the Sisters leased land to the Archdiocese of Portland for the construction of St. John Vianney Residence for retired Archdiocesan clergy. In the late 1990s, the Sisters took two steps that were critical to a vibrant future for the Community: initial work on a master plan to address the expansion needs of the Sisters, schools and Maryville and – in 1998 – the establishment of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Foundation. A new millennium would soon begin.
Top: Sr. Theresa Margaret Yettick (center) at the groundbreaking for Little Flower Development Center, which opened in 1991. Bottom: Little Flower Development Center as it appeared in 1992, soon after it opened. After becoming part of the unified Valley Catholic School in 2008, Little Flower was renamed Valley Catholic Early Learning School.
2000s & 2010s
Changing times. Lasting values. F
rom the horror of September 11 to the â€œGreat Recession,â€? the first decade of the new millennium was a time of rapid change throughout the world. The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus was no exception. From the creation of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Investment Committee to the establishment of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) Ministries Corporation, the Sisters embraced the business structures and technology of the 21st century.
Above: In October 2002, Sisters joined students, faculty and staff for this historic photo celebrating the centennial year of the SSMO campus schools. Left: Sr. Adele Marie Altenhofen, the first president of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Ministries Corporation, with a student at Valley Catholic Early Learning School.
In 1999, there were approximately 70 computers across the Sisters’ campus. There were no websites or wireless networks. By 2016, the campus hosted 600 computers, 175 wireless access points, five websites, 13 social media sites, 100 security cameras and, on any given day, 900 simultaneous wireless devices, plus 50 servers (30 physical; 20 virtual) and four internet connections with a speed of 1.2 Gbps (gigabits per second). In 2006, Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen became the first president of the SSMO Ministries Corporation. The corporation provides the services that support the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and their sponsored ministries: Maryville, Valley Catholic School and the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Foundation. Those services include communications and marketing, facilities (maintenance and custodial service), finance, human resources, information technology and strategic planning.
The pace of construction and growth was unparalleled. In 2008, all of the campus schools were unified as Valley Catholic School, Oregon’s only pre-kindergarten through 12th grade Catholic educational system. By 2016, Valley Catholic was welcoming approximately 1,000 students each day. As the Sisters celebrated their 125th anniversary in 2011, the new elementary and middle school was dedicated and students in kindergarten through fifth grade moved out of the classrooms in the west wing of the SSMO Motherhouse.
Kelly Auditorium welcomes audiences for special events, music and theater, including a sold-out production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.”
Completed in 2011, the Valley Catholic Elementary and Middle School building earned a LEED gold certification for its commitment to environmental quality. Wood from a 200-year-old oak tree on the school site was incorporated into wall paneling and chapel doors and furniture.
Students and faculty saw enhancements in academics, athletics and the arts: the opening of the Valley Catholic Athletic Center, lights on the athletic field, a grandstand and field house, enhancements to Kelly Auditorium and the opening of a new science building.
Above: Completed in 2015, Maryville’s south unit and therapy courtyard support patients who need short-term physical rehabilitation. Left and lower left: Superior General Sr. Charlene Herinckx cuts the ribbon at the dedication of the Valley Catholic Science Building, which opened in fall 2016.
Maryville was also growing to meet changing health care needs. In 2011, St. Theresa Convent was renovated to create Maryville Memory Care, a residential care facility devoted exclusively to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Four years later, Maryville opened a south unit and therapy courtyard for patients who need care while undergoing shortterm physical rehabilitation.
THE PATH FORWARD Below: A turf field, grandstand and field house were added to the Valley Catholic athletic field in 2014.
The campus had expanded so rapidly that visitors weren’t always finding it easy to reach their destination.
In 2016, the Sisters and the SSMO Ministries Corporation entered into a joint wayfinding project to create new and lasting signage and maps to guide generations to come. Superior General Sr. Charlene Herinckx captured the heart of the Sisters’ mission, history and legacy when she said: “What I see in our history is our being faithful to God and God being faithful to us.” The Sisters’ legacy is rooted in meeting the needs of the community: yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Who’s Who in the History of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon
Blessed Virgin Mary
other Wilhelmina, a foundress of the Sisters’ Community and the first Superior General, once said that she had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary smiling down, encouragingly, on a child. She said it was “a beautiful vision of glory and gold” and that she would dedicate her life to answering God’s call in the image of Mary. Throughout time, Mary has appeared to children and the devoted around the world. As the patroness of humanity, she often asks those to whom she appears to pray to God for all sinners, just as she does, so that peace may be bestowed upon us. Above all, Mary is revered for her obedience to God. When the archangel Gabriel appeared to her in Nazareth and announced that she would carry the Son of God, Mary humbly answered the call. The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon exemplify this same devotion in their daily lives and ministry. Many of them have felt a special connection to Mary from a very young age as they prayed the rosary and celebrated the annual May Crowning, which recognizes Mary as queen of heaven and earth. As a religious community, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon profess their vows on August 15: the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They never miss an opportunity to share their devotion to Mary through their ministries, schools, religious education programs and parish engagement. During a Mass and profession of vows in 2016, Archbishop Emeritus John Vlazny praised the Sisters’ dedication to St. Mary. He said, “Our church and our world need the kind of difference that comes uniquely when women like yourselves embrace the consecrated life, promising to live purely, chastely and, in obedient service, as Mary.”
Sr. Mary Benedict (Theresa) Arnold was given her name in honor of the Benedictine monks and Sisters of Mt. Angel. In 1894, she left the Community. She is buried at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Sublimity, Oregon. Sr. Mary Aloysius (Anna) Bender served as superior of the orphanage for many years. With little money to support the children, she relied on faith, hard work and the kindness of others. Sr. Mary Wilhelmina (Emma, short for Emerentiana) Bleily was taken by her grandfather to the Precious Blood convent in Himmelgarten, Ohio, at age eight. At her 1887 Profession of Vows, she was given the name Wilhelmina in honor of Archbishop William Gross.
The Foundresses Sr. Mary Cecilia (Aurelia) Boedigheimer served as sacristan for 40 years, looking after the chapel and its sacred items, including altar linens, vestments and ceremonial vessels. Sr. Mary Josephine (Catherine) Eifert is remembered for her beauty of character, patience in times of suffering, and her dedication to the children of St. Mary’s Orphanage. Sr. Mary Rose (Martha) Eifert was affectionately known as “Sr. Rosie” because of her loving and cheerful attitude. She stayed in touch with many of the boys after they left the orphanage. Sr. Mary Magdalene (Mary) Giebler was the first Sister to join the Community in Oregon. She was hardworking, an avid gardener and the only early Sister to own a wagon.
Sr. Mary Clara (Lucretia) Hauck began her life as Barbara Hauck. She is the only foundress whose journey with the community began in Europe. She is described as having a great devotion to St. Mary. Sr. Mary Gertrude (Mary) Silbernagel was hardworking and generous. She served as a housekeeper and shared a deep love for the children of St. Mary’s Orphanage. Sr. Mary Johanna (Matilda) Silbernagel was 17 years old when she became a novice. Despite her youth, her resolute will proved invaluable during her service to the orphanage.
This 1936 photo features the five of the foundresses who were still living during the Sisters’ Golden Jubilee. Seated (left to right): Sister Aloysius Bender, Sister Wilhelmina Bleily and Sister Rose Eifert. Standing: Sister Cecilia Boedigheimer (left) and Sister Gertrude Silbernagel.
The Superiors General
Mother Mary Wilhelmina Bleily 1887–1890 Mother Wilhelmina Bleily was the first Superior General. She and Sr. Cecilia Boedigheimer went on a “begging tour” to the Midwest and East Coast to raise funds for the new Community.
Mother Mary Seraphim Theisen 1892–1901, 1907–1919, 1931–1937 Mother Seraphim Theisen saw the need for a Motherhouse, which was built north of Tualatin Valley Highway in 1894. She served multiple terms.
Mother Mary Genevieve Vander Velden 1937–1948 Professional education for Sisters was the hallmark of the term of Mother Genevieve Vander Velden as Superior General.
Mother Mary Theresa Heuberger 1901–1907 During Mother Theresa Heuberger’s term, the Community adopted English as its language and purchased land south of Tualatin Valley Highway for a new Motherhouse and school.
Mother Mary Colette Lorch 1948–1960 Mother Colette Lorch is credited with building the east wing of the SSMO Motherhouse and supporting new formation and education programs for Sisters.
Mother Mary Juliana Hermens 1919–1931 Mother Juliana Hermens oversaw the move of the Community from their original Motherhouse and school to their permanent home on their campus in Beaverton, Oregon.
Mother Mary Angela Lehman 1960–1966 Mother Angela Lehman was instrumental in supporting the creation of Maryville and the Sisters’ first overseas mission work in Peru.
The Superiors General
Mother Mary Consilia Mosey 1966–1976 Mother Consilia Mosey served during Vatican II. When a significant number of Sisters left the Community, the Community withdrew from teaching in several schools.
Sister Mary Fidelis Kreutzer 1976–1985 Sister Fidelis Kreutzer made history when she asked that “Mother” be dropped from her title. During her term, boys returned to the elementary school for the first time since 1905.
Sister Barbara Jean Laughlin 2000–2010 Sr. Barbara Jean Laughlin’s terms featured construction of the Valley Catholic Athletic Center and elementary-middle school, a transition to boards in policy roles and unification of the campus schools.
Sister Charlene Herinckx 2010–2020 The terms of Sr. Charlene Herinckx – a respected Community historian – included completion of the Valley Catholic athletic fields and science building, a campus maintenance building and Maryville’s short-term care unit.
Sister Anna Hertel 1985–1995 A renovation of the Motherhouse was among the signature accomplishments of Sister Anna Hertel’s terms as Superior General.
Sister Delores Adelman 1995–2000 Under Sister Delores Adelman’s leadership, the Sisters took their first steps toward a campus master plan, created a new administrative structure for campus services and established the SSMO Foundation.
SSMO Ministries Corporation President Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen 2006– In 2006, Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen became the first president of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Ministries Corporation. She had previously served on the SSMO Leadership Council and was Motherhouse administrator.
Archbishop William H. Gross
orn on July 12, 1837, in Baltimore, Maryland, William Hickley Gross, CSsR, entered the novitiate of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer at Annapolis in 1857. During the Civil War, he was a chaplain, administering the sacraments on the battlefield and in makeshift hospitals. In 1873, he was appointed the fifth Bishop of Savannah, Georgia. At age 36, he was the youngest bishop in the United States. On February 1, 1885, Pope Leo XIII announced that Bishop Gross would become the third Archbishop of Oregon City (now the Archdiocese of Portland). In August 1885, he dedicated St. Maryâ€™s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, then located at Southwest Third and Stark Streets in Portland, and acquired the Catholic Sentinel for the archdiocese. In 1886, his invitation to a group of young women in Jordan, Oregon, led to the creation of the Community now known as Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. Archbishop Gross was deeply devoted to St. Mary and felt the Sisters embodied her spirit. He named their first Motherhouse in her honor: Our Lady of Perpetual Help. On November 14, 1898, Archbishop Gross died in Baltimore at the age of 61. To this day, the Sisters admire many of the archbishopâ€™s qualities, including his zeal for spreading the Gospel of the Lord, extending Catholic education to all, and caring for those in need.
All about the Sisters A
s the Sisters observed their 130th anniversary in 2016, Superior General Sr. Charlene Herinckx shared these insights into the women who have served consecrated lives as Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon across decades. Q: How many Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon have there been over the past 130 years? A: Since our founding, 515 women have entered the Community. Of those, 278 stayed with us. Amazingly, the combined number of years of consecrated life of
the 278 Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon is approximately 14,095. Q: What is the highest number of Sisters youâ€™ve had at one time? A: Records indicate there were around 250 Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon in the early 1960s. Q: Do all Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon live in Oregon? A: At this time, most of the Sisters live in Oregon, either in the Motherhouse or in the surrounding communities. One lives in California.
Q: How many Sisters are alumnae of St. Mary of the Valley/Valley Catholic School? A: Of the 60 living Sisters, 30 are alumnae. Q: Have Sisters joined the Community from other countries? A: Weâ€™ve had Sisters join from several countries beyond the United States, including Ireland (8), Germany (5), Vietnam (5), Canada (4), Mexico (2), Switzerland (2), Prussia (1), England (1) and Austria (1).
Q: What is the average age at which Sisters enter the Community?
Q: How many Sisters have celebrated a 75-year Jubilee?
A: In the last 20 years, the average age at entrance was 38 years. The average age at entrance of all 278 Sisters is 23 years.
85 years Sr. Johanna Silbernagel
Q: Who were the youngest and oldest Sisters to enter? A: Sr. Vincent Ritzinger was 14 when she became a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon. Sr. Clara Hauck, one of our foundresses, was 66 when she professed her vows. She had been a Sister of the Precious Blood in Ohio and Minnesota before traveling to Oregon with the other women who, like Sr. Clara, became our foundresses. Q: Which Sister had the longest life? A: Another foundress, Sr. M. Johanna Silbernagel, lived to be 103. Q: Which family had the most SSMO daughters, cousins, etc.? There were four families who had four SSMO daughters: Heuberger, Ruettgers, Gilsdorf, and Reverman. The Vandecoevering family includes three sisters who are members of the Community. Throughout our history, there were 28 families with two daughters as members of the Community: Eifert, Silbernagel, Theisen, O’Rourke, Fox, two different Bernards families, Wunderlich, Vandehey, Tanzer, Mahoney, Sparkman, Tavelli, Benedict, Schmid, Frank, Jacques, Rigert, Koenig, Kunz, Borsch, Kindel, Stoltz, Thomas, Sohler, Schwall, Hathaway and Hertel.
83 years Sr. Constance Dizard
81 years Sr. Mildred Wolf
80 years Sr. Carmelita Merkle Sr. Theresa of the Child Jesus Ruettgers 79 years Sr. Paula Schneider Sr. Justina Thiele 77 years Sr. Hugh Copenhaver Sr. Louise Jansen
76 years Sr. Agnes Beitel Sr. Emily Bomber Sr. Rita Vandehey
75 years Sr. Raphael Tavelli Sr. Elizabeth Ann VanderZanden
buggy to Verboort, Oregon, to talk with Archbishop Alexander Christie, who was at the parish for Confirmation. From that time forward, Archbishop Christie is reported to have been a firm supporter of the Community. Q: Why does a Sister wear a gold ring on her right hand? A: In the United States, wedding rings are traditionally worn on the left hand. However, in many European countries, it’s customary to wear them on the right hand. Given our European origin, many wear this symbol of commitment to God on our right hands. Q: How do the Sisters serve in their ministries? A: The Sisters have served in a variety of forms including education, school administration, nursing, social work, parish work and intercommunity and volunteer service. Q: Do the Sisters go on vacation?
Q: Is it true the Community was nearly suspended?
A: Sisters receive two weeks of vacation and six days for retreat each year. Many Sisters use our house in Cannon Beach, Oregon, for their retreats.
A: Yes. In 1900, Mother Seraphim was distraught over the suggestion, running among the diocesan clergy, that the Community should be suspended and no new members allowed to join. Mother Seraphim traveled by train and horse and
“May God bless you, our Sisters, one and all for your smiles and gracious greetings, for your prayers… May we all meet at God’s throne as Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.” – Mother Colette Lorch
A Love of Learning rom a Sister teaching at a chalkboard in Sublimity to computerized learning at Valley Catholic, education has always been at the heart of the ministries of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.
The Sisters taught and cared for the boys who lived at St. Mary’s Orphanage (Home for Boys) in Beaverton. Years later, those “boys” remembered the Sisters with gratitude and love.
In 1887, one year after the founding of their Community, they organized religion classes for the children of St. Boniface Parish in Sublimity, Oregon, where the original Motherhouse was located. By 1888, they had opened the first parish school in Marion County.
from Portland and Milwaukie to Regis and Tillamook. Teaching at Marylhurst College (now University), they encouraged young adults to go forth and live out their values. Through summer religious education programs and vacation bible schools, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon have shared the Word of the Lord in nearly 100 communities across Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana.
In the years since, the Sisters have taught, led and ministered at more than 50 grade schools, high schools and institutions of higher education in Oregon, Washington, California, Mississippi and Peru.
THE LEGACY OF SR. IMELDA After Sr. Imelda Vandehey joined the SSMO Community in 1900, she began her ministry teaching at Catholic schools. Soon, she was living at St. Stephen Parish in Portland and teaching religion to children attending public schools.
Through early learning, they have aided in the growth and development of toddlers at St. Martin de Porres School in Portland. They have molded the minds and supported the dreams of teenagers at high schools
Her pastor described her selfless dedication to her new ministry: “She began calling at homes of children, so as not to miss any.” He added, “If there were tiny children, she taught the parents how to train them along religious lines. If she happened on a non-Catholic child in the street, she asked him or her to come to her Bible class.” Sr. Imelda was twice recognized for her tireless service. In 1957, she received the Pope Pius X Medal, given to those who provide special services to their parishes. In 1959, Archbishop Edward Howard presented her with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award from Pope John XXIII, which is granted for outstanding service to the Church and the papacy.
FROM ST. MARY’S ORPHANAGE TO ST. MARY OF THE VALLEY While the Sisters’ legacy of educational service can be traced to their founding, it was solidified at St. Mary’s Orphanage in January 1891. It was their first ministry beyond Sublimity. Within one month of its opening, the orphanage had 60 children in residence and in need of care, leadership and schooling. The foundresses happily and dutifully took up the cause.
Mother Colette Lorch affixes the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award from Pope John XXIII onto the habit of Sr. Imelda Vandehey in 1959.
By 1900, the number of children in need was so great that the Sisters partnered with the Sisters of the Holy Names at the nearby St. Paul Parish and the Good Shepherd Sisters at Park Place in Oregon City. Children ages 6 and under were sent to Oregon City. Girls 7 and older moved to St. Paul and the remaining boys stayed with the Sisters at the orphanage, which was renamed St. Mary’s Home for Boys. Even with this division, it was clear to the Superior General – Mother Theresa Heuberger – that an independent Catholic school was needed to serve the Beaverton area. In 1903, St. Mary’s Academy opened its doors, welcoming boys and girls. In 1905, increased enrollment and a lack of space led to an all-girls enrollment policy. To avoid confusion with St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, the Sisters renamed their school. It became St. Mary’s Institute.
A postcard depicting St. Mary’s Institute. The back side of the card reveals that it was addressed to Sr. Imelda, circa 1919.
Early graduates of the Sisters’ school. In 1929, The Oregonian reported that the Sisters had charge of “two academies, two homes for orphan boys, two high schools and 12 parochial schools.” Above: An ad for “St. Mary’s of the Valley” appeared in the centenary edition of the Catholic Sentinel, dated July 25, 1946.
In 1930, the name of the school changed again to St. Mary of the Valley Academy. In the years that followed, a gymnasium and swimming pool were added to increase the school’s athletic offerings. The name would later be changed to St. Mary of the Valley School.
Below: The 1935 basketball team of St. Mary of the Valley Academy (SMVA). This photo was taken in front of the old gymnasium on the Sisters’ campus.
In the 1940s, the entire west wing of the Motherhouse contained the grade school, high school, music department and quarters for resident students. Students ate in the dining room on the first floor and attended special events in the auditorium. Sr. Angeline Sohler ’43 remembers: “In this large room, we had school dances and the prom. There we also had ballet classes, a required subject. The stage at one end was used for school plays and piano recitals. On the second floor, there were three grade school classrooms for day and resident students. The two large rooms on the west side of the hall were recreation rooms for resident grade and high school students. The third floor was entirely high school, consisting of classrooms, library, art room, science room, typing room and a study
Construction begins on the high school building, which opened in 1969.
hall large enough to accommodate desks for all 50-some students.â€?
THE DAWN OF A NEW CENTURY
By the late 1960s, the Sisters again needed more space for their school. A new building for high school classes opened in 1969. Computers appeared on the campus a decade later.
During the 2002-2003 school year, the campus schools celebrated their centennial and the Sisters began shaping the vision for the next 100 years.
In June 1984, St. Mary of the Valley ended its residency program and, returning to its origins, began admitting boys at the grade school level. In 1991, the high school also became coed. Its name: Valley Catholic. Another important change also came in 1991: Little Flower Development Center opened its doors to care for infants and toddlers.
Within two years, they launched a 10-year strategic plan to expand academic, athletic and fine arts offerings on their campus. In 2008, all of the schools began operating with one name: Valley Catholic. It is Oregonâ€™s only prekindergarten through 12th grade Catholic educational system. A decade of growth included construction of the Valley Catholic
Mirtha Inclan, Mary Walters and Abigail Acosta perform an experiment in a photo from the 1983 Miriam yearbook.
Friday night lights: At a Valley Catholic High School football game, the grandstand, built in 2015, is full of cheering fans.
Elementary and Middle School Building and the Valley Catholic Science Building. Highlights also included renovation of the high school auditorium, the addition of the Valley Catholic Athletic Center and athletic field upgrades including lights, a turf field, grandstand, press box, field house and a concessions area. The additions will have a significant impact on Valley Catholic students, faculty and the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus for years to come. The growth reflects the commitment to student success that appears on a banner in the Valiants Gymnasium: “Opportunity for everyone. Excellence in everything.”
It’s all smiles for recent graduates of Valley Catholic High School. Most Valley Catholic alumni continue their education at colleges and universities throughout the Pacific Northwest, across the United States, and around the world.
Instructor Beckie Hocker teaches young musicians at the Valley Catholic Music School, which opened as a music conservatory in 1930.
MAKING MUSIC AND MEMORIES It’s not unusual to hear the sweet sounds of heavenly music when you walk the halls of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse. Roman Catholics have long considered music a powerful form of prayer and worship, and the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon have embraced a love of music since their founding in 1886. In 1893, Mother Seraphim Theisen was instrumental in adding the first music studio to the Sisters’
Motherhouse. In 1930, she opened a music conservatory known today as Valley Catholic Music School. Music education is an important part of the curriculum at Valley Catholic School – from music readiness at the early learning school to violin lessons for all fourth graders – and from band at the middle school to AP music theory and appreciation at the high school. In addition, Valley Catholic Music School offers classes for children and adults from throughout the Portland metropolitan area.
In 2012, the Beaverton Arts Commission honored the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon for their “incredible dedication in creating a successful music program.” Nearly 120 years after Mother Seraphim added a music studio to the Motherhouse, the Sisters were named “Performing Arts Educators of the Year.”
Presented by Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle, the 2012 “Performing Arts Educators of the Year” award honoring the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon was accepted by (left to right) Sr. Denise Klaas, Sr. John Therese Miller and Sr. Juliana Monti.
t has been called the worst pandemic in American history. In 1918 and 1919, the “Spanish flu” infected about 500 million people worldwide – one-third of the planet’s population at that time. It killed more than 600,000 Americans and caused an estimated 20-50 million deaths worldwide. At St. Mary’s Orphanage in Beaverton, the flu struck hard. The Sisters gave round-theclock care to more than 120 patients. All but one survived. In Verboort, Oregon, Sisters Mary Agnes and Mary Alexia O’Rourke closed the school to care for seriously ill adults and children. They had no medical training. Sister Mary Agnes wrote: “In a little three room house four flu patients were very ill with a little three-year-old and a two-year old tottering around. A baby was in bed with the parents. The house was like a bake-oven, so hot.” Some survived. Many did not.
Compassionate Health Care Sisters Mary Agnes and Mary Alexia O’Rourke closed the Sisters’ school in Verboort, Oregon, to care for seriously ill children and adults during the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918.
This was the first time that Sisters would see a critical health care need and take action to meet it. It would not be the last.
MARYVILLE In the late 1950s, the Sisters saw the increasing need for health care for the sick and elderly. Sister Theresa Margaret Yettick, who was then general secretary of the Sisters’ Community, led efforts to obtain a government grant and borrow the
Archbishop Edward Howard provides a blessing at the dedication of Maryville on Sunday, May 19, 1963. He was joined by Mother Angela Lehman (far left) and Sisters from St. Vincent Hospital and from a nearby Franciscan Retreat House.
Left: Sr. Mary Joseph Terhaar was the first administrator of Maryville Nursing Home. Right: An early artist’s rendering of Maryville.
additional dollars needed to build a nursing home on the property behind the SSMO Motherhouse. Portland architect Elmer Zeller drew plans for a modern, air-conditioned facility for 80 patients. The cost of the one-story building – including furnishings – was over $1 million.
As construction began in 1962, Sr. Geraldine Bernards and Sr. Theresa Ann Bunker took nursing classes. In the months leading up to the dedication, many Sisters cleaned the building, put the beds together and arranged the furniture. They gathered linens for the laundry and obtained free books for the library. When Sisters came home after a full day of teaching, they went to Maryville to learn how to provide care for residents – from bathing to brushing teeth.
On Sunday, May 19, 1963, Archbishop Edward Howard dedicated Maryville Nursing Home. Soon, Maryville had 68 full-time employees, including four registered nurses and four licensed practical nurses. Part-time employees included a social worker, records librarian, physical therapist and pharmacist.
Sr. Geraldine Bernards (left) and Sr. Theresa Ann Bunker prepare to begin nursing training at St. Peter’s Hospital in Olympia, Washington.
With Maryville continually at capacity, the Sisters knew they needed more space. On the day that they dedicated the Chapel of St. Joseph – June 27, 1969 – they broke ground for a new west wing. Growth at Maryville has been constant. A cooler and freezer were added in 1980, followed by laundry room facilities in 1981 and business offices in 1983-84. Bathrooms were remodeled in 1985. The west annex was added in 1986-87. The physical therapy wing was built in 1988. An Alzheimer’s care unit was added in 1994. In 1995, Maryville added automatic doors and updated its electrical system. In 1996, the telephone system was updated and a new activity room was built. In 2003, Maryville celebrated its 40th anniversary by dedicating the Shalom Center, a space for meetings and retreats. In 2011, with the regional need for memory care increasing, St. Theresa Convent was renovated to create Maryville Memory Care, a residential care facility devoted exclusively to women and men with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Left to right: Maryville Administrator Sr. Geraldine Bernards is joined by Sr. Theresa Margaret Yettick and Sr. Fidelis Kreutzer during Maryville’s 40th anniversary celebration in 2003. Sr. Theresa Margaret led the Sisters’ efforts to establish Maryville. She served as administrator from 1971-1994.
When Maryville celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, planning was underway for its next big step to meet changing health care needs for adults – an area dedicated to short-term physical rehabilitation.
Sr. Josephine Pelster cares for her grandmother, Hermina Unger, in 1982.
MARYVILLE ADMINISTRATORS Sr. M. Joseph Terhaar 1963–1964, 1966–1971 Sr. Mary Ann (Agnetta) McNulty 1964–1966 Sr. Theresa Margaret Yettick 1971–1994 Sr. Geraldine Bernards 1994–2004 Kathleen Parry 2004–
Maryville’s south unit opened in 2015. It includes a therapy courtyard where patients improve their endurance and balance by climbing stairs, navigating ramps and mastering walkways before returning to independent everyday living. At the dedication ceremony, Administrator Kathleen Parry said, “Everything that we do at Maryville is to benefit the women and men who live here with us – whether they are staying with us for a short time – or making Maryville their home.” A century after the Sisters saved lives during the Spanish flu pandemic, Maryville is a shining example of their lasting commitment to excellence in health care.
Maryville’s front entrance.
Sr. Rita Rose Stohosky and other Sisters honor the Communityâ€™s ongoing commitment to education by teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes in the Motherhouse.
Community Care through Faith and Action T he Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon are committed to serving others. Throughout their history, they have spread the Good News of God’s love near and far. They have served people of all ages – from the very young to the very old – and have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.
FAITH FORMATION AND MINISTRY From leading children and their families through the Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation processes, to working with seminary applicants as they prepare for ordination to priesthood through the sacrament of Holy Orders, many of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon have been blessed with the ministry of faith formation. They find great joy and a sense of duty and service in preparing and assisting community members for the sacraments. Sisters often choose to remain in these ministries for decades. Sisters are also called to console the sick and dying. In this gentle and precious ministry, the Sisters comfort the vulnerable, calm fears, and pray for peace for the anguished. Other Sisters find themselves called to parish ministry. These
Sisters often develop meaningful relationships with members of the parishes they serve. They become confidants and sources of encouragement and guidance as they assist in the development of parish leadership and ministries, plan liturgies and serve as chaplains.
COMMUNITY CARE ACROSS THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST Each day, the Sisters pray for families, friends, loved ones and people in need throughout the world. Aligning with the Sisters’ charism to be compassionate, joyful servants of the Lord, the Sisters are committed to using their gifts, skills and resources to “work for justice (and) journey in solidarity with the vulnerable, particularly the immigrant.”
During Lent 2016, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and students at Valley Catholic Early Learning, Elementary and Middle Schools gathered socks, t-shirts, board games and puzzles – nearly 3,000 items – as gifts for the boys who live at St. Mary’s Home for Boys.
In this line of service, many Sisters have worked tirelessly to improve the lives and working conditions of migrant workers. They have supported rural missions and food banks and provided counseling services to low-income families and individuals. They have taught English as a Second Language classes to men and women who have come to the United States from other countries ranging from Hungary to Vietnam to Mexico, and they have offered citizenship preparation classes in the Beaverton, Hillsboro and Cornelius communities in Oregon.
In 2011, as they observed their 125th anniversary, the Sisters launched Soup’s On, a fundraiser that connected local businesses, government and community members to fight hunger. The event was developed as a gift to the Beaverton community, which had been a home and source of support for the Sisters for so many years. Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Associates – lay men and women who have made a commitment to the Sisters and their charism – embrace the spirit of service in the communities where they live and work. The Sisters also provide lifelong learning opportunities to the community through Bethany Center and its programs, guest speakers, retreats and prayer sessions. Sr. Juanita Villarreal inspires young artists at CYO Camp Howard during Jesus Jamboree 2002.
SERVICE ACROSS CONTINENTS
Others are called to provide comfort to the poor by serving at homeless shelters or inspiring faith through ministry at county jails. Sisters have also given support to women and men who have recently been released from prison.
While the majority of the Sisters’ parish ministry has occurred in the Pacific Northwest, some Sisters have also traveled abroad to extend the Good News and provide service to the poor and disadvantaged. In 1967, four Sisters arrived in Tamshiyacu, Peru, where they assisted the local mission and helped establish a school. They also established access to education and medical treatment for Peruvian children with severe or permanent injuries or disabilities.
Over the years, they have served as a clearinghouse for food from local grocery stores, delivered to the convent then distributed to people in need in the community.
CHAMPIONS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
The Sisters have also provided needed items to Oregon nonprofit organizations including St. Mary’s Home for Boys in Beaverton, St. Vincent de Paul in Portland, and St. Joseph Shelter in Mt. Angel.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches its followers to serve the disadvantaged. This teaching is so fundamental to the Sisters’ mission and values that they include it in their Constitution, saying: “…we accept the challenge to give preference to the poor and oppressed, in whatever way we find them in our ministries.”
They have worked at homeless shelters and served in parishes throughout the Pacific Northwest, teaching Communion classes, coordinating Hispanic ministries, assisting with faith formation and organizing liturgies.
As part of their focus on social justice, the Sisters voted to stand united with the United States Conference of Bishops in opposing capital punishment, defending the value and dignity of human life.
Each summer, for nearly 10 years, the Sisters held a Jesus Jamboree at CYO Camp Howard. Approximately 50 campers spent a week with the Sisters, learning about Jesus through classes, activities, daily Mass, campfires and sharing.
The Sisters believe strongly that social justice is about access and opportunity for everyone – especially those with the greatest need.
Sunshine Pantry Founder Sharon Straus (center) hugs Sr. Delores Adelman as Sr. Colleen Schmitt displays the check for the proceeds from Soupâ€™s On 2015.
From the sequoia trees to the top of the dome:
The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus
ho designed the Motherhouse?
The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse was designed by architects Robert Emmet Barrett & Thayne Johnstone Logan of the Portland firm of Barrett & Logan. Their firm also designed the historic chapel and bell tower at Mt. Angel Abbey, Beaverton Masonic Lodge and the East Portland Branch of First National Bank.
What is the height at the top of the dome? According to Albert Hertel of Caswell/Hertel Surveyors, Inc., the distance from the ground in front of the Motherhouse to the top of the cross on the dome is 79.74 feet.
What has the Dome been used for over the years? How often does the dome need maintenance? At one time, the dome had two levels and was used for storage of furniture and other items. When sections of the Motherhouse were renovated in 1990, architect Dave Richen encouraged the Sisters to use the dome as a prayer space. Records indicate that the copper roof has not needed any repairs since the Motherhouse opened.
When were the sequoia trees planted? Sr. Michael Tavelli admired the sequoia trees that had been planted at the court house in Hillsboro, Oregon, in 1880. A friend and
The view from inside the dome, which is now used for prayer and reflection.
These plans showcase the details for the east wing of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse. Architects Barrett and Logan also designed additions to Oregon’s Mt. Angel Abbey including a nave, atrium and bell tower.
present location on SW 148th Avenue, which was a main street from Farmington Road to Tualatin Valley Highway. The trees – Sequoia Gigantea – still stand proudly.
How, when, and from whom did the Sisters get their house at Cannon Beach, Oregon? The Cannon Beach house was purchased in 1963 with funds from the sale of a beach house in Seaside that was given to the Sisters. The new location was much more secluded and has created a wonderful atmosphere for retreats and vacations. neighbor of the Sisters, Fergus Cromien, shared Sr. Michael’s interest in trees. In 1932, when he couldn’t find a nursery growing sequoias in the area, Cromien ordered seeds from Atlanta, Georgia. When the seeds arrived, he was amazed at the size. He wrote that he expected them to be similar to other tree seeds – “about the size of rice.” Instead, they were “the size of a dot” and he had to use a magnifying glass to see them. Fergus Cromien planted the seeds, which yielded about 70 trees. When they were about a foot tall, he gave some to Sr. Michael, who planted them around the fish pond that was in the front of the Motherhouse at that time. In 1943, when the trees were three feet high, they were transplanted to their
The iconic sequoias tower over the Sisters’ historic campus.
Do the stained glass windows in the chapel have a special significance? Most of the stained glass windows in the Motherhouse chapel had been in the original Motherhouse north of Tualatin Valley Highway. When the current Motherhouse building was built in 1930, funds were insufficient to complete the entire project. The current SSMO dining room was used as the chapel until 1936 when, as part of the Sisters’ 50th Jubilee celebration, the new chapel was dedicated with the new windows in place. Between 1930 and 1936, the windows were in storage. The original chapel windows were created by Povey Brothers Art Glass Works in Portland, known as the “Tiffany of the Northwest.” Small colored jewels throughout their windows are a signature of their work, providing sparkling light when the sun shines. The main chapel windows depict the Holy Family, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Barbara, St. Agatha, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Boniface, St. Cecilia and St. Francis Xavier. The smaller windows around the side altars in front of the chapel depict St. Mary, St. Agnes, St. Henry, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, St. Scholastica and Jesus with children.
Stained glass windows sparkle, casting a warm glow in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel. The windows were moved from the Sisters’ first Beaverton Motherhouse to their current home. The text in the window honoring the Holy Family is in German – a tribute to the heritage of the earliest Sisters.
What is the history of the pipe organ? Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel has been home to two Wicks pipe organs over the years. In October 1936, a small “Fuga” organ was shipped to the Sisters to be installed in the chapel before its dedication. A handwritten letter from the Sisters to the Wicks Organ Company indicates that it would later be used as a “practice organ.” It’s not clear whether that happened. On November 22, 1940, a letter was sent from the Wicks Organ Company to Edward J. Vancoelen, who donated the larger pipe organ that is in the chapel today. The letter describes the new organ as “so vastly superior to what they [the Sisters] have been using that they will probably, as the saying goes, [be] in the ‘seventh heaven.’” Valued at $4,020, the organ was shipped on January 29, 1941, and was installed in February 1941. It was built as a 10-rank organ. A rank is a set of pipes that produces the same timbre for each note. In 1943, Edward Vancoelen wrote to the Wicks Organ Company that “a noted organist in Portland said that the tone
Sr. Consolata DeMartini in the garden in 1975. An issue of the “Motherhouse Chronicles” reported that Sr. Consonata was honored by the Royal Rosarians, winning first prize for best rose garden in the church and school division of the Portland Rose Festival.
quality and blend of the organ was remarkable.” An 11th rank was installed in 1997. The choir risers that surround the organ were built by Leo James Kinch, who also built the Villa.
How many varieties of roses are grown on the campus? Do the Sisters add new roses every year? For many years, Sr. Consolata DeMartini cultivated the roses on the Sisters’ campus, winning several trophies at the Portland Rose Festival. When Sr. Delores Adelman assumed those responsibilities around 1985, there were nearly 400 rose bushes on the campus. When the Sisters celebrated their 110th anniversary in 1996, Sr. Delores Adelman and Sr. Patricia Lulay planted 110 roses – featuring 15 varieties – on the east lawn. Those roses were donated by family and friends in honor or memory of Sisters. As of 2016, there are 36 climbing roses. Of those, 25 are different varieties. Additionally, there are 36 small rose bushes along the parking area in front of the Motherhouse. At one time, there were close to 80. An additional 10 rose bushes can be found in other areas including four in the Peace Bell flower bed. Maryville is also home to nearly 50 rose bushes.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel has been home to two Wicks pipe organs. The first was installed before the chapel dedication in 1936. This larger organ, installed in 1941, was a gift from Edward Vancoelen.
This 1925 photo features students at St. Mary’s Institute (SMI), located on what is now the north side of Tualatin Valley Highway at Murray Boulevard in Beaverton, Oregon. The Sisters’ original cemetery and grotto appear in the background.
How many Sisters are buried in the cemetery? Are others buried elsewhere? There are 217 Sisters buried in the SSMO cemetery, along with some relatives and friends of the Community. At the request of her family, one Sister was buried at Gethsemane Cemetery in southeast Portland.
What is the history of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes? The first Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes was erected in 1911 on the east side of the Sisters’ cemetery, located on what is now the northwest corner of Tualatin Valley Highway and Murray Boulevard. Mother Wilhlemina reportedly begged Memorial Monument Makers of Portland to provide thousands of marble and granite stones for the grotto and laid the lower stones in place herself. Joseph Rigert – the father of Sisters Joan and
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto on today’s Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus.
Beatrice Rigert – collected the marble and stones and brought them to the cemetery. The original statue was donated by Margaret and Catherine Mahoney, who later became Sisters Annunciata and Regis. The grotto and cemetery can be seen in the background of a 1925 photo featuring students from St. Mary’s Institute.
to pull the rope that is attached to the bell. The ringing of the bell accompanies the Angelus prayer.
What do the words on the Motherhouse cornerstone mean? One side of the cornerstone features an early symbol representing Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, including a cross and a crown. The other side features the date of the dedication (1930) and the words “Sancta Maria Ora Pro Nobis” (Holy Mary, pray for us) and “Ora Et Labora” (pray and work). The cornerstone also features the year of the Community’s founding (1886) and the words “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” (all for the greater glory of God).
The grotto on the west lawn of today’s SSMO Motherhouse was built by Jack Sohler, probably in the early 1930s. The date on the earliest photo of the grotto in the SSMO archives is 1935. The arch is less curved than the arch on the original grotto. On special occasions, students would be gathered to recite the rosary. At other times, students would sit on benches to study or visit. During summers, Sisters often gathered on the west lawn for recreation. Visiting families have also enjoyed gathering in the grotto.
How many acres does the Sisters’ property cover? Do they really own and lease retail property? The Sisters’ first Motherhouse was located north of Tualatin Valley Highway. They soon needed more land to support their school and their ministries. In 1903, Mother Theresa Heuberger purchased 60 acres south of the railroad tracks on Tualatin Valley Highway for $4,000. This was one contiguous piece of property until Murray Boulevard was created in 1966. Today, the Community owns the property on all four corners of Murray Boulevard and Tualatin Valley Highway. Income from lease agreements with businesses on those sites helps to balance the annual budget. Today’s SSMO campus is approximately 43 acres.
What is the significance of the Angelus bell that the Sisters ring each day? The bell was given to the Sisters in 1898 by the parents of Sister Cecilia Boedigheimer, one of the SSMO foundresses. Made in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the bell was blessed by Archbishop William Gross on August 15, 1898. It was installed in the belfry of the first SSMO Motherhouse on the north side of Tualatin Valley Highway and later moved to the current Motherhouse. Three times each day – at 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. – one of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon walks to the third floor of the Motherhouse
The cornerstone of the historic Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse in Beaverton, Oregon.
Do all to celebrate God: special events on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus
(Left to right): Sr. Josephine Pelster (50th), Sr. Ruth Frank (60th), Sr. Mary Ellen Hanson (50th) and Sr. Thuy Doan (25th) celebrate their Jubilee Mass in the Sisters’ chapel in 2016. Not pictured, but also celebrating their Jubilees, were Sr. Alberta Schwall (70th) and Sr. Janice Boogaard (60th).
hroughout their history, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon have developed a variety of beloved traditions. From religious holidays associated with their patron saint to recognizing the accomplishments of one another and those they serve on their campus, the Sisters honor their charism as “compassionate, joyful servants of the Lord.”
COMMUNITY DAYS Each year, leading up to the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when new Sisters celebrate their profession of vows, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon hold a special gathering called Community Days.
During Community Days, Sisters break from the ministries of the previous year and return to the Motherhouse for fellowship and spiritual renewal. The Sisters attend a Missioning service during which they listen for the call of the Lord in determining their ministries for the coming year. Members of the Sisters Leadership Council discuss their goals for the coming year.
Each year, on the last Sunday in July, the Sisters hold a Jubilee Mass to celebrate significant service and ministry anniversaries in the SSMO community. This special Mass honors Jubilarians: Sisters who have served for 25, 50, 60, 70, 75 years or more of consecrated life. Following the Jubilee Mass, Sisters host a reception for the Jubilarians and their families, friends and loved ones.
Since some Sisters live and serve in other parishes, Community Days is also an opportunity to reconnect. They enjoy meals together, play bocce and share the joys and successes of the past year.
Jubilee is a time of spiritual reflection. The Jubilarians look back at their original calling to religious life, their years as a novice and their temporary and perpetual professions of vows. They reflect and give thanks
for the many ways in which the Lord has worked through them to improve the lives of those they have served and continue to support.
VALLEY CATHOLIC MIDDLE SCHOOL SPEECH TOURNAMENT In 1967, Sr. Rose Dolores Costello and Sr. Mary Fidelis Kreutzer launched a speech tournament at St. Mary of the Valley Grade School. They invited seventh- and eighthgrade students from Catholic schools throughout Oregon to come to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus to compete. In the early years of the tournament, Sr. Rose Dolores and Sr. Fidelis enlisted toastmasters and
toastmistresses to serve as judges. The top prize was a $200 scholarship to attend St. Mary of the Valley High School (known today as Valley Catholic High School). The Valley Catholic Middle School Speech Tournament, as it is now known, has grown over the years, welcoming more than 450 students annually. Performing serious, humorous, patriotic and original speeches, the students compete for trophies and scholarships that can be applied toward tuition at
Students from schools throughout the Portland metro region display their trophies at the 2015 Valley Catholic Middle School Speech Tournament.
any Catholic high school within the Archdiocese of Portland. Students and parents cheer as trophies are presented in the Valley Catholic Athletic Center and the winners of the top prizes walk onto the gymnasium floor to present their award-winning speeches to thunderous applause.
In 2015, Sr. Michael Francine Duncan, SSMO Associate Judy Winczewski and Sr. Krista von Borstel (not pictured) traveled to Ontario, Oregon, to teach Vacation Bible School at Blessed Sacrament Parish.
Capturing history in words and images F
rom their earliest years, the Sisters shared their experiences in writing: letters, poems and memoirs. Sister Pulcheria Sparkman joined the Sisters in 1910. As the Community’s director of studies and historian, Sr. Pulcheria wrote And So It Happened and Not by Chance, a two-volume work covering the history of the Sisters through 1965. The Dawn was created by Sr. Celestine Snider as a master’s degree dissertation. Electronic versions of both documents are available at ssmo.org. In honor of the Sisters’ centennial celebration, Fr. Wilfred P. Schoenberg, S.J., of Gonzaga University wrote These Valiant Women, capturing the history of the Sisters through 1986. In 1987, the Washington County Historical Society presented a “Griffin Cabin” award to the Sisters for preserving the historical heritage of the county by commissioning the book. Copies of These Valiant Women are available in the gift shop in the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse.
These Valiant Women is dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In the foreword to the book, Sr. Fidelis Kreutzer noted the “blessed presence of the hand of God” and the strong faith of the Sisters in overcoming “seemingly insurmountable hardships in the lives of those first valiant women.”
THE SISTERS’ LOGO Early versions of the symbol representing the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon feature a cross and a crown. Over decades, the image would be modified slightly.
community required a rendering treatment that is both detailed and simple. Enough details were needed to highlight its unique architecture but with a simple presentation for ease of reproduction.”
In the 1990s, Ted Owen of Barnebey and Owen, Inc., created a circular logo for the Sisters. It remained in use until 2001 when Richard Anderson, creative director of Anderson Buckle Creative, volunteered his services to design a new logo for the Sisters.
He added, “Another point of inspiration was the cross with its rich symbolic religious history. Represented with two crossed lines, aside from the symbolic importance, the grid structure created allowed for exploration of both symmetrical and asymmetrical element arrangements until the ‘right’ combination was achieved.”
According to Anderson, the historic dome on the Sisters’ Motherhouse was his first point of inspiration for developing the identity. In his words, “The dome’s landmark status within the
THE VALIANT LOGO An article in the 1971 Miriam yearbook about the school volleyball team notes: “Through peppy spirit rallies and the ear-shattering yells of the cheerleaders, the students informed visiting opponents that the ‘Valiants’ would not be quietly defeated.” By the time the 1977 yearbook was published, the Valiants name was being used to describe students taking part in volleyball and gymnastics.
This is the original logo. A similar version is featured on the cornerstone on the northwest corner of the Motherhouse.
Alumni remember a mascot on the gymnasium wall that some describe as looking like a “smurf.” Others say it looked like the droid R2D2 from “Star Wars.” Records of its origins are unclear.
The Valiant logo’s provenance is a bit mysterious. It has been revised slightly over the years to refine its appearance.
This logo was developed for the Sisters in the 1990s by Ted Owen of Barnebey and Owen, Inc.
The 1993-94 yearbook features a photo of the freshman volleyball coach, wearing a shirt that features the Valiant logo. It’s believed that the logo was created shortly after Valley Catholic High School became coed in 1991.
Today, the “VC” logo is prominently featured on Valley Catholic athletic materials and apparel. Students who cheer for the Valiants as part of the “Blue Crew” enthusiastically shout: “We are VC!”
Our present logo was created by Richard Anderson and is the basis for the logos used throughout the SSMO community.
In 2001, during a discussion with the Sisters Leadership Council, the powerful meaning of the dome became clear: “It begins with the cross. It is a circle, which means it encompasses and embraces. It is a beacon of who you are and everything you have accomplished.”
The “VC” logo was introduced in 2012. The work was a collaboration among Valley Catholic Athletic Director Joel Sobotka, graphic designer Casey Braunger of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Ministries Corporation, and Valley Catholic parent Tracy Teague.
The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Serving in the only religious community founded in the state, these valiant women – 278 in all – entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and remained throughout their lives. 1886 Wilhelmina Bleily Cecilia Boedigheimer Josephine Eifert Clara Hauck
1896 Hildegard Gergen Louise Jansen Veronica Jenck Alphonsa Riehm
1887 Aloysius Bender Rose Eifert Magdalene Giebler Gertrude Silbernagel Johanna Silbernagel
1897 Juliana Hermens
1890 Anthony Heuberger Laurentia Heuberger Margaret Platten Seraphim Theisen 1891 Theresa Heuberger Francis Sweeney Engratia Theisen 1892 Bernadine Eyer Agatha Hochmut Walburga Landher Agnes O’Rourke Vincent Ritzinger 1893 Barbara Hassler Alexia O’Rourke 1895 Ignatia Reverman Imelda Vandehey
1898 Catherine Bernards Josephine Grant 1899 Benedict McClellan Odelia Wunderlich 1900 Philomene Kelly 1901 Dominic Crowley Alexander Fox Stanislaus Fox 1902 Margaret Kindel Lucy Vandale Regina Vanderbeck Genevieve Vander Velden 1903 Xavier Hyland 1904 Dolores Frohnauer Patricia Reverman Perpetua Wunderlich 1905 Lucille Vandehey Ann Marie Vogt
1906 Berchmans Banzer Clare Morrissey Caspar Tanzer 1908 Gonzaga Bernards Angela Dobler Loyola Schmitz 1909 Ursula Donnelly Borgia Fennessey Annunciata Mahoney Regis Mahoney Gabriel Smith 1910 Aquinas Reverman Marcella Shaw Engratia Sparkman Pulcheria Sparkman Innocentia Spenner Anastasia Steffes Crescentia Tanzer Michael Tavelli 1911 Baptista Bernards Eugenia Eberhard Lourdes Gilbert Germaine Heuberger 1912 Assumpta Bernards Veronica Lingelbach Theophane Ruettgers Martha Vogt
1913 Emily Bomber Alacoque Franz Immaculata Gallagher Mechtild Hendricks Kostka Reverman James Ritchey Paula Schneider Celestine Snider Raphael Tavelli Rita Vandehey 1914 Benigna Carroll Patrick Miles Columba O’Reilly Theresa C.J. Ruettgers Miriam of Jesus Smith Kevina Wynne 1915 Eulalia Benedict Constance Dizard Colette Lorch Carmelita Merkle Kieran O’Sullivan Brigid Quigley Thecla Schmid 1916 Rosalia Benedict Christina Jacques Claudia McDonald Julitta Rauch
1917 Lucy Gilsdorf Boniface Prange Cyrilla Ruettgers William Ruettgers 1918 Immaculata Frank Mary S.H. Jacques Alicia LeMasters Antonina Lulay Felicitas Minten Canisius Schmitz 1919 Monica Drapeau Winefride Koppert 1920 Gonzaga Bolda 1921 Flavia LaFond Pauline Lorsung Clotildis Smith 1922 Zita Gilsdorf Antoinette Koenig Beatrice Rigert Camillus Straling Mildred Wolf 1923 Adelaide Kocarnik Petronella Schneider
1924 Aurelia Dietmayer Geraldine Gauger Regina Koenig Dorothy Mauer Alodia McHale
1932 Apollonia Stoltz Francesca Thomas
1925 Emerita Garice Clementine Gescher Elfrida Gilsdorf Roberta Kunz Angela Lehman Justina Thiele Vincentia Vogt
1934 Angeline Baker Agnes Beitel Annette Huettner Caroline Keidel Dolores Kinch Clare McCann Marietta McGinley Everildis Storey Eileen Webb Theresa Margaret Yettick Frances Zenner
1926 Anna Bieker Rosalita Kramer Alice Kunz Joan Rigert 1927 Annunciata Borsch Marcine Frank Sophia Gilsdorf Louise Marie Hermsen Xaveria McHugh Mary Ann McNulty Celine Schindler Joseph Terhaar 1928 Consolata DeMartini Vincent Engeldinger Gemma Kindel Victoria Nuttman Berchmans Portmann 1929 Carmel Crop Rosaria Schmid Barbara Vandecoevering Eusebia Vandehey 1930 Marguerite Heisler Ludmilla VanderZanden 1931 Leocadia Mertl
1933 Consilia Mosey Catherine Stoltz
1935 Ermelinda VanDomelen 1936 Hugh Copenhaver 1937 Lillian Keating Margaret Schneider Clarina Thomas 1938 Damian Hauth Thomas Keogh Loretta Merzenich 1939 Jane Frances Kaufmann Elizabeth Ann VanderZanden Rose Marie Walz 1940 Anna Evers 1941 Margaret Ellen Bowen Andreâ€™ Campau Marcella Kindel 1942 Edward Mary Curry Fidelis Kreutzer
1943 Elizabeth Bender Callista Oâ€™Connor Angeline Sohler 1944 Ina Marie Nosack 1946 Bernice Marie Hertel Alberta Schwall Bernadette Ann Sohler 1947 Agnes Coussens Lucille Nibler Clare Vandecoevering 1948 Rose Imelda Erceg Mary Ann Hathaway 1949 Geraldine Bernards Ruth Etzel 1950 Sybil Graves Theresa Hathaway Rose Mary Heineck Helen Johnston Barbara Ann Klapperich Noreen Orazio Elizabeth Sohler 1951 Edna Rae Crozier Kathleen Mary Fery Dismaria Lane 1952 Theresa Ann Bunker 1953 Kateri Petite Grace Schonlau Janet Slingerland Rita Rose Stohosky Agnes Marie Vandecoevering Anne Vandecoevering
1954 Catherine Marie Fleming Lawdean Lamberger Barbara Jean Laughlin Evelyn Schwall 1955 Marie Bernadette George Elma Heesacker Anna Hertel Marilyn LeDoux Marcella Parrish 1956 Janice Boogaard Magdalen Borsch Ruth Frank Julie Marie Straling
1966 Mary Ellen Hanson Josephine Pelster 1967 Charlene Herinckx Patricia Marie Landin 1969 Ellen Therese Berger 1972 Patricia Lulay 1975 Maureen Kalsch 1980 Krista von Borstel 1981 Denise Klaas
1957 Paula Fox Marianne Giesel Sharon Kirk
1982 Adele Marie Altenhofen
1958 Geraldine Brady Catherine Hertel Delores Klupenger Ida Mae McClure John Therese Miller Jean Marie Van Dyke
1991 Thuy Doan
1960 Joyce Barsotti
1999 Diana Jean Neumayer
1961 Delores Adelman Rita Watkins
2000 Francisca Cuna Theresa Lan Nguyen
1963 Rose Dolores Costello Juliana Monti Barbara Rose Sohler Juanita Villarreal
2008 Alison Green
1964 Rachel Marie Looman Veronica Marie Templer 1965 Sara Goggin
1983 Kathleen Boyd
1997 Julie Doan Juana Gutierrez 1998 Michael Francine Duncan
2010 Rosina Pham 2013 Anna Nguyen 2014 Colleen Schmitt
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God’s work in Mary’s name One of the foundresses of today’s Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Community, Sr. Mary Cecilia Boedigheimer served as sacristan for the Sisters for 40 years. In her handwritten vows in 1902, Sr. Mary Cecilia vowed and promised poverty, chastity and obedience to Almighty God. Today’s Sisters continue to take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience “through the merits of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” In the conclusion to “The Dawn,” her 1945 dissertation about the history of the Sisters, Sr. Mary Celestine Snider wrote: “The early dawn of the Community is over; with the help of God’s grace the foundations have been laid and the rock thereof is Christ; the fire has been lit and the flame thereof is the Holy Spirit. May the same Holy Spirit, the source of life and love, truth and beauty, keep the Sisters of St. Mary faithful to the spirit of their noble founders…gratefully endeavoring to show their appreciation that God has chosen them in Mary’s name to do His work.”