Spirit Magazine Fall 2019 Winter 2020

Page 1



FALL 2019 | WINTER 2020


“What is the first thing you kids are to do when we get to Grandpa and Grandma’s?” “Go and say, ‘Hello’ to Grandpa and Grandma!” “And, what is the last thing you are to do before we leave?” “Go and tell Grandpa and Grandma, ‘Thank you!’ ” These phrases ring in my ears to this day. Whenever our family took a trip to see my grandparents, my Dad peppered us with these questions – not just once during the drive over, but multiple times! It was a ritual to which we became very accustomed. My Mother also has a practice of placing little strips of paper into her “Joy Jar” at the beginning of each month. On the strips are names of family members or friends or experiences or beautiful sights in nature. Each day, she pulls a note from her “Joy Jar” and says a prayer of gratitude for whatever is written there. And, she follows that up with a quick text or phone call. On this campus, being thankful and expressing gratitude are exceedingly important – they are taught and caught here. From the tiniest toddlers to the toughest team players to the time-tested elders, giving thanks via service and saying thanks for services performed are essential. Smiles abound when we do for others. And, when gratitude is genuinely expressed, both the giver and the receiver are blessed. Grateful hearts notice! Grateful hearts are softer! Grateful hearts are richer! Grateful hearts abound with joy and hope! THANK YOU for sharing YOU with us!

- Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen President, SSMO Ministries Corporation




As the annual Thanksgiving celebration approaches this year, the theme of this issue of the SPIRIT magazine, “Thankful,” is so timely. For what am I thankful? My first thought was that I am so thankful for the Sisters in our Community. Perhaps an unusual but appropriate word that describes the Sisters is “quick.” During the past nine years in Leadership, I have had so many opportunities to observe how “quick” the Sisters are. They are: • Quick to see and respond to the needs of another Sister; • Quick to say the kind, supportive word; • Quick to serve with compassion and joy; • Quick to say “I’ll pray for you;” • Quick to volunteer to substitute for the duties of another Sister; • Quick to give funds or other items for charity drives; • Quick to support social services (Faith Café, Sunshine Pantry, Family Promise, and more); and • Quick to say “Thank you – God bless you.” Thankfulness begets gratitude and gratitude begets actions that in turn generate thankfulness. Over the past few years, many health experts have expressed the importance of acknowledging that for which you are thankful. A frequently suggested practice is to keep a “gratitude journal.” The simple practice of enumerating the events of the day or the week for which you are grateful has numerous health benefits: better sleep patterns, reduction of stress, less symptoms of illness, etc. If practiced faithfully, one becomes more keenly aware of the blessings one has received. In time the awareness of blessings becomes ever more acute. Then one begins to find ways to be a blessing in the lives of others – as noted above “Gratitude begets actions that in turn generate thankfulness.” As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, let the great spirit of gratitude magnify the positive aspects of our lives and cause increased peace and joy in our work. And may we be quick to do so! Blessings,

– Sister Charlene Herinckx ’66 Superior General, Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon

FALL 2019 / WINTER 2020



Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Ministries Corporation Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen, President Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Sister Charlene Herinckx ’66, Superior General

Editor: Stacy Kean, APR Photographers/Videographers: Alysha Beck Will Campbell Lizette Santiago Contributors: Lizette Santiago Sister Krista von Borstel

The award-winning Spirit magazine is published by the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and their sponsored ministries. All rights reserved.

Questions, comments or address changes: SSMO Ministries Corporation 4440 SW 148th Avenue | Beaverton, Or 97078 503-644-9181 | spirit@ssmoministries.org

Cover: Father Vincent Cunniff holds his rosary. Read his story on page 16 in this edition of Spirit.




Contents Thankful to SERVE “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and the needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” – St. Augustine The value of service to others is evident at Valley Catholic. From the littlest Valiant in Pre-K to the senior in high school, Valley Catholic offers many opportunities to serve others. These service opportunities are also growth opportunities for students as their eyes are opened to the need in their communities. In this edition of Spirit, we shine the spotlight on a few of Valley Catholic’s service projects. Thankful for FAITH The impact of the faith of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon over the past 130 years is immeasurable. The Sisters’ prayers, diligent efforts and acts of kindness have rippled out to touch thousands of lives. The Holy Spirit has worked through the Sisters and their ministries with amazing, surprising and sometimes unexpected results. Thankful for ENDURING LEGACIES As we go about our daily lives, it might be easy to forget the sacrifices, hard work, and thoughtfulness of the many generations that have gone before us. There is a story behind every enduring legacy that is full of risk, industriousness and responsiveness to God’s call. These stories are ones for which to be grateful and to remember.


Valley Catholic Middle School Students Bring a ‘Wave of Love’ to Rockaway 7

Early Learning School Shares the Joy of Christmas 8

VCHS Valiants Walk for Joy 9

Elementary School Third Grade Plans to Help Beaverton’s Family Promise Program


A Student’s Unexpected Journey 13

Sister Thanh Pham: Celebrating Vows as a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon


Memory Keeper: Sister Angeline Sohler ’43 15

A Place of Enduring Beauty: Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Campus 16

Answering the Call to Serve: Father Vincent Cunniff Thankful for COMMUNITY The SSMO campus is a place to connect with others. Thankfully, the SSMO Foundation provides many opportunities for connection and celebration - from a fun day on the golf course at the “Whole in One” annual golf tournament to the opportunity to connect with former classmates at the Annual Alumni Tailgate. This year also marks Valley Catholic’s sixth win of the OSAA Cup for excellence in academics, athletics, activities and sportsmanship. There are many reasons to celebrate on our campus!


Community Event Highlights 22

Alumni Notes 24

Sister Delores Klupenger, SSMO

FALL 2019 / WINTER 2020



Valley Catholic Middle School Students Bring a ‘Wave of Love’ to Rockaway

Right: Middle School students June Marie Pease, Reese VanderPloeg, Daphne Tran, Eshana Neeruganti, and Teachers Samantha Pottenger and Kelly Kohler pose for a group photo. Opposite left: A group photo before having fun on the beach. Back row: Dylan Campy

Two large buses pulled into a gravel lot in the coastal town of Rockaway, just off Highway 101. Excited Valley Catholic Middle School (VCMS) 7th-grade students piled out of the buses and started assembling in their groups, picking up gardening tools, trash bags, and cleaning supplies.

(parent) Amelia Campy, Amanda Wittstock, Alvin Ling, Paul Caballero (teacher). Front row: Yenny Gray, Natalie Campbell, Sophia Quintos, Stephanie Canoy, Oliver Gifford. Opposite right: Pictured are middle school students Ava Sherwin, Amelia Hansen, and parent Julie Sherwin collecting

“Waves of Love” is a one-day service project in which students tackle a variety of duties, such as picking up trash along the railroad tracks, cleaning and doing yard work at various locations around town, cleaning firetrucks, and helping the elderly with yard work at their homes. It has a long history on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus. VCMS principal, Jennifer Gfroerer, remembers participating as a high school student in the ’80s. VCMS has been volunteering in Rockaway for eight years. She believes the day of service benefits the students as “…they get to feel what it is like to make an immediate impact on a community through their service. I believe Waves of Love exposes them to opportunities to help others that they may not have considered before this trip.”

trash near the railroad tracks. Opposite middle: Sean

On September 27th, groups of VCMS students, teachers, and parent chaperones, spread out across the town of Rockaway, tackling these various projects.

Neirnyck, Joshua Tan, Xavier Durham, David Prestopine, Max Hashima Opposite below: A young Valiant

Terry Walhood, a current city of Rockaway council member and former mayor, said, “I’m very impressed. They are polite, and not a lot of cell phones are out. Typically you see kids’ heads down looking at cell phones. It impresses the Rockaway residents to see them working, and they always have good things to say.”

at the Early Learning School holds his box for Operation Christmas Child in 2018.



Terry, like many Rockaway residents, is retired and moved to Rockaway from the Tigard area 18 years ago. “The students help people who are retired. Getting up


on ladders and managing other chores aren’t easy, so they appreciate the help. One resident is in her 90s, and she was so excited to have the students here to help.” After the cleaning projects were complete, VCMS students had an opportunity to enjoy ice cream, lunch, and some fun on the beach. Students played soccer and other games. Some students even bravely got their feet wet in the freezing ocean. “The beach was fun, but my food almost got stolen by seagulls,” said Christian Vu. Many of the students said that this experience would make them more likely to want to volunteer in the future. “It makes you feel good to help, and it is fun and easy when you volunteer with friends,” said Nari Rusli. Rockaway residents didn’t hesitate to show their gratitude

to the students. “People complimented us for cleaning up the railroad tracks,” said Ava Sherwin. Red Macasa, a student who received compliments from Rockaway residents as he worked, said he was happy to help and, “…they deserve it. They worked hard their whole lives.”

Early Learning School Shares the Joy of Christmas The youngest Valiants on campus will be sharing the joy of Christmas with children in need worldwide. Once again, the students in the Valley Catholic Early Learning School will be packing shoeboxes with toys and other items as part of “Operation Christmas Child.” This fun and interactive project encourages young children to give to those in need. Operation Christmas Child not only promotes giving toys and other items, but also encourages children to pray for the children who will be receiving their gift boxes.

FALL 2019 / WINTER 2020



VCHS Valiants Walk for Joy Above: Valley Catholic High School students joined by other students from six local Catholic high schools, marched down the streets of Portland for the annual Children’s Cancer Association (CCA) Walk for Joy

A little rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of 45 Valley Catholic High School students who joined other students from six local Catholic high schools, marching down the streets of inner southeast Portland for the annual Children’s Cancer Association (CCA) Walk for Joy fundraiser event. Almost 500 students participated in this year’s event, hailing from Jesuit High School, Central Catholic High School, St. Mary’s Academy, Valley Catholic High School, La Salle Catholic College Preparatory and De La Salle North Catholic High School.

fundraiser event. Opposite above: Valley Catholic Junior Will French shares a personal reflection at the Walk For Joy Mass service. Opposite middle: Valley Catholic High School Principal Doug Ierardi joined by other principals from six local Catholic

Our Valiants walked a little over four miles to help spread the CCA mission. The students met at St. Mary’s Academy in downtown Portland and walked for an hour and a half until they arrived at Sellwood Riverview Park to celebrate Mass. Valley Catholic students raised $1,000 for CCA this fall and expect to raise more throughout the school year. The shared goal from all six Catholic schools is to raise $50,000 for CCA’s Joy-based programs.

schools for a group photo at the Walk For Joy event at Sellwood Riverview Park. Opposite below: Valley Catholic Elementary School third-grade students work on an art project.



The CCA Walk of Joy first started out as a small community event with Jesuit High School in 1998. Now, all six local Catholic high schools come together in support of CCA’s mission to “prescribe joy” for children and teens facing cancer and other serious illnesses.


The goal is to create joyful and transformative moments in an effort to lift patients’ spirits. “At CCA, our mission is to prescribe joy and have it a part of the pediatric healthcare experience,” says Regina Ellis, the founder at CCA. “What you walk for inspires your family and friends to help. It makes a powerful difference.” The CCA mission is a unique approach to helping patients and their families cope with the realities of being diagnosed with cancer and deal with hardship via innovative programs and experiences. The goal is to create joyful and transformative moments in an effort to lift patients’ spirits. “Finding a cure for cancer isn’t something we can actively participate in right now, but what we can do is help create moments of joy for children battling cancer,” says Liz McDevitt, Director of Campus Ministry at Valley Catholic High School. “Service to the community is an important part of a Valley Catholic education. The Sisters have set an example for the SSMO-sponsored ministries. We want Valley Catholic students to graduate knowing how to recognize a need and fill it with their talents.”

Elementary School Third Grade Plans to Help Beaverton’s Family Promise Program Many service projects are in the works at Valley Catholic Elementary School (VCES) this Advent season. One project pairs VCES third grade class with Family Promise of Beaverton. Family Promise is an organization with which the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and St. Juan Diego Parish have partnered in order to provide assistance and temporary shelter to Beaverton area families experiencing homelessness. Family Promise strives to help their guest families get back into permanent, sustainable housing and employment as quickly as possible. While in the program, guests receive food, shelter, and comprehensive support services. FALL 2019 / WINTER 2020



A Student’s Unexpected Journey

It started with a phone call. A young Harvard graduate student was studying women religious in the Catholic Church and wanted to learn more about the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. Sister Charlene gave approval for her to come to the Motherhouse and take a look at the archives.

Above: Madeline Lear, center, was

The young student was Madeline Lear. She was in Portland for a summer job with a media company. When asked how she discovered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, she said simply, “I Googled it. When you Google Catholic Sisters in Oregon, it was the first to pop up. I read about their history, so I called, and Sister Charlene said, yes, I could come to meet the Sisters.”

joined by Sister Krista von Borstel, left, and Lear’s family for her baptism at St. Teresa of Avila in Washington, D.C. Opposite: Sister Krista von Borstel,

Sister Krista von Borstel, who serves as the SSMO archivist, was tasked with assisting Madeline. Sister Krista says, “I think the Holy Spirit touched her, and that is why she wanted to study religious life.”

right, made a trip to Washington, D.C. for Madeline Lear’s baptism in 2019.



Madeline didn’t grow up in a religious home. She describes her parents as more spiritual than religious, and Madeline grew up suspicious of organized re-


A young Harvard graduate student was studying women religious in the Catholic Church and wanted to learn more about the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.

ligion. She was raised in Los Angeles, and her father is Norman Lear, best known as the producer of hit television shows from the 1970s, such as “All in the Family.” Madeline’s curiosity about faith began as she visited various churches and in a Christian history class, which covered the topic of God becoming man. She was further inspired by an influential teacher who had converted to Catholicism. She was captivated as she learned more about the incarnation, and women mystics and the depth of their faith. She was drawn in by the

feminine presence of Mary, who she found to be a comforting figure. She was still “checking it out from the outside,” she recalls, but, “…little by little, I stopped being uncomfortable in churches.” Madeline had little knowledge of nuns, other than what she had seen in the movie “Sister Act.” She had a preconceived notion about nuns that they “… prayed in the corner.” What she experienced when she met the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon was different. “They were smart, sassy ladies.”

Madeline had chosen to focus her study on one of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon’s foundresses, Sister Johanna Silbernagel, who lived to be 103 years old. Sister Johanna’s long life provided a perspective of ministry that spanned from the early days of the Sisters in the late 19th century through much of the 20th century and the significant changes in the Catholic Church brought about by Vatican II. Madeline was also interested in the role that Sisters played in pioneering the west and establishing educational and healthcare institutions. While these contributions were significant, FALL 2019 / WINTER 2020



“I remember during the service, my family looked perplexed, and Sister Krista was so joyous and was able to guide my family through the experience.” For her part, Sister Krista thoroughly enjoyed the event and meeting Madeline’s family and was grateful that she and the whole SSMO community could be a part of Madeline’s spiritual transformation. “We are delighted for her! It touches the heart. And, to have walked on this journey with her as a community, it was exciting for all of us,” says Sister Krista.

Above: Madeline Lear, left, at Easter 2019.

Madeline discovered an underlying deep spiritual life. In Sister Johanna’s writings, she discovered a woman training to be like Christ. This life of obedience and spiritual depth said Madeline, “is its own type of empowerment.” Sister Krista recalls that as Madeline spent weeks studying the Sisters’ history, she was building relationships with Sisters in the community. Madeline was learning from the contemporary Sisters as she was combing the archives. “Sister Krista was just a beacon of light and fun,” Madeline recalled.

Madeline chose the name Johanna Chiara as her confirmation name. Johanna to honor St. John the Beloved, the last living disciple, and as a nod to Sister Johanna, the last living foundress of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon who passed away in 1973. She chose Chiara to honor Chiara Corbella Petrillo, a young mother who inspired others by her commitment to the unborn before dying of a rare form of cancer. Chiara Corbella Petrillo is under formal consideration for beatification by the Catholic Church. Since Easter, Madeline says, “It has been a blessing and a journey to embrace this new life. I can’t imagine going back. I will live my baptism. It is a radical gift.”

Madeline holds the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon in deep affection. She said she received a beautiful hand-drawn card At this time, Madeline was still a seeker on a spiritual jour- for her baptism from Sister Angeline. She acknowledges the ney. Both Madeline and Sister Krista recalled the Sisters Sisters’ impact as she evolved in her faith. would jokingly talk about “recruiting” her to join them. Madeline finished her thesis and moved back east. She She says, “The Sisters are a beautiful vehicle for the Holy sent the Sisters a copy of her thesis, and Madeline stayed Spirit. Studying their history was a way for me to understand.” in touch with the Sisters. Last Christmas, Sister Krista got a call from Madeline with exciting news. At Easter, Madeline was being baptized. Would Sister Krista come? Sister Krista was thrilled and happy to see that Madeline had found a welcoming church at St. Teresa of Avila in Washington, D.C. The church is adjacent to a Missionaries of Charity convent. Madeline remembers Sister Krista as being an essential part of her Easter baptismal experience. While Madeline’s family was very happy for her, it was an unfamiliar experience for them.




Sister Thanh Pham: Celebrating Vows as a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon

Above: Sr. Thanh’s family - Friends and family gathered at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel on August 15 to celebrate Sister Thanh Pham’s profession of vows. Pictured left to right: Sister Rosina Pham, SSMO; Sister Thanh Pham, SSMO; Rev. Ansgar Pham, SDD; Sister Therese Thuy Linh Vu, MTG.

This past August 15, 2019, was a joyous day. Not only was it a special Feastday for the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, it was also a special day for Sister Thanh Pham. She celebrated her profession of vows, transitioning from a novice to a temporary professed Sister. And, she received a black veil and a gold ring to symbolize her commitment.

fession of vows. In addition to being a fellow Sister of St. Mary of Oregon, Sister Rosina Pham is Sister Thanh’s aunt, and the presider at the Mass is Sr. Thanh’s uncle, Fr. Ansgar Pham. Sister Therese Linh Vu is Sister Thanh’s second cousin. Sister Threrese belongs to the Sister Adorers of the Holy Cross of Dalat.

Reflecting on her feelings that day, Sister Thanh said, “I was filled with love from God, the Sisters, relatives and friends. I felt great joy when my family and my Sisters got the chance to come together and celebrate the special day – the day that I proclaimed my vows of poverty, chastity and obedience according to the Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. I am very grateful that people from everywhere took time to come and pray for me and the vocation of religious life in our Church.”

Sister Thanh was drawn to the warmth and support she sensed in the Sisters’ community. “The joyful life of the Sisters along with the genuine care and support for one another attracted me. Their examples called me to follow in their footsteps. I want to be like them.”

As Sister Thanh continues her vocation journey, she is thankful for the support she is receiving from the Sisters. “I am grateful for their patience in guiding and teaching me to listen and respond to the voice of God. The Sisters always create opportunities so Sister Thanh had plenty of family that I can grow into the person that support at the celebration of her pro- God wants me to be.” FALL 2019 / WINTER 2020



Left: Sister Angeline Sohler Above: Sister Angeline created the cover illustration for “These Valiant Women” by Father Wilfred P. Schoenberg, S.J. The book details the first 100 years of the Sisters’ history.

Memory Keeper: Sister Angeline Sohler ’43

One of Sister Angeline Sohler’s memories as a youngster is visiting the annual Labor Day Fall Festival which the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon held on the lawn in front of the convent in the 1930s. The Sisters made a chicken dinner and sold handmade crafts, and the festival featured games of chance. The festival was one way the Sisters raised funds for their ministry.

farming community to the bustling suburbia that it is today. “When I joined the community, we raised all of our own food for the Sisters and the resident students. We grew vegetables and berries where Maryville is now, and across the highway, we used to have a barn with cows.”

Sister Angeline’s years in the congregation intersected with those of the foundresses of the community, including Sister Johanna Silbernagel. Sister Angeline recalls that, though the older Sisters didn’t speak much of the difficult early days, Sister Johanna told stories of traveling to Tillamook by steamer and of wind storms blowing Sister Angeline was one of the Sisters the roof off the Tillamook convent. who carried buckets of water to nur- Even in her advanced age, Sister JoSister Angeline celebrated her 75th ture the small sequoia trees plant- hanna remained active by working as Jubilee with the Sisters of St. Mary of ed at SW 148th Avenue. (Read more a seamstress, sewing the distinctive Oregon in the summer of 2018. Cur- about the sequoia trees in the story on habits that the Sisters used to wear. rently, she is the Sister who has been page 15) in the congregation the longest. She While Sister Angeline has seen trehas also helped preserve the memories In her years of service, Sister Angeline mendous change over the years, cerand stories of the Sisters. A talented has worked as an elementary teacher, tain things remain unchanged, “Our artist, she drew the cover and chap- principal, librarian, administrative as- dedication to service and prayer is ter illustrations for a comprehensive sistant, in the SSMO Foundation office, the same. Prayers are always foremost history of the Sisters, “These Valiant and as the editor to Outlook magazine, - Daily Mass and daily prayer.” Women” by Father Wilfred P. Schoen- the precursor to Spirit magazine. She berg, S.J. in 1986. says she has enjoyed, “…learning about the works of the Sisters and the lives Sister has seen the area around the of the Sisters.” SSMO campus evolve from a rural,




A Place of Enduring Beauty: Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Campus

One of the enduring legacies of the Sisters of St. Mary of by the fish pond which used to be in front of the MotherOregon can be seen every day, the beautiful SSMO campus. house. The tiny trees were carefully nourished and watered Second only to the iconic dome of the Motherhouse, the by hand. When the trees reached three feet in height in twin rows of sequoia trees on SW 148th Avenue are a most 1943, they were re-planted to their current location on SW striking feature of the campus. 148th Avenue. Much like the humble beginnings of the Sisters’ ministry, the towering trees started as tiny seeds. In the early 1930s, Sister Michael Tavelli admired the sequoia trees at the courthouse in Hillsboro. However, the seeds for the trees weren’t to be found in local nurseries. Fergus Cromien, a friend of the Sisters, ordered the sequoia seeds from Atlanta, Georgia. He was surprised to see how tiny the seeds were. When the sequoia trees were a foot tall, Cromien gifted the trees to Sister Michael Tavelli, who planted them

In aerial photos from 1963, the sequoia trees appear still modest in height compared to today. The sequoia trees are part of the carefully cultivated beauty of the campus. The Sisters still have “green thumbs,” and this is evident in every corner of the campus. Beautiful trees, a wide variety of flowers and gardens are tended by the Sisters.

Above: An aerial photo from 1963 shows the extent of the Sisters of

Above: The sequoia trees that line 148th Avenue are a recognizable

St. Mary of Oregon Campus, including the newly constructed Maryville.

feature on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus.

In every season the campus provides a beautiful location for education, health care, service and worship.

Above: Stunning fall leaves frame the road to Valley Catholic Elementary Middle School. Photo by Sister Charlene Herinckx Left: Beautiful flowers in front of the Motherhouse. The Sisters’ tend to a wide variety of flowers on campus. Photo by Sister Charlene Herinckx

FALL 2019 / WINTER 2020



Answering the Call to Serve: Father Vincent Cunniff

On December 7, 1941, a young engineering student at Oregon State College came home from Mass and learned that the United States had been attacked at Pearl Harbor. He was rooming with other students who said as he came back, “The Japanese are stirring up a hornet’s nest!” His world and the world at large would be forever altered by the United States’ entry into World War II.

Above: Dennis Kreutzer, left, and the Rev. Vincent Cunniff look at photos of Cunniff from when he served as a bombardier in World War II to the day he was ordained as a priest. Opposite: The Rev. Vincent Cunniff served as a bombardier during World War II and said he made a promise that if he survived the war, he would enter the priesthood.

The very next day, the campus was on a war footing. He was an ROTC member and witnessed the rapid mobilization, which included soldiers and cavalry bivouacked at Bell Field on campus. Field kitchens were set-up and camouflage nets were thrown over trailers. Soldiers and civilian volunteers were patrolling the Oregon coast with deer rifles. Fearful rumors swirled that the Japanese on barges could land in Oregon any day. On the night of December 8, 1941, the campus was on blackout. Seventy-eight years later, Father Vincent Cunniff still has a clear memory of those momentous two days when he was a young college student. Today, he is a resident of Maryville on the SSMO campus. He recalls that the war fears in those early days were very real. Father Cunniff was born in Marshfield, Oregon. If you say Coos Bay, he will kindly correct you and say, “Marshfield.”




“If I flew and lived through the war, I would strive to be a candidate for the priesthood”

Father Cunniff became an armaments officer, more commonly referred to as a “bombardier,” the person responsible for targeting aerial bombs. He was stationed in England and flew bombing raids over Germany in a B-24 Liberator bomber with the 392nd Bomb Group. Using primitive equipment by today’s standards, he had to try to pinpoint strategic targets accurately. Cunniff flew over 30 missions during the spring and summer of 1944. After one mission, he pulled what could have Coos Bay came later when small coastal communities been a fatal piece of shrapnel from the front of his flak jackbanded together to form Coos Bay to get greater federal et near his chest, “It’s a strange thing that I survived,” he representation and war appropriations. recalls now, reflecting on his war experience. For his service he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Father Cuniff ’s father died when the boy was nine, and and the ETO Metal for service in the European Theater of his family then moved to Portland. He was raised Catholic, Operations. and remembers his first visit to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon convent. As a young boy the family would trek to In January 1945, Father was back in the states studying to Beaverton to visit his mother’s friend who had joined the become a pilot in California. He had just finished the first Sisters’ congregation. level of training when the war ended in August, 1945. The end of the war meant there was not as much need for pilots. Growing up in Portland, he attended Cathedral School and Father Cunniff was faced with a decision and a reckoning St. Stephen’s High School. He remembers the priests and with a promise he had made during the war. nuns and their teaching as planting the seeds for his future vocation. He worked on the construction of the Sunset “If I flew and lived through the war, I would strive to be a Highway tunnel in 1939 to earn tuition money to attend Or- candidate for the priesthood,” was the promise that Father egon State College, which would later become Oregon State Cunniff had made. University. The war interrupted his study of engineering. He entered the seminary in Denver and thought perhaps Father Cunniff joined the Army Air Force, which he de- he would only make it through one year. scribed as the “stepchild” of the army. He recalled that, in the early years of the war, the United States had to scramble “I thought I might be kicked out after a year, and I didn’t not only to build a military force but also to build the ships, know Latin or Greek. I had been mostly science-focused tanks and planes needed for the war. in my studies,” he recalled. FALL 2019 / WINTER 2020






The Rev. Vincent Cunniff in uniform during World War II.


The Rev. Vincent Cunniff’s bomber crew. Standing left to right: Sgt.

Raymond E. Sinclair, tail gunner, Sgt. Charles Shrader, engineer, Sgt. Aner E. Anderson, waist gunner, Sgt. John T. Carroll, radio operator, Sgt. John Puchir, top turret, Sgt. Robert L. Reynolds, gunner. Kneeling left to right: Lt. Russell E. Spensley, navigator, Lt. William C. Dick, Jr., co-pilot, Lt. Dewey L. Gann, pilot, and Lt. Vincent L. Cunniff, bombardier. 3–

The Rev. Vincent Cunniff in the later years of his ministry.


The Rev. Vincent Cunniff served as a bombardier in World War II.






Cunniff was ordained as a priest in 1953 and came back to Portland. He has served at Medford, Oakridge, St. Joseph in Salem, Immaculate Heart in Stayton, St. Peter’s in Eugene, St. Peter’s in Portland and Our Lady of the Dunes in Florence. When asked what kept him going as a priest for so many years, he said, “The Lord didn’t look for the brilliant ones, he took fishermen…for people who answer the call. What I may have given up, I received so much more. The Lord gave me many blessings beyond what I could imagine.” When asked how his war experience influenced his later life, Father said, “We call ourselves educated people. We should be able to settle our differences without war.” Father Cunniff ’s connection to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon is deep. When asked when he first learned about the Sisters, he said, “I’ve always known about them!” Sister Josephine, a chaplain at Maryville, says that Father Cunniff has been a constant support for the Sisters for many years, praying for the Sisters and generously supporting them. Dennis Kreutzer, whose parents were both Maryville residents, often visits Father Cunniff. Dennis’s mother and Father Cunniff were cousins and neighbors in Marshfield. Dennis’s aunt was Sister Fidelis Kreutzer, the SSMO Superior General from 1976 – 1985. Father Cunniff has a deep admiration for the Sisters and their ministries.

“You’ve got to believe! Have faith, hope, love, and follow God’s call in your life.”

Even though he is approaching his 100th birthday in July, his passion for the Lord and desire to encourage people to believe and to consider a religious vocation are energetic and ardent. WATCH THE NEW VIDEO

“I cannot understand how much more God could have done than He did – how can we not follow? Eternity is too great of a loss,” Cunniff said. And his desire to share his personal story is to share this message about God’s grace and God’s call, “You’ve got to believe! Have faith, hope, love, and follow God’s call in your life.”

Answering the Call youtube.com/ValleyCatholicSchool

FALL 2019 / WINTER 2020



WHOLE IN ONE On Wednesday, September 18, 110 golfers teed off at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. Friends of the Sisters, parents from Valley Catholic School and vendors and supporters of Maryville came together as one community for our seventh annual golf tournament.

ALUMNI TAILGATE On Friday, September 6, Valley Catholic hosted their annual Alumni Tailgate Party. The tailgate featured food, fun and friends as alumni caught up with former classmates, teachers, coaches and Sisters. Many alumni also brought family members, including spouses, parents and children, and happily introduced them to the folks that made their time at Valley Catholic so special. The tailgate was held from 5-7 p.m., leading up to kick-off in the first home football game of the season.




OSAA CELEBRATION On Friday, September 6, the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) awarded Valley Catholic High School with the 2018-2019 OSAA Cup. This is Valley Catholic’s sixth cup in eight years. The OSAA Cup is awarded in recognition of excellence in academics, activities and athletics. “This award reflects the efforts of student-athletes, musicians, singers, coaches and an entire school community,” said Valley Catholic high school principal, Doug Ierardi.

NEW PARENT SOCIAL On Tuesday, August 20, The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) Foundation hosted the first New Parent Social held at the Marian Garden near Valley Catholic Elementary and Middle School. The SSMO Foundation team welcomed new families and families who completed their first year at VCS with small bites and refreshing beverages. Parents spent time meeting with campus leadership, other VCS parents and stocked up on VCS spirit gear.

FALL 2019 / WINTER 2020



Alumni Notes BABIES

Amber Peneyra Mead ’07 and her husband Ryan and Jessica Guiducci Ellett ’07 and her husband Steven both welcomed babies over the summer. Amber’s baby is named Willa Mead and Jessica’s is named Jack.

Cailey Kimball Anderson ’06 welcomed Scott Anderson into the world on July 15.

Sara Knapp (Bonino) ’99 and her husband Richard welcomed Eden Elizabeth Curtis Knapp into the world on May 13th at 10:07 a.m. 4lbs 5oz and 18.5"

Stephanie Silver ’06 and Patrick Abell welcomed Ryan Stephen Abell into the world on Friday, September 20 at 1:55 p.m. He was 7 lbs, 12 oz and 20.75" long.

Annie Millison ’06 and her husband Andy welcomed Adilynn Rose Millison into the world on July 9, 2019 at 4:21 a.m.

Sandy Hedges DeLuca ’00 and her husband Matt welcomed their second child Walter Joseph.



Tara Hargis ’08 and her husband Brian welcomed Amelia Mae Hargis on July 12, 2019 at 6:14 p.m.

Jenny Taylor (Stotts) ’07 and her husband Stetson welcomed Sloane Genevieve Taylor on July 10, 2019. She was 8 lbs and 21.5" long.


WEDDINGS Evan Madden ’09 has been selling the Portland Loo public restroom to cities all over the US and Canada. He’s been featured in multiple articles.

Jenny Berg ’99 graduated from Pacific University in August with her Masters in Healthcare Administration with Gerontology certification.

Tori Kemper ’12 and Nick Barto ’08 were married on July 20, 2019.

Davig Baglai ’15 and Ella Turkot ’15 were married on July 27, 2019.

Kelsey Keagbine ’10 was married on October 12, 2019.

Kathleen Hogan (Murphy) ’81 downsized from the “Acre plus” farm to a wonderful little townhouse we built in downtown Hillsboro. She celebrated 36 fun filled years of marriage to her “handsome husband Jimmy D” by renewing vows in a Catholic Marriage Blessing Ceremony. Her daughter, two sons and two grandchildren bring Kathleen and her husband joy and keep them young. Their life is always bustling running Murphy’s Furniture, but since Kathleen entered the 5th decade of life several years back, she has “… worked hard at living each day to its fullest, appreciating those that bless by being in my life and - above all - thanking God for every single thing He gives me. I must say it hasn’t been all peaches and cream - but I would not change one thing.”

George Matthew Lowe, class of ’00 was named Michigan Tennis Professional of the year. He is the Director of Tennis at the Grand Traverse City Resort and Spa In Traverse City, Michigan. He is also the Executive Director of the Northern Michigan Tennis Association.

Ashton Ross ’10 and AJ Pascall were married on May 11, 2019.

Kent Kassel ’09 and Tess were married on September 28, 2019.

FALL 2019 / WINTER 2020



Sister Delores Klupenger, SSMO 1937 - 2019

board receptionist at the Motherhouse. Sister Delores’s genial disposition and friendly spirit brought joy wherever she served; she enjoyed life, friends, a good card game, and traveling. One of the projects she initiated and that continues to this day is called the “Sisters’ Project” in which the 7th-grade students from the Middle School come to the convent for one class period each week of a semester to learn about the SSMO Community, their mission, values, and history. One of her most memorable experiences was attending the Credo Program at Gonzaga in Spokane, Washington, in 1985-1986. Since 2014 Sister Delores has resided at Maryville Nursing Home. Sister is survived by her Sisters in Community, her brother, Ray, sister-in-law Candace, beloved nieces and nephews, and many friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, Ron, and her sister, Carol.

Sr. Delores Klupenger (Delores Juanita Klupenger) was born June 8, 1937, in Woodburn, OR, to Joseph and Cecelia Klupenger. Sister attended Ascension Grade School, Immaculata High School in Portland for three years, and St. Mary of the Valley High School for one year. From 19581960, Sister attended Marylhurst College. Sister Delores was received as a novice by the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon on August 15, 1958, and became known as Sr. Mary Dolorosa; in 1963, Sister made her perpetual profession. She served in various positions in the Community throughout her sixty-one years of Religious life: as housekeeper at St. Cecilia, Beaverton, and St. John, Milwaukie; in the laundry and the bakery at the Motherhouse; as Superior at the Motherhouse; as Superior in local parish convents; CCD Teacher and Tutor in Verboort; and as Superior and Teacher Aide in Stayton. For many years Sister Delores also coordinated activities for the Sisters, helped with driving and served as the switch-




Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony H O S T E D B Y T H E A L U M N I A DV I S O RY C O M M I T T E E

Va l l e y C a t h o l i c S c h o o l High School Cour tyard T h u r s d a y, D e c 5 5 : 3 0 pm - C a r o l s w i t h t h e V CHS Choir - B l e s si n g s b y t h e Siste r s - C oo k i e s a n d H o t Coc oa

P l e a s e b r i n g o n e c a n o f fo o d fo r a d m i s s i o n t o b e n e fit t h e H S fo o d d r i ve .

V C S C h r i s t m a s Tr e e L i g h t i n g 2 0 1 9 . E v e n t b r i t e . c o m


Fe b r u a r y 8 , 2 0 2 0 valleycatholic.org/gala

Thank Yo u

4440 SW 148th Avenue Beaverton, OR 97078 ssmoministries.org