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Are you hearing
God's call?

Mother Joseph the Worker

May 2006

LEADER: Let us begin our prayer by taking a moment to recall that we are in Godís presence.


Creator God, we open our minds and our hearts to the present moment, knowing that you are in our midst. We recall the great privilege that was bestowed on Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart.She was chosen as one of the two from Washington State whose statues would be placed in Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C., to honor the great contribution she made. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of our sisterís presence in the West, we take time to acknowledge in a special way this woman of faith and courage.

OPENING SONG: Providence of God, by Rose of Jesus Burns, SP

LEADER: Let us listen to some of the words that were spoken at the dedication ceremony on May 1, 1980.

READER 1: At the presentation of the statue of Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart, the following proclamation was read:
RESOLVED BY THE SENATE, that the statue of Mother Joseph of the Sisters of Providence, presented by the State of Washington for the National Statuary Hall collection, is accepted in the name of the United States, and the thanks of the Congress are tendered to the State of Washington for the contribution of the statue of one of its most eminent personages, illustrious for her distinguished humanitarian services.

ALL: Providence of God, we believe in you.

READER 2: A letter from Senator Warren Magnuson acknowledges Mother Josephís important role as a builder.
Mother Joseph and the Sisters of Providence played an active, highly important role in the building of the Pacific Northwest from 1856 when they first arrived at Fort Vancouver. By the time of her death in 1902, Mother Joseph had established no less than 11 hospitals, 7 academies, 5 Indian schools and 2 orphanages in the States of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. She incorporated the Sisters of Providence in 1858, today, the second oldest corporation registered in the State of Washington, and her efforts to improve the quality of life for all citizens in that region of our Nation remains to this day an impressive legacy of Mother Joseph.

ALL: Providence of God, we hope in you.

READER 3: Sister Gilberte Villeneuve, Superior General of the Sisters of Providence at the time, made the following comments:
Mother Joseph was a woman of faith. Though a gifted architect, and an exceptional leader, the keystone of her courage was faith. Her belief in Divine Providence led her to undertake arduous journeys, accept immense sacrifices and accomplish enormous tasks. She knew that God would provide. Mother Joseph was a woman of prayer. Throughout a life of hard work and service, she always took the time to pray. This was her source of strength. When asked why he created a kneeling statue, sculptor Felix de Weldon answered, "Because Mother Joseph could never have done all that she did without prayer."

ALL: Providence of God, we love you with all our hearts.

READER 4: Governor Dixie Lee Ray, the first woman Governor of Washington State, had once characterized Mother Joseph as "My kind of woman." At the dedication she reflected:
Our most important function today is to honor one of the most remarkable women of America in the 19th century. No single word could describe Mother Joseph, an artist of great talent, a carver, a worker in wax and embroidery, a jeweler, an architect, an artisan, a carpenter and a designer, to mention a few. She was a woman I would have liked to know. She liked to see things accomplished. She liked to see that decisions were made and not just studied to death. If something didnít go the way she thought it should, she rolled up her sleeves and did it herself.

I deeply admire one story that is told about her. When the town of Vancouver, then very young, decided to put a water tax on her Academy she looked at the bill and said, "We will dig our own well." And she did. I have to say, I like that spirit. I like to see that spirit memorialized in our state and I can think of no better way to do it than to have Mother Josephís statue stand in Washington, D.C. as an example of what we here in this state, man and woman, both believe in.

We are here today to honor a woman of talent, a woman of knowledge, a woman who believed in education, a woman who devoted her life to the young, to the poor, to the sick, and a woman whose compassion knew no bounds.

ALL: Providence of God, we thank you for all.

LEADER: We have heard many wonderful things about Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart and her ability to inspire, lead, and involve others in the works to benefit the sick and the poor. Let us take time now to reflect and share.

  • How does Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart impact your life today?
  • If you were part of the celebration in Washington, D.C., what do you recall about that experience?

LEADER: Mother Joseph had a vision of how to better serve the poor. I invite each of you to choose a plant and share your vision of how to better serve the needs of the poor wherever you/we are. May this plant remind you of your vision.

LEADER: Mother Joseph died on January 19, 1902 at the age of 79. Her last words to the sisters gathered around her bed were:
My dear sisters, allow me to recommend to you the care of the poor in our houses, as well as those without. Take good care of them; have no fear of them; assist them and receive them. Then you will have no regrets. Do not say: ah! This does not concern me, let others see to them. My sisters, whatever concerns the poor is always our affair. May we never forget these words.

LEADER: In the words of a prayer by Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, given at the acceptance of the statue of Mother Joseph, we proclaim:
Blessed are you, provident and forgiving God of tender mercy, for this unusual lady of faith, for her fearlessness of the unknown, for her strength of character, for her ability, energy and training, and for her rugged love of Christ Jesus ... empower us with something of the vision, the hope, the love and the endurance of this woman, whose memory we honor and whose life and ministry so fully reflect your merciful providence. AMEN.

CLOSING SONG: Hymn to Divine Providence

[All the quotes used in this prayer service came from: "Proceedings in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, Washington D.C., May 1, 1980."]


Have copies available for participants:
  • Prayer service
  • Music

Bring enough small plants so that as part of the ritual each person may choose one to take home. Arrange the plants on a focus table.

At the time of sharing, the leader may want to have the group use the mutual invitation process. If this is being done in a group where the people do not know each other well, it is important to have name tags for everyone present. To begin, the leader explains the process in words similar to this:
During our group sharing we will be using a mutual invitation process. As the leader I will begin the sharing. When I finish sharing, I will invite another person by name to be next. That person shares or passes, then invites another person by name to share. Each person has a right to share or to pass AND each person invites the next person to share until all in the group have been invited. Now I will begin.