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Sisters of Providence choose new Provincial Superior and Council for 2010-14

New leadership for the Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph Province, for 2010-14 includes (from left) Provincial Superior Karin Dufault, SP, and Provincial Councilors Jo Ann Showalter, SP; Maureen Newman, SP; and Judith Desmarais, SP.

Four Sisters of Providence have been named to provide leadership for Mother Joseph Province for a five-year term beginning January 1, 2010. They are Sister Karin Dufault, Portland, Ore., who will serve as Provincial Superior/Leadership Team Coordinator; and Provincial Councilors Sister Jo Ann Showalter, Spokane; Sister Judith Desmarais, Seattle; and Sister Maureen Newman, Seattle.

The new Provincial Superior and Council members have appointed Karen Lauby as provincial secretary, effective January 1. She has served in that role since January 2007. Jennifer S. Hall, director of finance, will become provincial treasurer after a transition period. Together, they will make up the six-member Leadership Team for Mother Joseph Province, headquartered in Renton, Wash. Sister Anita Butler will continue to serve as provincial treasurer until the transition is complete.

In addition to leading the religious community, the Leadership Team members serve as corporate members of Providence Pariseau Corporation, which includes Providence Hospitality House and Sojourner Place in Seattle, and Building Bridges in Portland, Ore. They also co-sponsor other ministries including the Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center (IPJC) and Intercommunity Mercy Housing, both in Seattle, and Transitions in Spokane.

The former Provincial Superior and Council members were the corporate sponsors of Providence Health & Services, but as of January 1, 2010, that role will be taken over by sisters and lay people who have formed Providence Ministries.

New Provincial Superior and Council members are:


Karin Dufault, SP, RN, PhD
, Provincial Superior/Leadership Team Coordinator

Since 2005, Sister Karin has been serving as executive director of Supportive Care Coalition: Pursuing Excellence in Palliative Care, in Portland, Ore. The coalition, sponsored by 20 Catholic health organizations throughout the United States, works to advance excellence in care of persons with life-threatening illness through knowledge transfer, advocacy and partnerships.

Prior to joining the coalition, Sister Karin served in leadership of Providence Health System, now known as Providence Health & Services. She served as vice president of mission leadership (2002-05), full-time chair person of the board of directors (1991-2002), and from April 1996 to 1997 as acting president and CEO

In addition, Sister Karin was administrator at St. Elizabeth Medical Center, assistant administrator for patient care services at Providence Medical Center in Portland, and also was responsible for the oncology and gerontology program development, including hospice services.

Earlier positions included clinical specialist and nurse research at Providence Portland, a variety of nursing roles at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, Portland, and for two years as the first nursing practice consultant for the Oregon State Board of Nursing.

A native of the Yakima Valley, Sister Karin entered the Sisters of Providence in 1959. Her educational background includes undergraduate degrees in social science and in nursing from Seattle University. She also holds a master's degree in medical/surgical nursing (oncology focus) and a doctorate (gerontology focus) from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.

Her dissertation, Hope and Elderly Cancer Patients, involved a participant observation study in which she cared for 35 advanced cancer patients as a clinical nurse specialist over a two-year period. She completed the Fellows Program in Management for Nurse Executives at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, in 1985.

Sister Karin served on the advisory board of the Seattle University School of Nursing and is on the board and serves as secretary-treasurer of the U.S. Catholic China Bureau. She is a member of the American Hospital Association's Circle of Life Award Committee and of the Catholic Health Association Vision 2020 Steering Committee. Her former board affiliations are many, including the board of the Ministry Leadership Center (West Coast Catholic Collaborative), and the Washington Health Foundation (Seattle). She is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a member of Sigma Theta Tau, Alpha Sigma Chapter.

She is the author of published articles and is a frequent national and international speaker and presenter on topics such as hope, compassionate care for the dying and bereaved, care of elders, pain management, cancer care, nursing and healthcare ethics, issues surrounding healthcare access, reform and governance; nursing research, mission and values in health care, and transformational leadership.

Sister Karin's many awards and honors include an honorary doctorate in public service from the University of Portland (2005), the Seattle University Outstanding Alumni Award (1991 and 2002), the Case Western Reserve University Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing 1995 Professional Achievement Award, the Yakima Valley Community College Distinguished Service Award (1991), and the Yakima YWCA Woman of Achievement in Business Award (1989).


Jo Ann Showalter, SP
, Provincial Councilor (Josephine Ann Showalter)

Sister Jo Ann Showalter was born in McMinnville, Ore., and grew up in the Willamette Valley of Oregon with six younger brothers and sisters. Her parents, Don and Verna Herb of Sublimity, Ore., are now deceased. Formerly married, she is the mother of Ralph, who lives in Oregon. She has four brothers and a sister living in Oregon, and another sister living in Georgia, who is a Providence Associate.

Sister Jo Ann has been a Sister of Providence since 1994. She has been an imaging technologist (x-ray, ultrasound, nuclear medicine and CT) most of her life, retiring her national credentials when she returned to school in 1997. She served as chairperson of her parish finance committee while living in Georgia and also did prison ministry. She has a BA degree in religion and philosophy, pastoral care ministries, from Marylhurst University, Lake Oswego, Ore.; a certificate in pastoral care and counseling, also from Marylhurst; and an MA degree in earth literacy from St. Mary of the Woods College, Terre Haute, Ind. She also spent 12 weeks in Spanish language studies in El Salvador.

Her ministry experiences have included medical radiography and sonography, serving as a member of the Formation Team for Mother Joseph Province and of the Community Life Team for Mount St. Joseph in Spokane. She also is a regional liaison for the Providence Associates in the region in the state of Georgia. Sister Jo Ann has been active on the Reclaiming Earth Committee, as a member and its secretary, since 2004.

She also has been a member of the planning committees for the General Chapter and the Provincial Chapter, the hospitality committee for the 150th anniversary celebration in the West, and also on the Discernment Planning Committee/Chapter of Elections, 2008-09.

Her committee/board/volunteer experience outside the religious community is extensive, including New Beginnings Ministry, Franklin County, Ga.; the National Religious Formation Conference, as a board member and chair of Region 15; Eastern Washington spokesperson and a new board member for Earth Ministry, an interfaith organization with a focus on faith and environment; United for Sustainability, including as co-coordinator of Sustainability Forum 2006; on the Citizens Advisory Committee, Yakima County Solid Waste Division; and on the Sustainability Committee of UNANIMA NGO. Sister Jo Ann was included in WhoÕs Who of American University Students in 2000.

Judith Desmarais, SP, Provincial Councilor

Born at St. Elizabeth Hospital in the Yakima Valley, Sister Judith grew up on a hop farm in Moxee, Wash., in a family with five children. She attended Holy Rosary grade school in Moxee and St. Joseph Academy in Yakima. After high school she entered the Sisters of Providence at Providence Heights, Issaquah, Wash., in 1962 and made first profession in 1965. She made perpetual profession in 1971 at Holy Rosary Church in Moxee.

In 1991, Sister Judith was elected provincial councilor for Sacred Heart Province. She held that position for four years and became interim provincial superior during the fifth year. In July 1997, during the General Chapter in Montreal, Quebec, Sister Judith was elected to a five-year term as a general councilor and she subsequently was re-elected for a second term in 2002. Serving on the General Council provided opportunities to live and work in an international and multicultural environment, to get to know the whole congregation and its ministries, and to meet Providence Associates in various countries.

In her role, she was privileged to set up the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Center at the offices of the General Administration. As the SP board member on UNANIMA International, the NGO in which the sisters participate, she became involved in the issue of trafficking of women and children, and has continued to work on this in Seattle.

Prior to religious community service positions, Sister Judith ministered for 14 years as director of ministry with deaf people, first for the Archdiocese of Seattle and then for the Archdiocese of Portland. This call to work with deaf people came about during her years of teaching in primary grades in Vancouver, Wash., at St. Joseph School, where she became involved in the religious education program for the students at Washington State School for the Deaf. After teaching primary grades for nine years, including Our Lady of Lourdes School in Vancouver, and Holy Family School in Seattle, she attended an interpreter training program in sign language at Seattle Central Community College.

During her years of community leadership she has continued to be involved with deaf people through interpreting liturgy and attendance at various events in the United States and in Montreal. While on the General Council she was closely connected with the deaf Sisters of Our Lady of Seven Dolors.

After her council position in Sacred Heart Province, she attended the CREDO sabbatical program at Gonzaga University in Spokane in 1996-97, enjoying a year of opportunities with international students, theological courses and personal development workshops. She also had the chance to embrace a Third World experience with Sisters of Providence in the Philippines.

Sister Judith holds a BA degree in social sciences from Seattle University and an MA degree in theology from St. MaryÕs College in Moraga, Calif.

Maureen Newman, SP, Provincial Councilor

Sister Maureen Newman was born at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, Wash., the second child in an Irish Catholic family, and lived in Sprague, Wash., until she was 5. Her mother was a member of a large pioneer family in Walla Walla, Wash.

As a first grader she returned to Sprague and attended St. Joseph Academy while her father was recuperating from a serious illness. The family moved to Grandview, followed by Tujunga, Calif., where her mother taught with the Sisters of Providence at Holy Rosary School in Sun Valley, Calif.

Still, the family's home base was Walla Walla, where the Sisters of Providence, who shared parish and family life with the Newmans, were their cousins. Sister Maureen boarded at Holy Names Academy in Seattle during her high school years, while her family lived in Snoqualmie. It was there that she began to believe she might have a vocation to religious life. The Sisters of Providence seemed a more appropriate choice for her than the Holy Names sisters who were her teachers.

Sister Maureen, who embraced the social, philosophical and political movements of the 1960s, entered the Sisters of Providence in 1964, intent on performing works of mercy and helping the poor through education. She was in the first novitiate class to keep their baptismal names, and she also experienced the transition from the regular, floor-length habit of a novice to the modified habit two years later.

Sister Maureen attended the College of Sister Formation at Providence Heights in Issaquah, Wash., and earned a bachelor's degree in education from Seattle University in 1972. She completed a fifth year in history at the university and did graduate work in education administration. For 32 years she served as an elementary teacher, first as a teacher's aide at St. Michael School in Olympia, Wash., then as part of a primary grade teaching unit where she shared ideas and strategies with other teachers.

In 1973 she moved to St. Joseph School in Vancouver, Wash., and then in 1978 she went to St. Therese School in Seattle, where she remained for 24 years. At St. Therese, she taught fourth grade the first 12 years and then served as assistant principal for the following 12 years. Other ministry experiences have included summer work at a day care for migrant workers, a tutoring program for Hmong tribespeople, and visits to Central America in conjunction with Going Home and Witness for Peace.

Sister Maureen led a Witness for Peace delegation to Nicaragua during the war. During the war in El Salvador, she also was part of a Going Home delegation taking food and supplies up to the Chalatenago region. This delegation tried to assist in accompanying the Salvadoran refugees from Honduras back to El Salvador.

In about 1978, Sister Maureen joined Sister Charlene Hudon and Kay Van Stralen to form a prayer group to pray for peace. They became a local chapter of Witness for Peace. Sister Maureen has served as interim superior at St. Joseph Residence and performed contract work for the Catholic school office in Seattle. In 2006, she served on the committee that planned the events celebrating the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of Providence in the West.

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