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Nine Sisters of Providence mark 25, 50, 60, 70, and 80 years of religious life

Nine Sisters of Providence will mark 25, 50, 60, 70, and 80 years of religious life at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, September 9, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, 7000 35th Avenue SW, Seattle. Reverend John R. Walmesley will be the celebrant for the liturgy, which will be followed by a reception in the parish hall.

80 years

Germaine Chabot, SP
(Sister Germaine of the Seven Dolors)

Born in French-speaking Clarence Creek, Ontario, Sister Germaine Chabot met the Sisters of Providence at her summer job at Sacred Heart Hospital in Hull, Quebec, and entered the religious community in 1937. After graduation from St. Joseph School of Nursing in Vancouver, Wash., she became a registered nurse in various Sisters of Providence hospitals, including in Seattle and Portland. She also was an administrator/superior at St. Peter Hospital, Olympia, Wash., Providence Hospital, Seattle, Providence Hospital in Everett, Wash., and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Yakima, Wash. After a brief time at Providence Anchorage Hospital in Alaska, she enrolled in the clinical pastoral education program in Oakland, Calif., and then began a pastoral care ministry at Providence Portland Medical Center, where she would later become a chaplain and remain for 41 years. Her favorite ministry was to assist the dying in the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Department. “It gave me great satisfaction to be present and pray with the patient and family at their last moments on earth,” she said. Sister Germaine retired in 1992. Today she lives at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle, where her ministry is prayer and presence.

70 years

Maryann Bochsler, SP
(Sister Mary Carmelita)

Sister Maryann Bochsler was born on a farm in St. Paul, Ore., and grew up in rural Mount Angel, Ore. After graduation from St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing in Vancouver, Wash., she entered the Sisters of Providence in 1947. She worked in nursing service in “practically every hospital in Sacred Heart Province, from Walla Walla to Burbank,” except for Alaska. She was a housekeeping maid, nurse, nursing supervisor, assistant administrator, patient visitor, pastoral care chaplain and nursing in-service teacher.

In 1975 she was hired to establish a pastoral care department at Mount St. Vincent in Seattle. “I always wanted to be at the bedside, and in pastoral care I was able to do that,” she said. “Those were very satisfying, very nourishing times for me.” She retired in 1995 but volunteered at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle, as a Eucharistic minister and sacristan. Her ministry is prayer and presence at her home at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle.

Mary Fox, SP
(Sister Kathryn Ann)

Sister Mary Fox was born in Vancouver, Wash., the oldest of three children in a German/Irish family. An aunt and a cousin were Sisters of Providence. Inspired by her teachers at Providence Academy, she entered the religious community in 1946 at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle. Slated to become a teacher, instead her first ministry was as assistant bookkeeper at the old St. Vincent Hospital in Portland, Ore. Years later she had the opportunity to teach as a novitiate officer in charge of the pantry, the sisters’ refectory and the sewing room.

She worked on the switchboard at Providence Heights in Issaquah, Wash., for five years and then began her favorite ministry, 18 years as school secretary at St. Joseph Elementary School in Vancouver. Next she spent 12 years as secretary to the director of volunteers and in the gift shop at Providence Portland Medical Center. She retired in 2002 and volunteered at St. Joseph Parish in Vancouver. In 2012 she was the last sister to leave Vancouver since Mother Joseph arrived there in 1856. Today she resides at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle, where she is a sacristan and serves on the Alms Committee. “Every day is joyful being with the sisters here,” she said. “The past is past and I’m looking forward to the future.”

Elizabeth “Liz” Gress, SP
(Sister Rose Monica)

Born in White Bluffs, Wash., Sister Elizabeth Gress grew up in Richland and Grandview. She first met the Sisters of Providence at St. Joseph Academy in Sprague, Wash., and entered the novitiate at Mount St. Vincent in Seattle in 1946. Her first ministry was a kindergarten classroom at St. Gerard Grade School in Great Falls, Mont. “I had a hard time that first year. My blessing was Sister Virginia Cosner, an excellent teacher, as my supervisor.”

Most of her teaching career and other ministries were in Montana except for six years at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, Ill, outside Chicago. She also was principal of St. Peter and Paul School in Great Falls and spent six years as admissions counselor at the College of Great Falls, followed by two years at Mount St. Joseph, Spokane, in service to retired sisters.

Sister Liz served St. Luke Parish in Great Falls before becoming a member of the St. Ignatius Province Leadership Team. For two decades she was a seasoned presence living among novices at the Nally House Novitiate Community in Spokane. She also was a volunteer at Our Place ministry in Spokane’s West Central neighborhood and a board member at St. Joseph Hospital in Polson, Mont. In 2016 she moved to Emilie Court in Spokane and currently volunteers at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

60 years

Margaret Botch, SP
(Sister Eva Marie)

Sister Margaret Botch was born in Great Falls, Mont., and lived in Belt and several other Montana towns where she got to know the Sisters of Providence through religious vacation school classes. After two years of high school in Iraq, where her father was in government service, she graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in Missoula, Mont., and entered the religious community in 1956. One of the early enrollees in the College of Sister Formation, she taught high school English in Great Falls and in Walla Walla, Wash., before becoming the first woman campus minister at Gonzaga University in Spokane in 1972. She assisted parishes in the 1970s and lived for 14 years in a local community focused on contemplative prayer and a simple lifestyle.

Sister Margaret has been a trailblazer in the religious community, co-chairing the first open chapter with her older sibling, Sister Bernadette Botch, in 1976; serving on the first formation team, directing the revitalized novitiate, and serving two terms as councilor for ministry and religious development. She was on the first Leadership Team of Mother Joseph Province, 2000-04, and became provincial/leadership team coordinator, 2005-09. Today, she lives in Walla Walla, supporting the homebound sick, elderly and dying, visiting and praying with them and bringing them Holy Communion.

Roberta Rorke, SP
(Sister Mary of the Holy Trinity)

Sister Roberta Rorke lives in her birthplace of Yakima, Wash. A longtime educator, she was a philosophy major at Seattle University when she entered the Sisters of Providence in 1956. After her vows, she continued to teach at all levels except grade school. She earned a master’s degrees in history and theology, teaching history in the College of Sister Formation. She also served on the Formation Team.

Sister Roberta served on the General Council in Montreal for 10 years, traveling to Egypt, Chile, Argentina, Haiti, El Salvador, the Philippines and Cameroon, plus to a United Nations forum for women held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1985. She was the last provincial for Sacred Heart Province, 1996-99, and also served on the first Leadership Team of Mother Joseph Province, 2000-04. She taught at Heritage University in Toppenish, Wash., until the age of 80. In Yakima today, she is on the board of Rod’s House, participates in Act Yakima, and meets with groups to share information on issues like immigration, the refugee travel ban and abortion.

50 years

Celia Chappell, SP

Sister Celia Chappell was born in Seattle and grew up in the Fauntleroy area of West Seattle. After graduation from Holy Family Catholic School, she became a postulant and then a novice. She graduated from Seattle University with an education degree in 1970 and then taught math for three years at Providence High School in Burbank, Calif., until she was slowed by health issues. After recuperating, she became a parish visitor, helping several senior Sisters of Providence with beginning outreach to the elderly at Holy Rosary Parish, Seattle. She also was a minister to senior adults at St. Anne Parish, Seattle. After receiving a master’s degree in social work at the University of Denver, she was a staff member for parish social ministry at Catholic Community Services, Seattle. She also helped start volunteer chore ministry throughout the parishes of King County.

Sister Celia served as vocation director from 1985 to 1991 and then became a spiritual director with Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL), headquartered at St. Joseph Parish, Seattle, until 1999. Next, she joined the staff of the Ignatian Resource Center, later becoming its interim director for two years. After nine years living with and supporting her mother in the last years of her life, Sister Celia began 2013 by filling the remaining two years of a term as provincial councilor for Mother Joseph Province. Since August of 2014 she has been novitiate director of Holy Angels and Mother Joseph provinces and will end her second term in July 2020.

Joan Gallagher, SP
(Sister Denise, OSB)

Sister Joan Gallagher was born into an Irish/Swiss Catholic family with nine children in Tacoma, Wash., and grew up in Puyallup, Wash. She attended All Saints School, where she was taught by the Benedictine Sisters of St. Placid, Lacey, Wash., and at St. Leo’s High School in Tacoma, taught by the Franciscans. A weekend vocation retreat with the Benedictine Sisters was a turning point. After graduation in 1966, she entered the Benedictines, a teaching community, and took the name Sister Denise. She was a student teacher at Holy Rosary grade school in Tacoma and earned degrees in education, home economics and library science. For six years she taught high school at St. Placid in Lacey, while also doing high school and confirmation retreats. She was offered and allowed to accept an opportunity to serve as youth minister in All Saints, her home parish.

She became vocation director for the Benedictines after final vows and began to feel that she was called to a more active religious community. She began a three-year transfer process in June 1982, meanwhile taking a job at St. Jude’s in Redmond, Wash., as youth minister and a pastoral associate. Her transfer of vows to the Sisters of Providence was completed in July 1985. Her ministries since then have included being a pastoral associate at St. Mary’s in Aberdeen, Wash., and at St. Therese Church and Our Lady of Fatima Church, both in Seattle. She also was librarian at St. Vincent de Paul School, Federal Way, Wash. She served on the vocation and formation committees and in 1994 began her first three-year term as vocation director, continuing in that role until 2004. After serving as director of the religious community libraries and doing spiritual direction, she returned to vocation ministry from 2010 to 2013.

Today, Sister Joan is a member of the Leadership Team of Mother Joseph Province with a term ending in 2019.

25 years

Maribeth Carson, SP

By the time Sister Maribeth Carson entered the Sisters of Providence as a candidate in Seattle in 1991, she had been teaching for 25 years in Seattle Public Schools. Born in Wenatchee, she grew up in Seattle and attended Our Lady of the Lake School and Holy Names Academy. She received a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Seattle University and was an Oblate of St. Benedict attached to the abbey of Mount Angel. Despite her successful teaching career, the pull of community life led her to become a woman religious. She became a novice in 1992 at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle, and spent a year at the Galilee Renewal Centre and Intercommunity Novitiate in Arnprior, Ontario. Returning to the United States after her canonical novitiate, she spent her apostolic year at St. Joseph/Marquette School in Yakima, Wash.

Sister Maribeth began her ministry as a teacher at Our Lady of Sorrows School in Portland, Ore. After professing final vows, she transitioned into parish work, becoming director of religious education at Immaculate Conception Parish in Stayton, Ore., before becoming pastoral assistant for adult faith formation at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Everett, Wash. Today she is sister representative on the Community Ministry Board of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, and also on the Mission Committee, the Providence Institute for Healthier Communities, and the Ethics Committee.

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