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Northwest woman religious named to lead Sisters of Providence International

Sister Kathryn Rutan, a Sister of Providence from the Pacific Northwest, has been chosen to serve a five-year term as General Superior of the Sisters of Providence International community. She is the 17th General Superior of the congregation and the second U.S. citizen to serve in that position.

The delegates called her to the post through a process of discernment on July 20 at the religious community's General Chapter that is being held in Edmonton, Alberta. She will assume her new post in mid-October at the Motherhouse in Montreal, Quebec, where the order was founded by Mother Emilie Gamelin in 1843. Sister Kathryn succeeds Gloria Keylor, SP, of Holy Angels Province in Edmonton, who has been General Superior since 1992.

Today, the community of Sisters of Providence numbers 1,089 and serves throughout the world, including in the United States, Canada, Chile, Egypt, El Salvador, Cameroon, Argentina, Haiti and the Philippines. As General Superior, Sister Kathryn will lead the international community?s six provinces and two sectors.

"I am honored to be selected by the sisters at this time in the life of our community," Sister Kathryn said today. "I know I will have their support in the days to come as we move into the future.?

Sister Kathryn is a member of Mother Joseph Province, which maintains headquarters in Spokane and Seattle, Washington, and currently serves as a member of the provincial council. Mother Joseph Province's sponsored ministries include Providence Health System, serving western Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska, and Providence Services in eastern Washington and Montana.

"There were both cheers and tears from the delegates from our province at her selection," said Barbara Schamber, SP, Team Leader/Provincial of Mother Joseph Province. "We are delighted that she has been called to serve the international community, but we also are saddened to lose her from our provincial leadership team."

Affectionately known as "Kitsy," Sister Kathryn was born in a working class family with six children in Great Falls, Mont., where she attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools. She entered the Sisters of Providence as a postulant in 1954 in Seattle, professing first vows in 1956 at Mount St. Vincent. She professed final vows at Mount St. Joseph in Spokane in 1961.

She received a bachelor?s degree in education from the College of Great Falls in 1961 and a master's degree in comparative government from Georgetown University in 1968.

"All of my life I have been, in one way or another, a teacher," she says.? Her ministries have included 15 years teaching at the elementary, secondary and college levels, 13 years in provincial administration and leadership, and four years as superior at Mount St. Joseph in Spokane. She also did community organizing from 1969 to 1971 as part of the Montana Encampment for Citizenship, and served as interim administrator at Providence Center in Edmonton for six months in 1993.

Sister Kathryn, who speaks English and limited Spanish, also spent three and a half years working with the campesino families in the Providence mission at La Papalota, El Salvador, and volunteered to be an international observer with Pax Christi to deter violence and terrorism when ousted President Bertrand Aristede returned to Haiti in 1993.

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