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Sisters of Providence host Seattle event celebrating 150 years in the West and 2006 Jubilarians

St. James Cathedral in Seattle will be the site of the first of three major celebrations this year marking the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of Providence in the West. The Mass, which will include recognition of the religious community's 2006 Jubilarians, will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 22, at the cathedral, 804 Ninth Avenue. Presider will be The Most Reverend Alex J. Brunett, Archbishop of Seattle. A reception will follow at Yesler Community Center, 917 East Yesler Way.

On December 8, 1856, Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart and four other Sisters of Providence arrived from Montreal to the Washington Territory, at what is now Vancouver, Wash. Mother Joseph was a woman of extraordinary compassion, creativity, skill, vision and deep faith who came to the West with the aim of filling the unmet needs of God's people on the frontier. Under her leadership, more than 30 hospitals, schools and homes were opened for orphans, the elderly and the sick in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and southern British Columbia. In 1977, she became Washington State's second honoree with a statue placed in Statuary Hall in the nation's capital. In addition, her birthdate of April 16 is a Washington state holiday.

"From these beginnings, the sisters and lay collaborators have built an extensive network of health, education and human services; and in celebrating God's favor, we gratefully acknowledge the energy source for all the good that has been accomplished," says Sister Margaret Botch, provincial and Leadership Team coordinator for Mother Joseph Province.

The yearlong celebration, which began last December 8, will conclude December 8, 2006, the actual anniversary date. Other major events are planned in Spokane in August and in Vancouver, Wash., in September.

"We are celebrating much more than the arrival of those first Sisters of Providence in the West," says Sister Joan Gallagher, chair of the 150th Anniversary Committee. "During the 12 months we are recalling, celebrating and giving thanks for all of our sisters' ministries over the last 150 years in the Northwest and for their continuing commitment to serving God's people."

Details on all of the events plus an historic photo gallery and more are available here. Included are service ideas and prayer services that are being used in local gatherings in each region. Extensive historical information and photographs are on the Providence Archives website at www.providence.org/phs/archives.

In the past 150 years, hundreds of Sisters of Providence have continued those first sisters' legacy of compassion, courage and caring in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, California and El Salvador, which together comprise Mother Joseph Province today Among them are the 14 Jubilarians who are celebrating 70, 60, 50 and 25 years as a Sister of Providence in 2006.

The Jubilarians and their current residences are:

  • 70 years Sister Cecile Denis, Seattle and Sister Dorothy Zimny, Spokane;
  • 60 years Sister Inez Arkell, Great Falls, Mont., Sisters Lily May Emert, Clarella Fink, M. Michelle Holland and Marie Emmeline Ladd, Spokane; and Sisters Imelda Flynn and Lorraine Hofmeister, Seattle;
  • 50 years Sisters Joan Campbell, Mary Grondin and Helene Maynard, Seattle; and Sister Lillian Deslauriers, Spokane;
  • 25 years Sister Susan Orlowski, Portland.

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