Special luncheon for the sisters

Sisters honored at 175th anniversary luncheon

Sisters gathered in Spokane for a special luncheon honoring them in celebration of the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of Providence.

On Friday, August 10, more than a dozen Sisters of Providence were feted at a luncheon in Spokane to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of Providence. Hosted by Providence Health Care in Spokane, the sisters were welcomed by Elaine Couture, executive VP/regional chief executive for the Washington/Montana Region.

Elaine thanked the sisters for their combined hundreds of years of service and for being role models for women at Providence who are asked to step into leadership roles. “You paved the way for us,” she said.

The sisters feasted on a special meal prepared by Sacred Heart’s Chef Josh Stidman: baked chicken, asparagus wraps, fresh fruit, home potatoes and delicious special sauces. Lunch was capped off with a 175th anniversary cake.

The luncheon was held at 9 East 9th Avenue on the fifth floor, the former Mount St. Joseph residence where sisters gathered for decades in community. Several senior leaders and mission leaders attended, as well.

The event began with a reflection written for the occasion by Becky Nappi, mission director for Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. Printed on decorated, colorful paper as a keepsake for the sisters, it read:

Picture some rivers. The St. Lawrence River in Montreal, the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington, and our own beautiful Spokane River.

It was 175 years ago that the Sisters of Providence emerged from history’s bedrock, emerged from healing river waters, growing and thriving beyond imagination.

How do a handful of Sisters journey from such small beginnings to change education and health care along river towns, cities, prairie villages throughout the world? It’s as if Jesus did a loaves and fishes miracle in modern history, beginning in 1843 in Montreal and continuing to this day.

Our founding and pioneer Sisters — Mother Gamelin and Mother Joseph — faced some sorrows, yes, and cried some tears, perhaps by the edges of those rivers. For Emilie, children and husband lost forever. For Mother Joseph, who traded Montreal for Vancouver, homeland and family left behind forever.

Their sorrows, disappointments and frustrations didn’t wash away the love of Christ that impelled them. They built hospitals and schools with prayers, hopes and donations that appeared just in time.

Upon their legacy, we continue their work. We treasure the Sisters of Providence still with us today, some in this room, these Bedrocks of History, these River Keepers, these Legacy Translators, these Multipliers of Loaves and Fishes.

Thank you, Divine Providence, for 175 years with our Sisters of Providence. We are greedy. Can we have 175 more? And then some? Thank you in advance. Amen.