Sister Chloe Keitges has a ministry of prayer and presence at Emilie Court in Spokane, Washington. She also is sacristan at Mount St. Joseph Chapel and volunteers at St. Anne’s Children and Family Center. Her varied background has led her to serve in schools, hospitals, and prisons.
Currently, Sister Chloe lives and shares in the religious community in Spokane, after spending many years in Yakima.
She relaxes by watching musicals and comedies on TV. She enjoys making greeting cards in a variety of media, which also gives her a chance to put her calligraphy skills to good use. When she takes a vacation, it’s usually to the seashore.
What things did you do when you entered the Sisters of Providence?
I transferred from another community to the Sisters of Providence. In that community, I was trained in teaching. When I joined the Sisters of Providence, I didn’t think teaching was my real ministry, but it’s been invaluable for whatever ministries I have been in or chosen to do.
I was given a year for a sabbatical and went to the CREDO program in Spokane. One of the things I was allowed to do there that was a real joy was to work in pediatrics at Sacred Heart Medical Center.
When I made my formal transfer, I wanted to return to Sacred Heart. I was given charge of the emotional care of the children. It was so much fun. It was like all the fun things about teaching.
What kinds of things did you do with the kids?
We played. Almost every morning we had parades and we paraded around the hall. We had balloons and hats and wagons. The children who had to stay in bed got to see the parade from their rooms. Sometimes we had parties, or I would go around to the rooms of the children who couldn’t get up and play games or just talk. I called it pastoral care for children.
What were some gratifying moments in that ministry?
One of the things I encountered working in pediatrics was to discover child abuse, and whenever there was physical or sexual abuse where they were taken away from their parents, they referred them to me. I could give them special emotional attention that they needed because the nurses were busy.
So we talked, or played, or I’d hold them when they needed it so badly. Some children I carried around with me all day long. Miracles would happen because of that! It was a very gratifying work.
How did you get involved in the healing ministry?
I went though Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training in Portland and was offered a job at Mount St. Vincent. Afterwards, I was invited to be Director of CPE in Aberdeen, but I felt it wasn’t my calling.
After two years, I was asked to go to Stillpoint, a house of prayer and healing ministry. I had been trained in healing ministry and it was a two-year program. I was there for four years and had 20 prayer teams.
I worked at the King County Jail and at Washington State Reformatory in Monroe, with the healing ministry. That was very rewarding. I followed through on a lot of the guys who left the jail and had to go to prison.
When did you go to Yakima?
After I left Stillpoint, I went to work at St. Joseph Residence in Seattle and one day Sister Roberta Rorke asked if I would like to move to Yakima to serve the poor. She said the people of Yakima would like a prayer presence and wanted the sisters to live in their neighborhood. That neighborhood was so poor and infiltrated with gangs.
Have the residents accepted the sisters?
I really feel that even though this is a violent neighborhood, the people have been very respectful of us as sisters. Having the picture out there (in the garden) of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been a good thing. You?ll see the older ladies and children come and bow or make the sign of the cross. They have a great respect for Our Lady.
What is your main ministry in Yakima?
I’ve been in prayer ministry. I’ve been involved in jail ministry, English as a Second Language, tutoring, prayer groups. The healing ministry has always been close to my heart because it touches the hearts of the poor, the needy. They say, “Set the captives free” — that’s what I feel I’m doing.
What have been your greatest joys?
I think all of it has been a joy. I am so grateful that the Sisters of Providence have allowed me to pursue my spiritual self. I do a lot of other things, too, but the healing ministry has been very important. Everything I’ve done, I’ve enjoyed.
Do you think most people are closer to their spirituality?
More people realize it. The wounded don’t know they need it, but if you just tap into that spirituality, everyone finds that it is important. There are so many walking wounded, wounded in the sense that they are spiritually wounded, emotionally wounded, or physically wounded. Those are all areas for prayer ministry.
Some children I carried around with me all day long. Miracles would happen because of that! It was a very gratifying work.