End of an era

Ritual marks closure of health-care unit at Mount St. Joseph

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Sister Claire Bouffard
Nurses Donna Hubbard (left) and Jeanne Bornholdt (right) help Sister Claire Bouffard prepare for her journey to Seattle.
The Leadership Team of Mother Joseph Province made a decision in the fall of 2011 to begin transferring Sisters of Providence from Mount St. Joseph to St. Joseph Residence (SJR) in Seattle. The declining number of sisters in the Spokane health-care unit made it no longer feasible to continue to operate it. Sisters were to be transferred as space became available in Seattle.

Names rang out spontaneously for several minutes in the chapel at Mount St. Joseph in Spokane the evening of January 28. Those gathered were remembering those had who lived or ministered in the building’s fourth-floor health-care unit since 1957. The Reflective Litany of Naming lent a deep solemnity to the ritual marking its closure. In January, the last sister remaining at Mount St. Joseph, Sister Claire Bouffard, made the transition to SJR. Her move came not long after ones for Sisters Jeannette Parent and Dorothy Zimny. While they have left their home in Spokane, they have rejoined other sisters who preceded them to the west side.

Sisters Jeanette Parent and Lily May Emert
Sister Jeannette Parent listens at her missioning ceremony as Sister Lily May Emert talks about their time together.
Sister Kathryn Rutan offered a moving reflection entitled “Epiphany times three … ” An excerpt follows.The special ceremony of remembrance and blessing was presided over by Father Stan Malnar, MD, PA, standing in for Father Severyn Westbrook, who was ill. The theme for the evening was “The Glory of the Lord Has Set You Ablaze with Light.” Participants included sisters, associates, Mount St. Joseph employees, current and former Provincial Administration staff, and friends.

Read the full homily.

This evening, we are paying homage to and recognizing the Epiphanies of life and healing that have marked the Health Care Unit of Mount St. Joseph.

We are remembering and thanking God for the brilliance and the blessings that have accompanied the sisters and personnel in the holy and sacred space that is the Health Care Unit at Mount St. Joseph.

Sisters Dorothy Zimny and Ida Mae Marceau
Sister Dorothy Zimny gets settled into the car she will ride to St. Joseph Residence in with Sister Ida Mae Marceau (right).

We are celebrating the friendships that flourished here and rejoicing in the love, tenderness and compassion that flowed, day and night, for fifty five years, in the place that is the Health Care Unit of Mount St. Joseph.

We are remembering and honoring the many sisters and others whose last days on earth were lived here.

We are remembering and thanking those sisters who recently moved from Mount St. Joseph to St. Joseph Residence in Seattle.

We are honoring and thanking all who those who have served at Mount St. Joseph as care-givers, administrators, support staff and as members of the community life teams … so many persons, so many moments of grace and goodness, so many Epiphanies that have been lived.

At the close of the ritual, Father Malnar, accompanied by a small number of sisters and employees, went to the fourth floor to bless the space for all those who had a presence there in the past and for those who will use the space in the future. The reception that followed, prepared by the dietary staff at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, was an occasion to embrace old friends and to share memories of years gone by.