Sister Matthew Marie, SSMO
Chloe Keitges, SP
Pioneering the role of “play lady,” in pediatrics at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Sister Chloe Keitges nearly matched her young charges in height and in energy level. The role fit her so well that she repeated it at Providence Hospital in Everett.
Born May 1, 1937, in Danbury, Iowa, she was drawn to serve the poor, the needy and the lonely. At age 16 she became a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon and spent 20 years in that community, including 15 years as a primary grade teacher at St. Andrew’s Parish in Portland.
A Providence sister invited her to a monthlong theology course and later Sister Chloe began a two-year transfer process while teaching third grade at St. Finbar School in Burbank, Calif., and then living in Seattle with Providence sisters.
Tired of teaching, but loved the children
“I was tired of teaching, but I loved the children,” Sister Chloe recalled. Gonzaga University’s CREDO program in Spokane recharged her energy and enthusiasm, just in time to begin her “play lady” role with cancer patients and children in long-term care. “I got to do all the fun things with the children; I didn’t have to teach them,” she said. Her ministry in Everett was with less severely ill children.
Sister Chloe studied pastoral care at Providence Medical Center, Portland, Ore., before returning to Seattle to provide pastoral care for the elderly at Providence Mount St. Vincent, and then was director of pastoral care at St. Joseph Hospital, Aberdeen, Wash. She returned to Mount St. Vincent in pastoral care and then was asked to help start a healing ministry at Still Point House of Prayer, in Seattle. As its director, she organized 20 prayer groups and took healing teams into the prison and jail.
Years passed quickly
She helped out at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle, for a while and then went to Yakima to try to start a house of prayer there. She lived with the sisters at Casa Guadalupe and volunteered next door at Casa Hogar to teach English as a Second Language. She also opened a clothes closet in the garage, in addition to jail ministry to women, healing ministry, serving as church sacristan, providing outreach to the elderly, working at two food banks and taking Spanish language classes.
For the last 10 years, Sister Chloe has lived at Emilie Court in Spokane and is sacristan in the chapel at Mount St. Joseph. She volunteers at the area Healing Center and in the kitchen at St. Anne’s Children & Family Center. “I don’t cook, but I’m happy to do dishes and help serve.”
She says of her 60 years of religious life, “It went fast!” Things she is looking forward to this Jubilee year include a week with her brother and family in Florida and a spiritual retreat.