60 Years: Mary Catherine McGuire, SP

(Sister Mary Margaret)

Sister Mary Catherine McGuire is no stranger to challenges. She witnessed the 1962 Columbus Day storm in Vancouver, Wash., the 1964 Good Friday earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska, and the eruption of Mount St. Helens across the Columbia River from Portland in 1980. But those were nothing. Fresh out of the novitiate, her first teaching assignment was a class of rambunctious second graders at St. Joseph Grade School in Yakima, Wash.

Over the next 15 years she taught six different grades in nine different places. “We made profession and went where we were assigned,” she explained. “You did whatever you were asked to do, and you were joyful because of the sisters you worked with.”

Challenges born of change

The challenges included changes wrought by consolidation of three Catholic schools in Yakima: St. Joseph’s, Carroll High School and Marquette. All were great learning experiences.

Born in Providence Hospital in Everett in 1933, she grew up on a dairy farm in rural Snohomish. After high school and a year of college, she transferred to Seattle University. There, with Sisters of Providence as classmates, she made her first retreat and learned about religious life. “There was a spirit about the school, the students, faculty and priests, which encouraged me to consider a vocation to religious life.”

She entered the novitiate after a postulancy at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle, and professed first vows in 1956. She taught in Yakima, Seattle, Vancouver and Olympia, Wash.; Anchorage, Alaska; Burbank, Calif.; and Portland, Ore.

Her last ministry was her favorite ministry

Other ministries included parish work and as a receptionist at St. Peter’s Hospital in Olympia, Wash., and in the Providence corporate offices. For 20 years she served in pastoral services, loving the opportunity to talk and share with one person at a time. She was a chaplain and pastoral team member at hospitals in Portland, Burbank and Seattle. She also volunteered with community college English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, assisted in the Sisters of Providence library. She continues a volunteer music ministry at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle.

Perhaps her favorite ministry was her final one, part-time chaplain at Providence ElderPlace in Seattle. “The people were receptive to whatever was offered to them in an open atmosphere of spiritual care. Anyone was free to come or not to come.”

This year, Sister Mary Catherine is anticipating a quiet Jubilee celebration, “nothing big, for sure,” spent with family and friends.

“Jubilee means celebrating God’s fidelity though the years, realizing the many graces that have helped us live out our commitment and accomplish God’s work. This Jubilee year is a special time to give thanks for the graces of my family, the sisters and all the persons I have met throughout these 60 years.”