Jubilee 2021 – Mary K. Cummings, SP – 70th

Mary K. Cummings, SP – 60th

Sister Mary K., as she is fondly known, moved to Spokane from Northport, Wash., near the Canadian border, when she was 10. She has always known women religious, having been taught by the Sisters of the Holy Names in grade school and by the Franciscan sisters at Marycliff High School. One of her aunts was Sister Frances Maureen, SP. While attending Holy Names College, a local priest said he thought she had a vocation.

Knowing that she did not want to teach, Sister Mary K. was drawn to the possibility of other ministries with the Sisters of Providence. But after making first vows in 1952, she found herself at the front of an elementary school classroom. She taught fifth through eighth grades for eight years, in Missoula, Mont., Wallace and DeSmet, Idaho, and Great Falls, Mont. “As a teacher, I was young, inexperienced and unprepared,” she recalled, “but I liked the variety and being with the children.”

Other ministries include finance at the then College of Great Falls, teaching high school, serving as treasurer of the former St. Ignatius Province, parish ministry in Hayward, Calif., and nine years as director of pastoral care and volunteers at a small rural hospital in Polson, Mont., while also serving as a part-time provincial council member.

Through the years, she took courses at seven universities and colleges, including Notre Dame and the University of California at Berkeley. Sister Mary K. later earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Great Falls and an MBA at Gonzaga University, Spokane.

After retiring in 2013, she assisted the elderly at Mount St. Joseph and Emilie Court, Spokane. Sister Mary K. also delighted in being a part-time volunteer in the religious community’s Spokane library. As a college student, she had wanted to become a librarian, but with no nearby library school she took general subjects instead.           

“Over the years I’ve done a little bit of everything, but with no depth in anything.”  She recalled with special fondness a single winter spent in DeSmet, where the simplicity of the life and of the people caught this country girl’s heart.

In 2018, Sister Mary K. graciously made the transition from Emilie Court to St. Joseph Residence in Seattle. She relishes the view over Puget Sound and, frequently, the beautiful sunsets. Her gentle spirit touches everyone near her.

Sister Mary K. greets this 70th Jubilee year “with a great deal of joy and gratitude to God for calling me to this way of life and introducing me to being of service.” And she is glad for the period of religious life in which she has lived, pre- and post-Vatican II. “It has sometimes been a difficult time, but I’ve made it. I wouldn’t have without the love and support of the community.”