Longtime Providence High School educator Rafael Vega is awarded the Mother Joseph statue – w/photo

August 3, 2017


Jennifer E. Roseman, Director of Communications & Development
(509) 474-2395 or (509) 994-5032
For photo availability, contact Jennifer Roseman

Rafael “Rafe” Vega retired in June after 44 years at Providence High School (PHS) in Burbank and 49 years of teaching. Among the things he took with him was a miniature bronze statue of Mother Joseph that he received on June 25 from the Sisters of Providence and Providence Ministries, the sponsors of the Providence Health & Services health care, education and social services ministries.

The statue Rafe received is one of only 100 cast by Felix W. de Weldon, who created the statue of Mother Joseph that has been housed in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol since 1980. The statue depicts Mother Joseph kneeling next to tools she used to make architectural drawings for construction of hospitals and schools in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and southern British Columbia. The mini statues are presented in recognition of significant accomplishments and/or contributions to the Sisters of Providence.

Rafe began teaching at PHS before the school was 15 years old. He arrived in September 1968 and, except for a four-year period, dedicated himself to touching the lives of students in U.S. history and U.S. government classes. He introduced them to social ethics/justice in their junior year and to world religions in their senior year. Beyond the classroom, he chaired the Social Studies and Religion departments, was part of the Administrative Team, and dean of students for five years, three of them as vice principal. He also served as director of campus ministry. At age 65, when many people would be preparing for retirement, Rafe asked to go back to classroom teaching and to his beloved students.