October 5, 2010
The Most Rev. William S. Skylstad, who recently retired as bishop of the Diocese of Spokane, was presented September 20 with a miniature bronze statue of Mother Joseph, foundress of the Sisters of Providence in the West. The presentation was made by Barbara Savage, president/sponsor of Providence Ministries, and Provincial Superior Karin Dufault, SP. The occasion was a reception hosted by Providence Health Care at the Providence Center for Faith and Healing, on the campus of Sacred Heart Medical Center, to celebrate, honor and thank Bishop Skylstad.
The Mother Joseph statuettes are presented “in honor of significant accomplishments and/or contributions to the Sisters of Providence.” Selection factors may include tenure of service, quality of service, furtherance of the mission of Providence, etc.
Bishop Skylstad was ordained to the priesthood on May 21, 1960, and as a bishop on May 12, 1997. He led the Diocese of Yakima from 1977 to 1990 and the Diocese of Spokane from April 27, 1990, until his retirement this year.
“What a great journey of faith and trust the people of Providence have experienced with your spiritual leadership of both the Church of Yakima and the Church of Spokane over these years,” Savage told the bishop. “Your presence and support of our ministries to the poor and vulnerable brought life to those in need.”
When Mother Joseph and four other Sisters of Providence came to Vancouver, Wash., from Montreal in 1856, Savage said, they received the strong support of Bishop Blanchet. The works of Providence can only be established in a diocese by invitation of the local bishop, she added. “Just as Mother Joseph did, you have been courageous in your stand for truth and justice, yet compassionate in care of those in need,” Savage told Bishop Skylstad.
Only 100 of the miniature statues were 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. Mother Joseph is 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.