Sixteen Sisters of Providence mark 25 to 75 years of religious life

May 30, 2018


CONTACT: Jennifer E. Roseman, Director of Communications & Development
(509) 474-2395 or (509) 994-5032

Sixteen Sisters of Providence will mark 25, 50, 60, 70 and 75 years of religious life at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, August 4, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, 7000 35th Avenue SW, Seattle. Reverend John R. Walmesley will be the celebrant for the liturgy, which will be followed by a reception in the parish hall.

75 years

Rita Bergamini, SP
(Sister Marie Carmen)

Sister Rita Bergamini was born in Martinez, California, to Italian immigrant parents and was the first archivist of the former Sacred Heart Province. Rita was a registered nurse at Providence Hospital in Oakland, California, when she entered the Sisters of Providence novitiate at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle, in 1943. Her sibling, Sister Evelyn Bergamini, had entered 10 years before.

Sister Rita served in nursing ministry in Portland, Yakima, Walla Walla and Seattle University School of Nursing. She was serving seven years as provincial secretary when a Jesuit priest who was an archivist explained how to organize documents and historical items that were kept in a small storage area. In 1972 Sister Rita suggested the creation of permanent archives. She was the keeper of the province’s history for the next 20 years and then for another seven years working with special projects in the archives. She ended her formal ministry in 1999.

Irene Charron, SP
(Sister Ann)

Sister Irene Charron was born in Duluth, Minnesota, to a French-Canadian father and a Norwegian mother who moved the family to Yakima, where she attended St. Joseph Academy. After graduation, she attended Seattle University for a year and then taught second grade for a year at St. Joseph before entering the religious community.

Sister Irene taught grade school in Vancouver, Fairbanks, and then back at St. Joseph. Other teaching assignments were in Sun Valley, California; Moxee City, Washington; and Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, Illinois. She later transitioned to payroll and office tasks at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle, and then moved to the College of Sister Formation in Issaquah, Washington, where she handled the switchboard, scheduled and planned retreats and worked in the library. Later she was librarian at Providence High School in Burbank. She worked at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Yakima, Washington, for 34 years and continued there as a volunteer after she retired. Sister Irene was sister representative and medical librarian at Providence Yakima Medical Center for 17 years, in addition to visiting patients at convalescent centers.

Rita Ferschweiler, SP
(Sister Mary Laureen)

This year marks Sister Rita Ferschweiler’s 75th year of religious life and also her 100th birthday. She has spent a lifetime caring for others in nursing, hospital administration and pastoral care. She was born in St. Louis, Oregon, on the family farm near Gervais. Rita met the Sisters of Providence while working at St. Vincent Hospital in Portland, after graduating from Mount Angel Academy and working on the farm and in a cannery. She entered the religious community in 1943 at Mount St. Vincent in Seattle.

Sister Rita served primarily as a medical-surgical nurse in Seattle, Fairbanks, Anchorage and Yakima. She arrived at St. Vincent Hospital in Portland as a nurse in 1956 and then was director of nursing services. After becoming its administrator in 1964, she guided construction and the move to St. Vincent’s new 451-bed hospital and medical center. Among her accolades are being named by The Oregon Journal as one of Oregon’s ten women of accomplishment in 1971.

She left St. Vincent’s in 1972, the last Sister of Providence to serve as an administrator of a Portland hospital. She served in ministry at St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, at Mount St. Vincent in Seattle, and later on the Provincial Council. She returned to Portland, living on the Providence Portland Medical Center campus and continuing her volunteer ministry until she moved to Seattle in 2011.

Lucy Villanova, SP
(Sister Mary Eugenius)

Born in the Chicago area, Lucille Villanova lost her mother before she was 2 and she and her sister were taken to St. Mary’s Training School in Des Plaines, Illinois, (now Maryville Academy) when Lucy was 10. She first met the Sisters of Providence there and entered the religious community at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle, in 1942, professing first vows in 1943.

Her first mission was the care of young children ages 3 to 12 at Providence Academy in Vancouver, Washington. For 30 years, she taught elementary, junior high and high school students in Washington, Alaska and California. In 1967 she returned to her alma mater, the College of Great Falls, to teach art techniques to teachers. Sister Lucy ended her teaching years in 1974 and took on other art projects, as well as working as a staff artist for Catholic Communications Northwest in Seattle. For 16 years she served at Providence High School in Burbank as receptionist, artist-in-residence, alumni director, assistant public relations director and assistant director of development.

70 years

Mary Clare Boland, SP
(Sister Mary Wilfrid)

Born in Seattle, Mary Clare Boland was taught by the Sisters of Providence at Holy Family School and entered the religious community in 1947 after graduating from Holy Rosary High School. She professed first vows in 1949 and was a patient visitor for several months at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. Next, she taught grades 5-8 at St. Joseph Academy in Sprague, Washington, and then continued teaching in Wallace, Idaho; Missoula and Great Falls, Montana; Seattle, Washington; and Sun Valley, California. She also served at Providence Heights in Issaquah, Washington, directing the education bloc and teaching practicum for junior sisters.

Sister Mary Clare was drawn to spiritual care ministry when she became a patient due to neck and back problems that required frequent surgeries and rehabilitation. In 1973 she began a more than 20-year ministry of caring for older sisters at St. Joseph Residence (SJR), Seattle, holding jobs from driver to superior. She worked in pastoral care at Providence Hospital, Seattle, and was director of the pastoral care program at St. Peter’s Hospital in Olympia, Washington. She returned to SJR as assistant superior and then took over pastoral care at Providence Hospital, Seattle, in 1990. She retired in 2007.

Dolores Ellwart, SP
(Sister Camilla)

Sister Dolores Ellwart was born in DeSmet, Idaho, in 1929 and ministered to Native American families on the reservation for 40 years before moving to Spokane in 2013. Her father was foreman of a dairy farm owned by the Sisters of Providence and her mother was a nurse and an enrolled member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Dolores attended grade school at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Tekoa, Washington, and high school as a boarder at Holy Names Academy in Spokane. After graduation, she entered the Sisters of Providence in Seattle.

Sister Dolores taught in various grade schools in the former Sacred Heart and St. Ignatius provinces before returning to DeSmet in 1965, where she taught all of the grades at Mary Immaculate School until they were split into two grades apiece. She also was superior and principal. When the school closed in 1974, she became parish minister at Sacred Heart Mission. She also chaired the school board at the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s school. Sister Dolores prepared children for First Communion and Confirmation, taught religious education to youth and adults, and visited the elderly and the homebound in Worley, Plummer and DeSmet, Idaho.

Jeannette Parent, SP
(Sister Blasius)

Jeannette Parent and her twin sister Annette were born in Baker, Montana, in 1922 to French-Canadian parents from Quebec. Both girls joined the religious community in 1942, but eye problems caused Sister Jeannette to leave and re-enter in 1948.

After living in Springdale, Washington, Jeannette was a junior at Marycliff High School in Spokane and a senior at St. Joseph Academy in Sprague, Washington. She entered the religious community and made first vows at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle. She was assigned to Sacred Heart Province and to a first ministry in the sisters’ infirmary there. Two years later she was a patient visitor at St. Vincent Hospital in Portland, Oregon; and then at Providence Hospital, Seattle. After nurse’s training she served as an LPN back at Mount St. Vincent, at St. Mary Hospital in Astoria, Oregon, and at Providence Hospital, Everett, Washington. Reassigned to the former St. Ignatius Province in 1972 so she could help care for her parents, she served at St. Clare Hospital, Fort Benton, Montana; and then at Mount St. Joseph sisters’ infirmary and at St. Joseph Care Center, both in Spokane. Sister Jeannette retired in 1995 but continued to volunteer at St. Joseph Care Center and elsewhere before moving to Seattle. Her twin sister died in 2009.

Alice St. Hilaire, SP
(Sister Mary Georgetta)

Born at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Yakima, Sister Alice St. Hilaire grew up on the family farm in Wapato, Washington, and was educated by the Sisters of Providence at St. Joseph Academy in Yakima, as were her mother and grandmother. After graduation she stayed on the farm for a year and a half to help her mother, and then entered the religious community in 1948 in Seattle. Her sister Lucy, a year younger, entered six months later. Sister Alice taught primary grades and music in Missoula, Montana; Walla Walla, Washington; Fairbanks, Alaska; and Seattle, Washington. Later she taught philosophy at the College of Sister Formation of Seattle University at Providence Heights and on the university’s downtown campus.

Sister Alice was chosen for the Sisters of Providence’s first Formation Team and was honored for her lifelong commitment to formation ministry by the National Religious Formation Conference in 2004. She also served on the Provincial Council and at Providence Hospitality House in Seattle. In 1990 she returned to the Yakima Valley to care for her mother until her death two years later. Her sibling Sister Lucy died in 2013.

60 years

Susanne Hartung, SP
(Sister Joel)

Born in Portland, Oregon, Sister Susanne Hartung entered the religious community in 1957 at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle, made first profession in 1959 and enrolled in the new College of Sister Formation. For 25 years she taught in Catholic schools in Vancouver, Seattle and Olympia, Washington; Anchorage, Alaska; and Burbank, California. In 1987 she began 31 years in health care in mission and ethics at Providence Seattle Medical Center (now Swedish), followed by Providence Health System’s board of directors. Today she is chief mission integration officer for Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH), charged with sustaining the mission and culture of the Sisters of Providence and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange.

Sister Susanne developed the mission ambassador program, working with six Seattle partners aiding the homeless: Union Gospel Mission, Tukwila School for kids at risk, Joseph House, the Des Moines Food Bank, Hope Place, Mother Joseph Farm, and Providence Regina House. She also is on the faculty for the PSJH program that sets direction for the leaders, and works with all the leadership teams to strengthen their commitment to the mission, values and heritage.

Patricia Hauser, SP
(Sister Christiana)

Sister Pat Hauser was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and moved to Bellingham, Washington, where her family became the city’s first foster home, caring for 116 children of all ages. Pat lived at home and helped out while working part time and attending Western Washington College (now University). After her college graduation, she entered the novitiate in 1957. After professing first vows and finishing her teaching courses at the College of Sister Formation, she taught for six years in Seattle and Vancouver, Washington, and in Sun Valley, California.

Sister Pat was on the religious community’s first Formation Team for five years and then did counseling and supervision of foster homes for Catholic Charities. She worked with alcoholics at Sundown M Ranch and later returned as part-time chaplain. Next she did alcoholism education and outreach for the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska, spending a winter in a Native village. Sister Pat was director of the sisters’ Sojourner Place ministry for homeless single women in Seattle and then was a psychotherapist for eight years at the House of Affirmation in-patient treatment center in Montara, California. .After a year at an affiliate program, Heronbrook House, in England, she returned to Montara as assistant director and psychotherapist. After ministry with individuals with HIV/AIDS and to the disabled at Providence House in Oakland, California, she sought a time of solitude and contemplative prayer. She spent six months in India and then moved to Forks, Washington, where she became a part-time patient visitor and on-call chaplain for a hospice program. A year ago she moved to St. Joseph Residence, Seattle.

Charlene Hudon, SP
(Sister Charlene Marie)

Born in Ellensburg, Washington, Sister Charlene Hudon grew up in Yakima, Tumwater and finally Wapato, Washington, where their father bought a 60-acre apple orchard. After graduation, she entered the Sisters of Providence at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle. She made first profession and then spent two years in Everett, Washington, before moving to the new Providence Heights in Issaquah, Washington. She taught for 13 years, the last five as physical education instructor at Providence High School in Burbank, California, and then for 11 years she was a physical therapist assistant with the elderly at Mount St. Vincent in Seattle. From 1978 to 1981 she was a resident team member at Providence Hospitality House, a Seattle transitional shelter for homeless women and children. In 1987, after Spanish language studies in Bolivia, she moved to Mount Vernon, Washington, to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) at Skagit Valley College for the next 16 years.

Sister Charlene, now retired, is a longtime member of the Providence Peace Community and is Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) coordinator for Mother Joseph Province. In that role, she keeps sisters informed about social-justice issues and activities.

Pauline Lemaire, SP
(Sister Celine of Jesus)

Sister Pauline Lemaire was born in Moxee, Washington, to French-Canadian parents and was taught by Sister Mary Leona Miller in the first grade. After graduation from Holy Rosary High School, she entered the religious community at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle, in 1957 and professed first vows in 1959. For 14 years she taught primary grades in parochial schools in Sun Valley, California, and in Tacoma and Seattle, Washington. She also taught in a Montessori school in Portland, Oregon. After a sabbatical for a scriptural study program in Jerusalem, she returned to Yakima to teach ESL to farmworkers at Yakima Valley Community College, which she continued as a volunteer after a layoff. She also did adult home care.

Sister Pauline was asked in 2003 to go to El Salvador to teach English to then-Salvadoran postulants Vilma Franco and Margarita Hernandez. While there, Sister Pauline was moved by the needs of the children and returned to Spokane to take an intensive Spanish language course. She returned to El Salvador in 2007 and, using donations, began a small children’s library on the front porch of the sisters’ house. She returned to the United States in 2012 and to St. Joseph Residence in 2015.

Charlotte (Therese) Multz, SP
(Sister Victoria)

Sister Therese Multz was born to a third-generation Yugoslavian family in Sioux City, Iowa, and moved to Yakima, Washington, at age 5. She was a freshman at Yakima Valley Junior College when she entered the novitiate, and she professed first vows in 1959. Her first mission was teaching fourth graders in Tacoma for one month and then for 20 years she taught primarily in the middle grades and in all subjects in Tacoma, Vancouver, Yakima and Seattle, Washington; Burbank and Sun Valley, California; and Fairbanks, Alaska.

Moved by her students’ personal needs, Sister Therese earned a master’s degree in psychology. She became a mental health therapist with a specialty in using creative arts in healing after a serious head injury ended her teaching career. She served at a group home for criminally delinquent boys on the San Juan Islands and then became activities director for the sisters at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle. She also served in ministry at a psychiatric hospital in Kirkland, Washington, and was a volunteer at the Women’s Drop-In Center in Spokane before moving to Seattle. She was one of the founders of Youth Associates of the Providence Sisters (YAPS), a ministry group based at Kennedy High School for junior and senior high school students doing community service work in the late 1980s.

Dona Taylor, SP
(Sister Donna Marie)

Sister Dona Taylor was born on the family farm in West Wapato in the Yakima Valley and attended school in White Swan, on the Yakima Indian Reservation. As a student at Seattle University, she attended a novitiate open house and later entered the religious community that included two of her aunts, Sisters Blanche and Violet Dufault. She became one of the young sisters living in Everett, Washington, and commuting to Seattle University for classes. She completed studies for a liberal arts degree at the new Providence Heights campus and then a nursing degree while living at Providence Hospital in Seattle. Her first missions were in critical and coronary care units at Providence Hospital in Medford, Oregon, and at St. Vincent Hospital in Portland.

In 1969 she was elected to the Provincial Council of the former Sacred Heart Province, serving for six years as director of health and social services. She later became the first president of the Providence Health and Social Services Corporation. After a program of theological renewal at Seattle University, she began an MBA program and then a position as assistant administrator at Providence Hospital, Anchorage. She also served as administrator at Providence Hospital, Oakland, and at Providence Medical Center, Anchorage. She planned, developed and ran WomanSpirit, a spirituality center for women in Seattle, and then spent 10 years in Hermiston, Oregon, raising rabbits, goats and chickens, and providing vegetables and eggs for the food bank. She returned to Yakima three years ago to be a presence for people who are poor and homeless.

50 years

Kathleen (Kaye) Belcher, SP

Sister Kaye Belcher was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, and entered the Sisters of Providence in 1968. She began her health-care career as a nurse’s aide in medical/orthopedics, advancing to a nurse in the alcohol detox center, followed by ministry as a registered nurse and later as clinical nurse manager of a medical unit. Her ministry experiences include serving as director of mission integration for Providence Alaska Medical Center and Mary Conrad Center in Anchorage, and as mission integration director for Providence’s Alaska region. She also was involved with Alaska Safe Kids.

Sister Kaye also served in Yakima as assistant director for nursing at St. Elizabeth Medical Center, and as manager of low-cost housing for the elderly at Providence House. In Seattle, she was director of Providence Hospitality House. She also served at Providence Hospital in Medford, Oregon, and Providence Hospital in Portland, Oregon.

She was a Leadership Team member for Mother Joseph Province from 2005 to 2009, and then was assistant administrator at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle. Today she is a volunteer at the Senior Center of West Seattle.

25 years

Julia (Julie) Macasieb, SP
Manila, Philippines

Sister Julie Macasieb was born in Binmaley, Pangasinan, Philippines, and entered the Sisters of Providence in 1991. She was the first Filipina to have her formation in the Philippines. Currently, she is the ministry head on the pastoral care for migrants and itinerant people in the Archdiocese of Lingayen- Dagupan. She also is a consultant and spiritual counselor for the Women’s Center in Dagupan City, and director of the pastoral program at St. Michael the Archangel Parish.

Sister Julie was on the Leadership and Formation teams for the former Our Lady of Providence Vice-Province in the Philippines. She also has served in campus ministry at Holy Trinity Academy, St. Jude Catholic School, University of the City of Manila, Mapúa Institute of Technology, Philippine Normal University, and Manuel L. Quezon University. All are within the Archdiocese of Manila.