Spokane Sisters Offer Support, Prayers

When someone in the community celebrates a birthday, Sr. Chole Keitges makes a special banner with their name on it to display at Mass. 

It is just one of the many things that the Sisters do to help each other in the two Spokane communities.

After busy ministries throughout their lives, Sisters of Providence at Emilie Court still remain in service in any way they can.  Sr. Chole, for instance, also serves as the Mt. Saint Joseph Chapel’s sacristan which is reminiscent of her service in pastoral care.  

After detailing her many assignments – supervising play at Sacred Heart Medical Center for ill children was one of her favorites – she also mentions the 17 years she spent in jail ministry.  Asked how she found the time to fit it in to an already busy schedule she nonchalantly replied: “Oh, I did it on Saturdays.”

That’s characteristic of a Sister of Providence – service, followed by more service, with a generous portion of volunteer service on the side.

Sr. Myrta flanked by two big fans (aka safety officers from Catholic Charities.) With 52 residents in the Buder Haven community, Sister and the other staff at Catholic Charities have learned to deal with the often challenging situations that arise.

Sr. Myrta Iturriaga, for instance, has worked for Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington for more than 20 years.  Currently, she is at the Buder Haven complex which provides 50 service-enriched units for homeless persons.

As the oldest of 13 children, she knows how to handle the sometimes challenging homeless population but she does so in a calm and respectful way, recognizing the dignity of each individual.  Prior to her work with Catholic Charities, she created and coordinated the prison ministry for the Diocese of Spokane.

Sr. Judith George was also the oldest in her family of seven siblings.  She taught French, algebra and English during her ministry, often completing her degrees during multiple summer sessions sandwiched between ongoing teaching assignments.  She’s also been a formation and novice director.

It is often said that strong families help promote vocations and Sr. Judith’s family certainly lends credence to that assertion.  She and her brothers and sisters meet via video every other Sunday night for a faith sharing session.  Even the strongest of families would be challenged to maintain such close contacts over so many years.

Deep joy is something Sisters have found in Sr. Eleanor Goligoski who has been living at Emilie Court for about a year and a half now.  She has had the unique opportunity to work in another province, spending three years at the Providence Renewal Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, as their registrar. 

Back row (l to r): Sr. Myrta, Sr. Chloe, Sr. Judith, Sr. Ida Mae, Sr. Annette.  Seated (l – r): Sr. Liz Gress, Sr. Liz Cole, Sr. Elena

Like many Sisters, she spent time in the classroom but she worked mainly in business, bookkeeping and finance roles.

Sr. Liz Gress spent twenty years guiding novices. Beginning in 1996, she lived and taught women entering the congregation at Nally House, the novitiate for St. Ignatius, Sacred Heart and Holy Angels provinces.

Guiding the novices is something that must have come naturally for her after 27 years of teaching, many at Maryville Academy, just north of Chicago, which provides residential care, mental health services and other services for traumatized children.

Sr. Liz Cole also helped to guide young people, through her work in campus ministry at Gonzaga University.  She has also worked as a spiritual director in guiding people through the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) program.  She is now spending time managing the library at Mt. Saint Joseph and is the driving force behind the Province’s Instagram account.

Ask a Sister of Providence which ministry she enjoyed the most and you often hear a variation on the same answer: “I enjoyed all of them.”  Sr. Annette Seubert is no different.  She has worked in chaplaincy, finance, spiritual direction and nursing.  She has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences and a Masters in Creation Spirituality.

“As a chaplain, my main ministry was presence,” she said.

And it is that presence that characterizes a Sister of Providence.  They are there when the need arises.  In fact, that sums up the current activities of Sr. Ida Mae Marceau, the local leader of the Emilie Court Community.

“I try to be present to the ladies and gentleman who come to Emilie Court,” she explained.  “Not just to the Sisters who live there but to other residents and visitors as well.”

After a career in nursing and teaching, Sr. Ida Mae has served the residents of Mount Sr. Joseph then Emilie Court since the 1990s. Many of the Sisters in the community specifically mentioned the dedication and care she demonstrates for the people in Emilie Court.

Sr. Annette is a member of the Rahamin Community as are Sisters Rosalie Locati, Ana Orellana and Sue Orlowski who were elsewhere during this interview with the Sisters.  All other Sisters in this article are with the Emilie Court Community.