Yakima Sisters Are Immersed in the Life of the City and Valley

The Sisters of Providence community in Yakima strives to be a ministry of peace and prayer in a troubled area of the city.  Six people have been murdered within a block of their residence over the years.  Even today, the Sisters continue to face challenges with the influx of addicts who are homeless and gather down the block.

Nevertheless, the Horizon Community, as the Yakima Sisters are known, is a place of joy and laughter.  They live next door to La Casa Hogar and allow the Latina-focused group to use their meeting room for classes.

Like the rest of the world, the Sisters are gradually emerging from worse phases of the pandemic and exploring the new normal. 

It is none too soon for Sr. Fe Sumalde who, through her work as a chaplain at Yakima Memorial Hospital, learned in real time during the beginning of the pandemic how to help a dying patient say their final farewells to their family using an iPad.

“Emergency is the reality of my ministry,” she explained.  “Prayer, especially those of my fellow Sisters, saved me.”

Sr. Josie, Sr. Fabiola, Sr. Marisol, Sr. Fe, Sr. Roberta, Sr. Julie, Sr. Dona (seated)

Fortunately, she knew a lot of people in Yakima because of her 27 years of ministry in the valley.

Sr. Dona Tayler knows the community as well, having grown up in the farming community and attended local schools including one on the Yakima Indian Reservation.  With a career in health care administration, including a stint as the first president of Providence Health and Social Services Corporation, she “has kept in touch with many friends over the years. 

“We minister to one another and remember to reaffirm each other,” Sr. Dona says of her fellow Sisters

Retired seven years, she is happy to be back home and, according to Sr. Marisol Avila, a great support to the other members of the community.

Sr. Marisol is a large part of the reason the Latino community in the small towns surrounding Yakima is so aware of the Sisters of Providence presence. 

She presented retreats and conferences (prior to Covid) in Spanish during her four years in Yakima.  Even throughout the pandemic hiatus, she continued directing seekers in the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) via Zoom.

Her work has built on a strong presence in the city following the ministries of Sr. Roberta Rorke.  It was Sr. Roberta who moved the house from a more affluent part of town closer to the people who needed help.  She also helped establish La Casa Hogar and a Catholic student center at Yakima Valley College.

Memorial in the alley way behind the Sisters house in Yakima

Sr. Roberta was also planted a garden and invited local gang members to participate in its care. Over time, local gang members recognized the spirit of the Sisters and protected them.

It’s no surprise that the strong, vibrant Horizon Community was the logical choice to host a novice, Sr. Fabiola Reyes González.  It is also no surprise that Sr. Josie Ramac is serving as the Novice Director.  She has worked in teaching and formation and has served as novice director for Canada, the Philippines and the U.S.

Sr. Julie Macasieb, from the Burbank community, also lives in the Yakima house and is busy with a host of jobs, including the congregational Noviate program and preparation for the General Chapter coming up later this year. 

Two members live elsewhere for now: Sr. Deling Fernando in Florida and Sr. Helen Mason in Walla Walla.