Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
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Sister Kathryn Rutan to serve as Providence Sisters’ General Superior
by the Inland Register
(From the Aug. 1, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)
Providence Sister Kathryn Rutan of Spokane has been elected to a five-year term as General Superior of the Sisters of Providence. She takes up her new position in October. (IR photo from the Sisters of Providence)
Sister Kathryn Rutan, a Sister of Providence from the Pacific Northwest, has been chosen to serve a five-year term as General Superior of the Sisters of Providence International Community. She is the 17th General Superior of the congregation and the first U.S. citizen to serve in the position.
The delegates called Sister Kathryn to the post through a process of discernment July 20 at the Religious community’s General Chapter in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She will assume her new post in mid-October at the Motherhouse in Montreal, Quebec, where the order was founded in 1843 by Mother Emilie Gamelin.
Sister Kathryn succeeds Providence Sister Gloria Keylor of Holy Angels Province in Edmonton. Sister Gloria has been General Superior since 1992.
Today, the community of Sisters of Providence numbers 1,089 and serves thoughout the world, including in the United States, Canada, Chile, Egypt, El Salvador, Cameroon, Argentina, Haiti and the Philippines. As General Superior, Sister Kathryn will lead the international community’s six provinces and two sectors.
“I am honored to be selected by the sisters at this time in the life of our community,” Sister Kathryn said. “I know I will have their support in the days to come as we move into the future.”
Sister Kathryn is a member of Mother Joseph Province, which maintains headquarters in Spokane and Seattle, and currently serves as a member of the provincial council. The province’s sponsored ministries include Providence Health System, serving western Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska, and Providence Services, in Eastern Washington and Montana.
“There were both cheers and tears from the delegates from our province at her selection,” said Providence Sister Barbara Schamber, the province’s Provincial/Team Leader. “We are delighted that she has been called to serve the international community, but we also are saddened to lose her from our provincial leadership team.”
Affectionately known as “Kitsy,” Sister Kathryn was born in a family of six children in Great Falls, Mont., where she attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools. She entered the Sisters of Providence as a postulant in 1954 in Seattle and professed first vows in 1956 at Mount St. Vincent. She professed final vows at Mount St. Joseph in Spokane in 1961.
She received a bachelor’s degree in education from the College of Great Falls in 1961 and a master’s degree in comparative government from Georgetown University in 1968. “All of my life I have been, one way or another, a teacher,” she said.
Her ministries have included 15 years teaching at the elementary, secondary and college levels, 13 years in provincial administration and leadership, and four years as superior at Mount St. Joseph in Spokane. She also did community organizing from 1969-71 as part of the Montana Encampment for Citizenship, and served as interim administrator at Providence Centre in Edmonton for six months in 1993.
Sister Kathryn also spent three-and-a-half years working with the campesino families in the Providence Mission at La Papalota, El Salvador, and volunteered to be an international observer with Pax Christi to deter violence and terrorism when ousted president Bertrand Aristede returned to Haiti in 1993.
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