From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

New convent garden is dedicated as Holy Names Sisters’ Washington Province celebrates 40 years

Story and photo by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Oct. 3, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

This statue of Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names, is one of the features of the new garden recently dedicated at the Convent of the Holy Names in Spokane. The garden is dedicated in her honor. The statue is the work of Holy Names Sister Paula Turnbull. (IR photo)

The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary have had a presence in the Pacific Northwest for more than 100 years.

Their Washington province is just 40 years old, however. In 1962 Washington split off from the Oregon Province, in order to facilitate administration of the Sisters’ work.

To mark the anniversary occasion, the Sisters constructed what they call a “healing garden” in the quadrangle of their facility on Fort Wright Drive in Spokane.

The garden is called the Blessed Marie Rose Garden of Life, a Spiritual Wellspring, in honor of the order’s foundress, Blessed Marie Rose Durocher of Canada.

The garden was blessed at a special ceremony Sept. 21. Several Holy Names Sisters from Oregon were invited to attend the event, to honor the shared history of the two provinces.

A waterfall near the intersection of two sidewalks greets visitors who come to the Sisters’ new beautiful brick area. The boulders placed at the waterfall and in the garden itself came from the Sisters’ property.

On the north wall of the building is a huge metal “tree of life,” crafted by Holy Names Sister Paula Mary Turnbull, a noted sculptor. Her studio is just located on the grounds, north of the convent.

Visitors enter the garden through a worked copper gate and arch made by Sister Paula Mary. She created the copper bridge that goes over the little stream, and the statue of Blessed Marie Rose in the center of the garden.

Near the statue are two chairs and a table, also made of worked copper from the hands of Sister Paula Mary. The spot invites visitors to sit, rest, unwind. Six benches are also located in the garden.

Copper memorial plaques with appropriate Scripture verses, prayer requests and donors’ names are placed near the garden’s key elements. For example, the plaque by the bridge reads: “Beside restful waters You lead me.”

The Sisters see the garden as an extension of their ministry, not only to the residents of their care center but to anyone who visits. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the chapel and elsewhere in the building along the quadrangle make the garden visible from the inside. Residents who like to garden can work in the raised flower beds if they wish.

“It’s a place where we can nourish ourselves,” said Sister Celine Steinberger. “It’s a place where we can be grateful and pray for others.”

There are 170 vowed Sisters in the Washington Province and 86 associates, both female and male.

Historically, the Sisters’ work focused primarily on education, but today they can be found doing many other kinds of ministry. They teach in Jonestown, Miss., one of the poorest areas in the United States, and have a facility called Marie Rose House in Wapato, Wash., to minister to women in the Wapato Valley.

Another program, called Wisdom-Works, offers spirituality through retreats, workshops and seminars. The Holy Names community supports other ministries such as the Women’s Drop-in Center, the Transitional Living Center, and Miryam’s House of Transition.

The Sisters still operate Holy Names Music Center at Mukogawa Institute, formerly the site of their Fort George Wright College. The Sisters maintain a good relationship with the Institute, and the young Japanese women who come there to study English visit the Sisters on a regular basis. Some of the Sisters become their mentors for English language instruction.

The blessing of the garden not only gave the Sisters an occasion to reflect on the past 40 years, it also provided an opportunity for them to ponder the next 40 years.

Sister Ann Pizelo, Director of the Washington Province, said the mission of their foundress is the “full development of the person.” While the Sisters’ role has evolved in the century they’ve been in the Pacific Northwest, their focus will remain “how we bring that spirit to what we do.”

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