Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



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


Sisters of Providence mark jubilees of Religious life

the Inland Register

(From the July 21, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)

Sisters of Providence with ties to the Spokane Diocese will celebrate jubilees of Religious life at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, 7000 35th Ave. SW, Seattle. Father Stan Malnar will preside at the liturgy, which will be followed by a reception in Guadalupe Hall.

75 years

Sister Dorothy Zimny (Sister Margaret Yvonne) was born in Wells, Minn., in 1917. The family moved to Spokane when she was a year old and she attended public schools before becoming a boarder at St. Joseph Academy in Sprague, Wash. She entered the novitiate at Mount St. Vincent in Seattle in 1935 and pronounced first vows in 1937. Her first ministry was teaching fifth and sixth grades at St. Thomas Home in Great Falls, Mont. Her 17-year teaching career also took her to Missoula, Mont., Sprague and Colfax, Wash., and Wallace, Idaho. Other ministries included bookkeeping, hospital patient accounts, secretarial duties and medical records administration.

70 years

Sister Maryann Benoit (Sister Valerie) was born in Yakima, Wash., and graduated from St. Joseph Academy, as did her mother. Both were taught history by Sister Edward John. Inspired by the Providence sisters who taught her, Sister Maryann entered the novitiate in Seattle. Her first ministry was teaching third graders in Tacoma, Wash., followed by decades of teaching on the elementary and secondary levels in Walla Walla, Seattle, Vancouver, Olympia and Yakima, Wash., Burbank, Calif., and Missoula and Great Falls, Mont. She later served as an English professor on the faculty of the College of Great Falls (MT). Invited to teach English twice in Japan, she subsequently was an advisor to numerous Japanese students at the college. In Great Falls she also formerly provided assistance with writing and editing for people who needed but could not afford language help services.

Sister Cecilia Paganessi (Sister Beatrice of Jesus) was born in Centerville, Mont., and moved to St. Thomas Home in Great Falls at the age of 7 with her four sisters after their mother’s death. Educated by the Sisters of Providence, after high school she attended the College of Great Falls for a year and then entered the novitiate of the religious community at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle. She made first profession in 1943 and began a 31-year teaching career that took her to parochial grade schools in Missoula, Glasgow and Great Falls, Mont., Kellogg and Wallace, Idaho, and Colfax and Walla Walla, Wash. After studying accounting at Kinman Business College she was an accounts receivable clerk in the business office at the College of Great Falls for eight years and later worked in the treasurer’s office in the provincialate in Spokane. She spent several years in community service in Spokane before returning to Walla Walla as a church and parish volunteer working on projects for the poor and visiting and assisting neighbors.

60 years

Sister Mary K. Cummings (Sister Katrina) lives just a short stroll from her birthplace at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. Her family moved to Spokane from Northport, Wash., near the Canadian border, when she was 10. She graduated from Marycliff High School and discovered that she had a vocation while attending Holy Names College. She taught fifth through eighth grades for eight years, in Missoula, Mont., Wallace and DeSmet, Idaho, and Great Falls, Mont., and later taught high school. Other ministries have been in finance at the College of Great Falls, as treasurer of the former St. Ignatius Province, in parish ministry in Hayward, Calif., and nine years as director of pastoral care and of volunteers at a small rural hospital in Polson, Mont., while also serving as a part-time provincial council member. After retiring 10 years ago in Spokane, she assisted the elderly at Mount St. Joseph and Emilie Court. Today she is a part-time volunteer in the religious community’s library in Spokane.

Sister Anna Marie Koval (Sister Mary Ursula) is a native of Staples, Minn. She and her family moved to Missoula, Mont., where she was taught by Sisters of Providence at St. Francis Xavier, Sacred Heart Academy, St. Patrick School of Nursing and also at the College of Great Falls (MT). She entered the novitiate in 1950 and served as a nurse in hospitals in Idaho, Montana and Washington, including twenty years as a nurse and in pastoral care at St. Patrick Hospital, Missoula. After a renewal program for religious sisters in 1984, she enrolled in training for pastoral education and was certified as a chaplain. She currently works part time as chaplain at St. Joseph Care Center, Spokane.

Sister Scholastica Lee (Sister Scholastica Mary) was born in Eden, County Roscommon, Ireland, in 1921 and came to the United States with her brother in the early 1940s in search of work. Her first job was as assistant to Sister Tekawitha in the pharmacy at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. She entered the religious community at the age of 29. Her first ministry was teaching third grade at St. Patrick School in Walla Walla, Wash. She also taught at Providence Academy and at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Vancouver, Wash.; St. Catherine School, Seattle; Holy Rosary School, Moxee, Wash.; St. Joseph grade school, Yakima, Wash.; and Immaculate Conception School, Fairbanks, Alaska. In 1972 she switched to parish work, serving at St. Monica Parish Center in Coos Bay, Ore., Holy Names Parish in Coquille, Ore., and St. Michael Parish in Snohomish, Wash. Later she returned to St. Joseph Grade School in Yakima to coordinate religious education and teach. One of her favorite ministries was her 17 years as hospital chaplain at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Ore. She retired to St. Joseph Residence, Seattle, in 2000.

50 years

Sister Lynn Chappell (Sister Inez Elizabeth) was born in White Center, Wash., and met the Sisters of Providence at Holy Family School. She entered the religious community as a postulant at Mount St. Vincent in Seattle and attended classes at Providence Heights in Issaquah, Wash. After graduation from Seattle University in 1965, she taught fifth grade at Sacred Heart School in Tacoma, Wash. Other teaching assignments were at Holy Family School in White Center, St. Joseph School in Yakima, Wash., and Villa Academy and Assumption Schools in Seattle. She was local coordinator/administrator at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle, and took studies to become licensed as a nursing home administrator in Washington State. Next she served as provincial secretary for the former Sacred Heart Province, and then as part of the administrative team at Mount St. Vincent. In 1995 she was called to serve as a provincial councilor for Sacred Heart Province’s last leadership team and in the fall of 1999 she was appointed provincial councilor/treasurer for the first leadership team of Mother Joseph Province. She has served on the boards of Providence Health System and of Providence Senior and Community Services, and as chair of three Department of Housing and Urban Development boards. She also was the first records manager for Mount St. Vincent. She currently is secretary to the superior of St. Joseph Residence and manager of Caritas Court in West Seattle.

Sister Maria Lourdes Cleto (Given name: Soledad) was born in Manila, Philippines, She entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Providence in 1960 in Seattle and made first profession in 1963. A graduate of the College of Great Falls (MT), she spent 15 years as a parochial school teacher in DeSmet, Idaho, Great Falls and Missoula, Mont., and Spokane and Walla Walla, Wash. She has worked with adults on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, with black residents of Chicago and with Mexican migrant children in Walla Walla. After completing the chaplaincy program at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, she was a pastoral assistant at St. Edward Parish in Seattle for a total of 24 years, including work with the parish’s Filipino community. Next she worked with the Seattle Diaconate Formation Program for three years before moving into her current role as a member of the Vocation Team for the Sisters of Providence.

Sister Myrta Iturriaga (Sister Juana Rosa de Jesus) was born in Temuco, Chile. She was taught by Sisters of Providence at Sacred Heart School and entered the religious community in 1961, a year after graduation. She taught math, arts and religion in elementary school and high school in Chile, and was principal of the Professional School in Ovalle, where she helped with the Christian formation of the students’ families. She came to the former St. Ignatius Province, headquartered in Spokane, Wash., in August 1988, when she was called to be a missionary to the Hispanic community in Connell, Wash. Her transfer to the province was formally approved in 1992. She became a U.S. citizen in 2002 in Spokane. For more than 20 years, Sister Myrta worked for the Diocese of Spokane, as director of Hispanic ministry, as a translator, and also in prison and detention ministry. This year, when she ended her ministry with the diocese, she received the Volunteer of the Year award from the Airway Heights Correctional Center.

Sister Maria Teresa Lopez (Sister Maria Teresa of Jesus) was born in San Miguel, Manila. She completed high school in 1940, and then studied secretarial work at the University of Santo Tomas. During the Japanese occupation she worked at the Welfareville Institute for delinquent boys and girls, as well as at the Home for the Aged and the Infirm and the orphanage there. Next, she worked for nine years as secretary to the director of the Military Welfare Service Department of the Philippine National Red Cross while taking graduate studies in social service work at the Centro Escolar University and doing field work at the Settlement House, an institution for abandoned children. Later, she was secretary to the general manager of Warner-Chilcott Laboratories Inc. in Manila. She made and paid for her own arrangements to come to the United States to enter the novitiate of the Sisters of Providence in 1960, making first vows in 1963. She was assigned to Columbus Hospital in Great Falls, Mont., as a medical social worker and volunteered at Opportunities Inc., and with Women in Community Service. For six years she was director of the Social Services Department at Columbus Hospital, helping to launch its Medical Social Service Program. She did post graduate work in psychotherapy at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash., and was director of social services at St. John Hospital, Longview, Wash. She returned to the Philippines in 1979 to work with Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Manila, and then went to work in the East Coast Migrant Head Start Program in Florida and South Carolina. She studied clinical pastoral education at Deaconess Hospital, Spokane, volunteered with refugee resettlement efforts, spent time in the Sisters of Providence Philippine sector (now a vice province) and returned to Mount St. Joseph, Spokane, when she retired in 2003.


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