Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


Compiled by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the October 16, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

From the Inland Register – Volume LIII – No.18
Fifty Years Ago: August 30, 1964

Bishop Topel to Dedicate New Holy Family Hospital Saturday

Government and religious leaders will participate in the public dedication ceremonies of Spokane’s new, northside Holy Family Hospital planned for tomorrow (Saturday) at 1 p.m.

Bishop Bernard J. Topel will officially dedicate the new $5 million hospital in ceremonies which will hear the invocation by the Most Rev. Raymond Hunthausen, bishop of the Diocese of Helena, Mont.; addresses by Governor Albert D. Rosellini, Mayor Neal R. Fosseen; and greetings from Dr. Jerome L. Sweeney, chairman of the medical staff, and John Bigelow, executive director of the Washington State Hospital Association. The ceremonies will start at 1 p.m. when the Veterans of Foreign Wars present the flag to the hospital authorities. The flag, which formerly flew over the Capitol in Washington, D.C., will be raised by a color guard from the United States Marine Corps Reserve. A solo, “Bless This House” by William Steckel and the Assumption school choir under the direction of Sister Miryam, will also participate in the public dedication ceremonies, Mrs. Joseph Sweeny, chairman of the dedication planning committee, said.

The dedication ceremony will also open a four-day “Open House” at the hospital, the first in Spokane in 65 years. The public is invited to tour the facilities of the new hospital tomorrow, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. A schedule of the tour hours is printed in the special section of today’s Inland Catholic Register devoted to the dedication of the hospital.

Members of the hospital staff, the hospital ladies auxiliary and the Candystripers, along with civic and business leaders, will participate in the four days of activities. Assisting at the tea table during the “open house” period will be wives of staff doctors, wives of Lions, Rotary and Elks clubs and Junior Chamber of Commerce members, the Junior League, and Welcome Wagon. The auxiliary will also be aided by the Hospital Auxiliaries, American Legion, Red Cross, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Coudiettes of the VFM in providing escort services during tours of the hospital.

Guests Welcomed

Guests will be welcomed at the hospital by Sister Mary Agnes, administrator, and one of six chairmen named by the auxiliary. Sharing duties as welcoming chairman are Mrs. Horace R. Williams, Mrs. Francis Flower, Mrs. Francis J. Conlon, Mrs. Gerald D. Robinson, Mrs. Robert McAlister and Mrs. Michael P. Manion.

The hospital, which will be open for service Sept. 8, is the culmination of more than three decades of planning by the Dominican Sisters. Land for the new unit was first purchased on north Lidgerwood between east Central and east Rowan streets in 1944. In planning for the hospital, first consideration was given to patient care and this led to the emphasis on progressive patient care at the new hospital. Progressive patient care is the most outstanding modern development in hospital service incorporated in the building, Sister Mary Agnes said.

In the era of modern medicine, progressive patient care is an effective system, the hospital administrator added. Sister Mary Agnes stressed the benefit in cost to the patient under the systems where charges are made only for those services required. Rates are reduced as the patient becomes progressively able to undertake more of his own services, she added.

Added Feature

An added feature in the modern hospital unit is the availability of all “activity” areas to the emergency section. This, Sister Mary Agnes believes, is of prime importance in providing immediate x-ray, laboratory and surgical services for emergency patients. The emergency section will be completely staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and all facilities of this hospital will be available on the same basis, Sister Mary Agnes said.

Providing 137 patient beds and 24 nursery bassinets, the new Holy Family Hospital is built to serve the Inland Empire on a general basis and is open to all patients of accredited staff doctors. It continues a tradition of service to the area by the Dominican sisters dating back to 1929 when the sisters arrived to staff St. Joseph’s Hospital, Chewelah. Many Inland Empire schools and hospitals are staffed by the sisters today and many of the members of the Order are natives of the area, Sister Mary Agnes said.

Dominican Nuns in Major Roles at New Hospital

Ceremonies marking the opening of Holy Family Hospital this weekend will draw particular interest from two members of the Dominican Sisters who have played major roles in the development of the program.

Mother M. Alberta OP, now provincial of the Order based at Kettle Falls, is a former superior of Holy Family Home and was active in that office when the projected hospital was still on the planning board. Named provincial of the Order in 1962, she now directs operations of the sisters in schools and hospitals throughout the area.

Born in Berhausen, Germany, Mother M. Alberta came to the United States in 1937 and made her first profession of vows in 1939. She graduated from Sacred Heart School of Nursing in 1943 and later completed studies as a medical technologist.

Prior to becoming provincial, Mother M. Alberta was stationed at St. Martin Hospital, Tonasket, and St. Mary Hospital, Conrad, Mont. She was superior of St. Joseph Hospital, Chewelah, from 1955 to 1960, and then was named superior at Holy Family in 1960.

Shares Role

Sharing a leading role along with Mother M. Alberta in the planning of the new hospital, the present superior, Sister Mary Agnes, O.P., has been at Holy Family since 1960. She was named assistant administrator in 1960 and became superior and administrator two years later.

Sister Mary Agnes, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Koenig, Conrad, Mont., pronounced her first vows at the Dominican Motherhouse, Kettle Falls, in 1948. She graduated from Sacred Heart School of Nursing in 1951 and continued graduate studies at Carroll College, Helena, Mont. She received her degree in nursing education in 1953.

The Holy Family administrator was stationed at St. Joseph Hospital, Chewelah, from 1953 to 1957. In 1957, Sister Mary Agnes began two years of study in hospital administration. She served an internship at Holy Cross Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah prior to receiving her master’s degree in hospital administration in 1959.


From the Inland Register – Volume 47, No. 4
Twenty-five Years Ago: October 5, 1989

Special Section: Vocations 1989 - “The question of love is still my motivating force”

by Sister Laura Michels SNJM

If I were “Called by Name” using the one printed on my Cook County birth certificate, I would be known today as Sister Baby Girl Michels. The nurses, perhaps eager to complete their paperwork before going off shift, were too impatient to wait for my parents’ final decision.

Birth certificates, too, are significant in reflecting upon my call to be a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. I have experienced the birth process again and again as I continue living out this call.

I believe that it is not so much what has brought me to Religious life that is significant, but what it is that keeps me here. In many ways, I have been born anew – and each time I realize what a profound gift my Religious vocation is.

Once, as a new teacher of grade six, my principal helped me bring to birth a belief in my ability to teach. At a vulnerable time in my life, this Holy Names Sister exemplified the qualities that I wanted to have. What she did for me, I wanted to do for others: to help people recognize their gifts and to believe in their ability to make a difference. Experiences such as this formed an important part of my call to live Religious life.

A new birth which affected the whole Church – and me – was the Second Vatican Council.

Religious life began a process of renewal. It was a time of challenges and choices. Many Sisters who entered with me chose to leave Religious life.

Through it all, I realized that, amid the turmoil of change, the basic values of Religious life remained constant. As I asked myself the question, “How can I love most effectively?” the answer was apparent: In the deepest part of me, I knew that this way of life was right for me. This vocation was the place where my ability to love could best be actualized.

The question of love is still my motivating force as I work today with Gonzaga University students in campus ministry. I love these women and men, for they teach me so much about goodness, life, creativity and holiness.

What is being born now in my life is an inner sense of joy and gratitude for the people and experiences that continue to shape my life. Through it all, God remains my stronghold; and my daily prayer is one borrowed from St. Paul: May love be the root and foundation of my life.

(Father Caswell is archivist for the Inland Register, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)


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