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


Ten Sisters of Providence mark 50, 60 and 70 years of Religious life

the Inland Register

(From the June 18, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

Ten Sisters of Providence will celebrate 50, 60 and 70 years of Religious life at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, 7000 35th Avenue SW, Seattle. Seattle’s Archbishop J. Peter Sartain will be the celebrant. Father John R. Walmesley, pastor at Guadalupe, will be the principal concelebrant for the liturgy, which will be followed by a reception in Guadalupe Hall.

70 years

Sister Georgette (Mary Joan) Bayless

Born in San Jose, Calif., Sister Georgette Bayless trained as a nurse before entering the Religious community in 1944 as a 21-year-old. Her first ministry was as a nursing supervisor at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Yakima, Wash., followed by service in Providence hospitals in Washington, Alaska and Oregon, in nursing, pastoral care, outreach, hospice, mission effectiveness and other capacities. This 93-year-old has organized people to start new programs, raise money for community needs and expand outreach to the forgotten. Her legacy includes a sexual assault center in Everett, Wash., and Hospice of Snohomish County. Sister Georgette’s determination, passion and commitment led to her being named as one of six Washington recipients of the Jefferson Awards for community service in 1980. She lives in Seattle.

60 years

Sister Anita (Francesca) Butler

For the past five years Sister Anita Butler has been a sponsor of Providence Ministries, entrusted with ensuring that the ministries of Providence Health & Services (PH&S) remain Catholic and true to the sisters’ mission. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Burbank, Calif., she entered the Sisters of Providence in Seattle in 1954. She served in teaching and administration for 23 years in grade schools and high schools in Vancouver, Tacoma, Moxee City and Seattle, Wash., and in Burbank. She served as provincial treasurer in the former Sacred Heart Province, taking responsibility for oversight of construction and development of its first low-income housing projects. She also was treasurer of Mother Joseph Province. In addition, she ministered in long-term care in the Oregon region of PH&S, was superior/administrator of St. Joseph Residence in Seattle, and has chaired and been a trustee of retirement committees for the Religious community and for PH&S employees for 35 years. She lives in Seattle.

Sister Lenora (Stephen) Donovan

Sister Lenora Donovan moved with her family from Nebraska to Yakima, Wash., in 1941 when she was 9 years old. She graduated from St. Joseph Academy in Yakima in 1952, moved with her family to Portland, Ore., and went to school to become an LPN at Multnomah County Hospital. She entered the Sisters of Providence in Seattle and made first profession in 1956. Assigned to Mount St. Vincent Home for the Aged for several years, she eventually became a registered nurse, serving in Port Townsend and Portland. Certified as a chaplain, she served at the parish in Medford, Ore., and then was assigned to Providence ElderPlace in Portland, assisting the elderly to stay in their own homes by regularly assessing their ongoing health needs. In 2011, she and Sister Rita Ferschweiler were the last Sisters to move out of the convent at Providence Hall in Portland. Sister Lenora was a longtime volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul Society in Portland and continues that role today in Seattle.

Sister Mary Catherine (Mary Margaret) McGuire

Fresh out of the novitiate, Sister Mary Catherine McGuire was assigned to teach a class of rambunctious second graders at St. Joseph Grade School in Yakima, Wash. Over the next 15 years she taught six different grades in nine different places, including in Yakima’s consolidation of three Catholic schools: St. Joseph, Carroll High School and Marquette. Born in Providence Hospital in Everett, she grew up on a dairy farm in rural Snohomish. She entered the novitiate after a postulancy at Mount St. Vincent, Seattle, and professed first vows in 1956. She taught in Yakima, Seattle, Vancouver and Olympia, Wash.; Anchorage, Alaska; Burbank, Calif.; and Portland, Ore. Other ministries included parish work and as a receptionist at St. Peter’s Hospital in Olympia and in the Providence corporate offices. For 20 years she ministered in pastoral services. She also volunteered with community college English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, assisted in the Sisters of Providence library, and was part-time chaplain at Providence ElderPlace in Seattle. She continues a volunteer music ministry at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle.

Sister Kathryn (Jean Patrice) Rutan

Montana native Sister Kathryn Rutan has led the Religious community’s international congregation from its headquarters in Montreal as the first non-French-speaking general superior. Today, she has returned to El Salvador, where she and four other Sisters of Providence first arrived in 1995 to establish a mission in the civil war-ravaged Central American country. Known as “Kitsy,” she and other Sisters in El Salvador are helping to reinvigorate a ministry to provide scholarships and life skills to young people from campesino families in the region of Jiquilisco, which is made up of many small communities including La Papalota and Angela Montano.

Born in Great Falls, Mont., Sister Kathryn joined the Sisters of Providence as a postulant after graduation in 1954. She professed first vows in 1956 at Mount St. Vincent in Seattle. Her zeal for living and working with the poor and disadvantaged has been at the heart of every ministry, including 15 years of 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 has worked with low-income Montana residents, served as an international observer of the return to democracy in Haiti, helped install stoves in homes in Guatemala with Providence Health International, and served as interim superior of the local Providence community in Winooski, Vt.

50 years

Sister Marilyn Charette

Sister Marilyn Charette was born in Schenectady, N.Y., and moved with her family to a small house on the Columbia River in Richland, Wash., at the age of 6. She went to Holy Names College in Spokane, Wash., and studied biology and chemistry to become a medical technologist. After graduation, she worked in a hospital laboratory in Richland and then moved to the lab at St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank, Calif. A Jesuit priest at St. Finbar Parish helped her to discover her call to religious life and she entered the Sisters of Providence, working in her postulant year in the laboratory at Providence Hospital, Seattle. Her ministry for many years was in hospitals as a medical technologist, in the admissions office, patient transport, and finally as a chaplain. She served in Yakima, Everett and Portland. She also was a team member at Mount St. Joseph, a novitiate team member and novitiate director.

Sister Marilyn was one of the five Sisters who established the mission to El Salvador in 1995, remaining there for five years. She returned to El Salvador in 2012. The mission has refocused on the scholarship program and the Sisters there relocated to their original house in La Papalota.

Sister Jacqueline Fernandes

Sister Jacqueline Fernandes was born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, to a Portuguese father and a Chinese mother. The dangerous war years kept the family on the move, and they survived a ship bombing by the Germans enroute to India and imprisonment in a Japanese concentration camp in Fukushima for three years. After their release they eventually returned to Hong Kong. Sister Jacqueline came to the United States at the invitation of the family of Dr. Ralph O’Brien, a professor at Seattle University, where her older sister Valerie was a student. Sister Jacqueline finished high school and studied business while living with the O’Briens and caring for their three children. She also explored the call to Religious life and was drawn to the Sisters of Providence by the variety of ministries available and by meeting Filipino Sisters in the Religious community and Sisters from Daughters of Mary in Uganda who lived with the Providence Sisters. She entered the Religious community in 1964.

Sister Jacqueline was assigned to community services in the early years, and then joined the treasurer’s office, handling Sisters’ moves, furniture, storage and cars for nine years. For 16 years she was registrar and office manager at Providence High School in Burbank, Calif. In 1996 she began the first of two terms on the Provincial Council as the religious community formed the new Mother Joseph Province. For the past nine years she has been administrator/superior in charge of St. Joseph Residence, the Seattle home for retired Sisters of Providence and Sisters from other Religious communities.

Sister Helen Mason

Sister Helen Mason lives in Walla Walla, Wash., where she was born in 1945 at St. Mary Medical Center and baptized at St. Patrick’s parish church. It was there that she received all of her sacraments, professed final vows in 1973, and celebrated 25 years of Religious life in 1990. She knew Sisters of Providence as her teachers for 12 years and as visitors to the family farm. She entered the Religious community in 1964 at Providence Heights in Issaquah, Wash. She taught for two years in Missoula, Mont., and then volunteered to take on a new ministry as religious education coordinator for hundreds of families in 12 geographically vast parishes in north Idaho’s 120-mile panhandle, serving from 1971 to 1980. Other ministries included serving as a member of the Sisters’ Senate in Idaho and Spokane and being president of both; being one of two vicars for religious in Idaho; coordinating the Neighborhood Parish Program for 49 small groups in St. Mary’s Parish in the Spokane Valley, and coordinating the RCIA program and visiting the homes of 1,440 families.

Sister Helen also served as provincial secretary for the former St. Ignatius Province for 12 years and has served on the boards of four Providence hospitals. Since 2000 she has been on the family farm in Walla Walla, caring for her mother Agnes Mason, who died last March. Sister Helen also has been doing home visiting for Assumption Parish and writing the chronicles for 15 facilities in Eastern Washington and Montana that are part of Providence Services (now Providence Health Care).

Sister Maureen Newman

Sister Maureen Newman was born at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane in 1945 and grew up in Washington in Sprague and Grandview in the lower Yakima Valley. She is part of a large pioneer family in Walla Walla, Wash. When Sister Maureen began to explore a call to Religious life she was a boarder taught by Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary at Holy Names Academy in Seattle. She chose life as a Sister of Providence, in part because they were apostolic, engaged in communities and in ministries other than teaching, and focused on service and committed to works of mercy. She wanted to teach but also to act to make the world better.

She entered in 1964 at Providence Heights in Issaquah, Wash., and joined the College of Sister Formation with sisters from other Religious communities. She began her education ministry at St. Michael School in Olympia, Wash. She taught for 35 years, including at St. Joseph School in Vancouver, Wash., and at St. Therese School in Seattle, where she also was assistant principal. She also spent summers working at a day care for migrant workers, tutoring Hmong tribespeople, and volunteering in Central America with Going Home and Witness for Peace.

In November 2002, she was arrested for trespassing at the annual demonstration at the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) at Fort Benning, Ga. She was jailed, released and then ordered to return for trial, where she was convicted and ordered to serve three months in the federal prison in Dublin, Calif. Since then Sister Maureen has had the opportunity to work on committees for the Religious community’s 150th anniversary and for the 150th celebration of Catholic schools in the Seattle Archdiocese, and to serve as staff and interim administrator at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle. At the end of 2014 she completed a five-year term as a provincial councilor for Mother Joseph Province. She lives in Seattle.

Sister Frances Stacey

Sister Frances “Fran” Stacey was born in Los Angeles to Episcopalian parents and attended an Episcopalian school in North Hollywood before enrolling at Providence High School in Burbank. She was a junior when she converted to Catholicism. After graduation she attended the University of Portland and in 1964 she entered the Religious community. She professed final vows in 1972. For 18 years she was a member of the former Sacred Heart Province and then transferred to the former St. Ignatius Province. Her varied ministries included teaching at Providence High School and being a consultant for adult education for the Diocese of Spokane. In Montana, she was a parish services consultant for the Diocese of Great Falls and the director of campus ministry at the College (now University) of Great Falls. She was formation advisor for Bishop White Seminary in Spokane and became a provincial councilor in 1989.

Sister Fran studied Spanish, not to just learn the language but to live it. While in Chile to strengthen her language skills she accompanied families as a listener. Her knowledge of Spanish was a blessing when she volunteered as a Witness for Peace in Nicaragua for two weeks in 1989, and again when she accepted the call to become one of five Sisters to pioneer a mission in El Salvador in 1995. Sister Fran helped the people reeling from the civil war in any way that she could: taking them to the doctor, getting medical supplies from the United States, home visiting, interceding for the people in official situations, starting a fund for the education of young people, and working with liturgies for the parish priest. She returned to Seattle from El Salvador in 2011.

(IR photos courtesy of the Sisters of Providence)


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