Jubilee Year of Sisters of Saint Mary of Oregon
Reflection by Sister Janice Boogaard. SSMO ’56
As an alumnus of St. Mary of the Valley, I would like to reflect on our 125th Jubilee this past year. Because I am semi-retired, I was able to assist others in some of the preparations that went on in regard to our Jubilee. For over 40 years, I have worked with Liturgy within the community. This year, I volunteered to work on the Liturgies for our Jubilee. This meant that I was involved in every event that we celebrated. I was involved in the committee that planned the prayer service for our Open House on February 27, 2011. I remember Sister Charlene declaring that our Jubilee year was beginning with trumpets. Many people were fascinated as they toured our home, the Convent. I heard many comments about how small our rooms are and how much enjoyed climbing the stairs to our dome. There was much preparation for this open house, as many areas needing sprucing up.
For Memorial Day, I was instrumental in getting in touch with the members of our deceased sisters’ families and encouraged them to come to our cemetery to celebrate their sisters’ lives. This was an honor, as I personally know some of these families. A group of seventh grade students made rubbings of the tombstones of our sisters that we displayed on our bulletin board near our dining room. We continued to spend time with the Seventh grade students throughout the year. We shared many stories with them such as our vocation story, our Community, life in the 40’s and 50’s, our own school life. I told stories of my grade school, a one-room school, in which I had nine teachers in eight years.
The next big event was in August, for our Jubilee trip to Jordan (where our community began) and to St. Boniface in Sublimity. I was part of the planning committee planning the prayer services for our bus ride and site visits in Jordan and Sublimity. We visited graveyards and listened to presentations by some sisters who work in our archives. This visit was especially important to me as served at St. Boniface in Sublimity several times in my life. The last time I was there, I was Director of Religious Education for six years.
This year our community committed to have up to 25 people work at the local food pantry of the Oregon Food Bank once a month. While I was not able to go very often, it was a very worthwhile endeavor. Our Community recruited many others in this effort, as well as a number of Sisters. There were various areas to work. While some put food in smaller containers and others worked in the freezing area, I was able to help put labels on the containers that would be later given to people in need. The food boxes also included directions on cooking.
“Soup’s On” was held in October, and was a way for our community to give financial gifts to our local Oregon Food Bank. Twenty restaurants participated and served soups to oodles of people from the surrounding community who came to sample the fare. What a wonderful collection we had, and it was so successful, we decided to make it an annual event. Some of our students provided entertainment. Participants were asked their favorite soup, for which the winning restaurants received awards. The first prize to choose went to Qdoba Mexican Grill with Ernesto’s and Fresh Thyme Soup Co taking 2nd and 3rd place.
Our 125th closing Jubilee Mass was celebrated on March 25, 2012 in our Valiant’s gym. Archbishop John Vlazny was the main celebrant. Many participated in this celebration including several clergy and Mary Donovan, our campus minister, who helped to organize the logistics of the event. The liturgy group was also very involved. I was given the responsibility to contact members of our ten founding families, along with some of the archivists, who were chosen to carry lit candles in a procession representing the original members of our community. Some of our foundresses’ families are no longer in the area. However, typical of the families of the Jordan/Sublimity area, many have large families to draw from, and they were eager to carry a candle in remembrance of our foundresses. Working with them was a true pleasure, and I gained some new friends as a result. A few weeks before the ceremonies, the sisters baked cookies for the almost 800 people who came to celebrate. The beautiful reception was a fitting climax to our year.
As part of our Jubilee celebrations, twenty-seven sisters, joined by seven other people, took a bus to Sacramento to see the Women and the Spirit exhibit, which highlighted the work that religious women have done in building of our nation. Thanks to Sisters Charlene Herinckx and Rita Watkins, we enjoyed a well planned trip. We received maps of where we were staying, as well as of the museum and the cathedral. It didn’t take us much time to find other places of interest. Before we began, Sister Rita Watkins had arranged for goodie bags with all kinds of things for us to use on this trip. Not only were there snacks, sandwich makings, etc., but there were also hand cleaners and a package of Kleenex for each to take.
I was so impressed at the many ways in which religious sisters helped shape who we are in the United States. Some of the first religious worked in the Deep South, helping women and black people to become educated. Others served in the Civil War nursing soldiers from both sides. A Sister created the first incubator. Sisters started many hospitals schools, and orphanages. I was amazed at how many buildings and schools were erected by their innovation, and often, the religious were involved in the building. Sisters played key role in the women’s right to vote, abolition of slavery and Alcoholics Anonymous. After fundraising for a clinic, Mother Alfred Moses asked Dr. Mayo if he would build a place where she could serve with some of his colleagues. After her persistence and years of fundraising, the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota was built. Many states have benefited from the Sisters work. In Oregon, Providence Hospital as a result of Mother Joseph and the Providence Sisters. It is astounding to me to realize the many accomplishments during the last 300 years that are a direct result of the efforts of religious women.
We spent 25 hours total on the bus during our three-day trip. There was much sharing and frequent stops. Friday, on the way down, we stopped at “Heaven on Earth”, a place that specializes in cinnamon rolls and other delicious pastries. Our tour guide had arranged for us to stop there, and when we arrived a little early, we waited for the cinnamon rolls to come out of the oven. They were quickly frosted and we were treated to the best. Some of the pastries were given as door prizes. They even baked cinnamon rolls as large as cakes. I was lucky and won a crispy dessert.
Saturday evening we attended Mass at the Sacramento Cathedral. It is indeed beautiful and had recently been remodeled by a relative of our acquaintances. They had a guest choir, made up of young people, from St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. The Mass was so wonderful and the celebrant even mentioned our community and the fact that is was “Vocation Sunday”.
This was my way to tell you of what I do now as an alumna. This year was special because of our 125th Jubilee, but each year brings opportunities to be involved in many aspects of community life. In addition to what I have mentioned, I volunteer as a Eucharistic Minister at St. Vincent’s hospital and am privileged to give out Communion to patients who wish it. For many years, I was coordinator of our 3rd floor sisters, who have medical and mobility issues, and I continue to visit with them frequently, as they are such an inspiration to me. On some Mondays, I present a reflection on the Sunday scripture for our Maryville residents. I also do things around the house, such as opening the switchboard in the morning and clearing the unit, as well as many other little things that help make life better for others.