SSMO jubilee stories show faithfulness, perseverance, love of God
Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon photo Front row: Sr. M. Grace Schonlau (left) and Sr. Janet Slingerland. Back row (left to right): Sr. M. Juliana Monti, Sr. Anne Vandecoevering, Sr. Barbara Rose Sohler, Sr. Angeline Sohler, Sr. Rita Rose Stohosky, Sr. Agnes Marie Vandecoevering and Sr. M. Juanita Villarreal.
BEAVERTON — One grew up in a migrant family. Two are sisters – by birth and by faith. They all share a love of education in subjects as diverse as music and mathematics.
They are the 2013 Jubilarians of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon: Sister Angeline Sohler (70 years); Sisters M. Grace Schonlau, Janet Slingerland, Rita Rose Stohosky, Agnes Marie Vandecoevering and Anne Vandecoevering (60 years); and Sisters M. Juliana Monti, Barbara Rose Sohler and M. Juanita Villarreal (50 years).
They will be honored during a Mass Sunday, July 28, at 1:30 p.m. in the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel of the Sisters' motherhouse at 4440 SW 148th Ave., Beaverton.
As Sisters, they have dedicated their lives to God and given more than 500 years of ministry and service, touching tens of thousands of lives.
“Our Jubilee celebration allows us to focus our attention and appreciation on those celebrating a milestone in their commitment this year," says Sister Charlene Herinckx, superior general. "We celebrate what God has been able to do in this world because of their prayer and service and for what they have given to us in community because of their faithfulness and perseverance. It is truly a joyful event in one’s life and in the community.”
• Sister Angeline Sohler was born to Henry and Dora Sohler in North Plains. She has six siblings, including Sr. Elizabeth Sohler, also a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon.
Sister Angeline attended Columbia Academy, St. Mary of the Valley Academy, Marylhurst Teachers College, Portland State University and the Pacific Northwest College of Art, receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.
She taught in parish schools in Oregon and Washington for more than 40 years. During summers – including 10 summers in Alaska – she taught religious vacation school at numerous parishes. On the SSMO campus, she served as Valley Catholic High School librarian and later worked in the SSMO Foundation office. Since her retirement, Sister Angeline has worked in the SSMO archives and tutored non-English speaking adults. Respected for her photography and artwork, she also enjoys gardening and was an avid cross-country skier and hiker.
• Sister M. Grace Schonlau spent her childhood in Illinois and Oregon. During her sophomore year, she transferred to St. Mary of the Valley High School in Beaverton, graduating in 1954.
Sister M. Grace earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Marylhurst College in 1958. She taught at St. Cecilia in Beaverton; Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Andrew and St. Pius X in Portland; and Sacred Heart in Tillamook. After studying mathematics at Gonzaga University, she taught high school math, accounting and religion at Regis High in Stayton, Tillamook Catholic, and LaSalle in Milwaukie. She spent five years as director of religious education at Our Lady of the Mountain Parish in Ashland and 10 years at St. Henry Church in Gresham.
Sister M. Grace served as a consultant for the Silver Burdett Ginn Publishing Company in the Archdiocese of Portland. She also served the archdiocese as an archdiocesan director for the Retirement Fund for Religious. • Sister Janet Slingerland (Sister Stephen) was born and raised in Portland. The oldest of three children, she entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon in 1953.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Marylhurst College and a master’s degree in theology from Mount Angel Seminary. As an elementary school teacher in Oregon and Washington for 30 years, Sister Janet also served as a vice principal and principal. She was also Dean of the resident school at St. Mary of the Valley School (now Valley Catholic).
Her professional education continued at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Springs, Md. and Washington Theological Union in the District of Columbia. She was certified by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains and received chaplain advanced status from the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, specializing in bereavement. She served at Portland’s Providence Medical Center and Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center before retiring in 2006.
• A teacher for 48 years, Sister Rita Rose Stohosky grew up in Portland. After entering the convent, she completed her high school education at St. Mary of the Valley Academy. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Marylhurst College and a master of religious education degree from Holy Names College at Fort Wright in Spokane, Wash.
Her teaching career took her to 11 schools across Oregon and Washington. She described it as “a special privilege to help open Seattle’s Our Lady of Guadalupe as a new school in 1962 and to teach for 18 years at my home parish, Our Lady of Sorrows School in Portland.”
She is an active volunteer and eucharistic minister at Portland’s Providence St. Vincent Hospital, serving in the pediatric department. She also teaches English classes for immigrants on the SSMO campus. • Born in Verboort to William and Delia Vandecoevering, Sister Agnes Marie Vandecoevering is one of 14 children. She attended Verboort’s Visitation School.
During her 60 years as a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon, she has been in charge of the convent bakery and dairy service and has served as chapel sacristan. She worked with the staff at St. Mary of the Valley School (now Valley Catholic Elementary School), supervising and assisting students in the lunch room and supporting the residency program.
For 26 summers, she “joyfully helped teach religious vacation school with my two sisters: Sister Mary Clare and Sister M. Anne. We taught in over 30 parishes throughout the states of Oregon, Idaho and Washington.”
During the past eight years, she has returned to Visitation School, where she assists in the lunchroom and teaches religion in the school and in the parish’s religious education program.
• Sister Anne Vandecoevering (Sister Wilhelmina) was born in Verboort to William and Delia Vandecoevering. She has thirteen siblings and attended Visitation and St. Mary of the Valley (now Valley Catholic) Schools. She earned a BA in education from Marylhurst College.
Sister Anne spent 36 years teaching first, sixth, seventh and eighth grade classes in the Portland area and the Spokane diocese. She was principal at Visitation School in Verboort for five years and taught 63 weeks of religious education classes over 26 summers in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. She also was an accountant for nine years for the Sisters.
Now retired, she serves at Visitation School, where she assists in seventh and eighth grade math classes and teaches religious education for students preparing to receive the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist. She has also made about 550 prayer books for children.
• The ministry of Sister M. Juliana Monti blends her love of music and education.
With a master’s degree in music education from the University of Portland, she has spent 49 years at the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus. She served as fine arts and music school chairperson; taught choir, vocal ensembles and handbells; and continues to give private lessons.
She introduced a requirement for all fourth graders to learn to play an instrument and for all middle school students to participate in band, choir, or orchestra. She established performance tours for high school band, choir and orchestra classes, as well as lettering in art, drama and music.
In 1999, she was a co-winner of the Oregon Symphony’s Patty Vemer Music Education Appreciation Award. In 2012, the Beaverton Arts Commission honored Sister Juliana and the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Music Program as “Performing Arts Educator of the Year.”
• The youngest of William and Barbara (Hillecke) Sohler’s eight children, Sister Barbara Rose Sohler was born in Hillsboro.
She attended Visitation School in Verboort and Banks High School. She received her bachelor of science degree in education from Marylhurst College and has taught in the following schools: St. Cecilia, Holy Trinity and Valley Catholic in Beaverton; St. Joseph in Salem; St. Matthew in Hillsboro; and Mound Bayou School in Mississippi.
She says it has been her “privilege and joy to travel extensively throughout the world mainly by means of teacher grants and several Fulbright scholarships.” Sister Barbara Rose enjoys gardening, walking, reading and classical music.
• From the time she was a child, Sister Juanita Villarreal joined her family in migrant work in Minnesota, Illinois, Washington and Oregon.
During the summer of her junior year in high school, she visited the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus. After completing high school, she joined the community, then graduated from Marylhurst College. She earned a master’s degree in education and has continued her education at Portland State University, Universidad Ibero Americana in Mexico City, and Universidad de Avila in Spain.
Her career has included teaching in elementary, junior and senior high schools as well as Mount Angel Seminary. Sister Juanita has been a pastoral associate and served as a parish administrator in Dayton. Her love of travel has taken her to Mexico, the Holy Land, Costa Rica and many European countries.