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Home : Faith/Spirituality : Living Faith
2/15/2011 4:53:00 PM
Timeline: 125 years for the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon
Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon photos
The first convent in Sublimity.
Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon photos
The first convent in Sublimity.
Sisters canning green beans in the mid-1960s.
Sisters canning green beans in the mid-1960s.
From lay collaborators
"Since the day I arrived here more than three decades ago, I see the Sisters living out the phrases that are etched in bronze on their building in their day-to-day lives. They truly are compassionate and joyful servants of the Lord. Working with them for all this time, I have seen how they lead with gentle firmness, while always honoring the unique gifts of each person. I am so proud of my seven children, four of whom are current Valley Catholic students and three who are already graduated. This place will serve them well. They are growing stronger, faster and in the direction I want them to because they are here. It's another home for them and an extension of the our household."

— Marty Karlin, longtime Valley Catholic School art and English teacher


"I volunteer because it is my chance to thank the Sisters and the school for all they have done for my family over the years. The Sisters and their mission show me that all are welcome here. My family and I have a place among them and we feel like we belong."

— Paul Gram, volunteer, SSMO Foundation Board Director and parent of current and graduated Valley Catholic students


“I wish everyone’s boss woke up every morning with the intention of doing the right thing. Think what a wonderful world it would be. I’m incredibly blessed to have 70 bosses like that. How could I not want to help them be successful? Besides, it’s the only place I’ve ever worked where I didn’t have to come up with a polite euphemism for 'Christmas party.' For someone who works in human resources, you have no idea how liberating that is.”

— Joyce Howard, SSMO Ministries Staff


1843
Missionaries of the Precious Blood arrive in Ohio from Switzerland. A lay community forms around the order.

1866
Father Joseph Albrecht, outraged at the hoop skirts word by some worshipers, drives them out of church with a stick. He leaves the Precious Blood Community with several Brothers and Sisters.

1867
Settlement, which included Father Albrecht, parishioners, Sisters and Brothers, established in Rush Lake, Minn.

1879
Fire destroys Sisters' convent.

1884
Fr. Albrecht dies. Settlers faithful to him leave for Oregon with his remains. They arrive at Union Station in Portland and moved to Jordan.

1885
Archbishop William Gross confirms members of the settlement and meets with the Sisters, stating: “I want you to be my Sisters and help me with my work.”

1886
Confrontation with the trustees of the settlers results in some of the Sisters leaving Jordan and staying with the Benedictine monks for several months. Some of the Sisters remain in Jordan. Two Sisters (Emma Bleily and Catherine Eifert) move from Mount Angel to Mariazell Convent in Sublimity. The others join them within a few months.

1887
First Profession of Sisters: Clara Hauck, Wilhelmina Bleily, Benedict Arnold, Josephine Eifert, Cecilia Boedigheimer. Five novices are accepted: Gertrude Silbernagel, Aloysius Bender, Rose Eifert, Johanna Silbernagel, Magdalene Giebler Sister Wilhelmina (Emma Bleily) is elected first Superior General.

1888
Ministry of education begins in Sublimity. Mother Wilhelmina and Sister Cecilia go on begging trip to the East Coast.

1889
Archbishop Gross begins construction of St. Mary’s Orphanage in Beaverton.

1891
Ministry begins in Verboort and at St. Mary’s Orphanage. All but three Sisters move from Sublimity to Beaverton to help at the orphanage.

1892
Seven and a half acres just east of the orphanage property are purchased for the purpose of building a motherhouse. During the 1890s the Sisters and the orphans harvest onions to sell at a local farmer’s market.

1894
First Motherhouse is built and dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

1897
Sr. Josephine Eifert is the first Community member to die.

1901
Mother Theresa Heuberger requires that English become the language used by the community.

1903
St. Mary’s Academy (later known as St. Mary’s Institute) opens. Mother Theresa arranges to purchase 60 acres south of the railroad tracks (current location of the SSMO Motherhouse) for $4,000.
Meanwhile, Sisters who first went to Tillamook to teach traveled by train from Portland to Astoria and by tugboat to Tillamook Bay.

1905
Sisters decide to change name from Sisters of the Most Precious Blood to Sisters of St. Mary. Red cinctures of the habit are exchanged for black ones.

1918
When the Spanish Flu ravages the country, Sisters Agnes and Alexia O’Rourke minister to the needs of the parishioners in Verboort.

1920s
Mother Juliana bought a car – although no one knew how to drive.

1923
Garb Law passes, resulting in Sisters not being able to draw significant salaries as employees of the public school system in various Catholic areas.

1926
Congregation for Religious in Rome adds “of Oregon” to the name of the community.  

1930
Construction completed on the new Motherhouse and school building.  

1937
Golden Jubilee of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon is celebrated with a pageant produced and directed by Sr. Eugenia Eberhard, involving students from all the schools in which the Sisters teach.

1949
James Kinch, Sr. Delores’ father, builds the “park house” in Villa Maria.

1953
The community withdraws from ministry at St. Mary’s Home for Boys. The first television is purchased and placed in the school auditorium.

1954
The community purchases a bus to bring students to St. Mary of the Valley Academy, which is for girls.

1957
Sister Imelda Vandehey receives the first of two papal recognitions, the Pope Pius X medal for ministry in religious education. In 1959 she would receive the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal for service to the church.

1960
Lay Board of advisors established.

1961
First modification of the habit approved.

1963
Maryville Nursing Home built and dedicated. Sister Joseph Terhaar is named the first administrator.
 
1966
Four Sisters depart to minister in Peru.

1967
Archbishop Edward Howard retires to live on the Sisters' campus. Murray Boulevard is created through property.

1969
New building for St. Mary of the Valley Academy is completed. Students help move furniture. The school becomes known as St. Mary of the Valley High School.

1984
Boys are admitted to the elementary school again for the first time since 1905.
Fr. Louis Urbanski becomes the first non-SSMO principal of the St. Mary of the Valley High.

1987
Sisters attend their first computer class, taught by Dick Hermens.

1988
Revised Constitutions approved.

1989-90
Motherhouse renovated to improve infirmary. Bethany Center is founded to provide opportunities for spiritual growth and life-long learning. SSMO Associate program begins.

1991
Little Flower Development Center (now known as Valley Catholic Early Learning School) opens. The high school becomes co-educational in the fall. Name changed to Valley Catholic High School.

1992
Sr. Barbara Rose volunteers for a year at St. Gabriel School in Mound Bayou, Miss.

1993
Community leased land to the Archdiocese of Portland for the construction of St. John Vianney Residence for retired clergy.

1994
Holy Spirit Sisters from Tanzania came to the United States and reside at the Motherhouse until 2001.

1997
Jean Bomber becomes the first lay principal of the St. Mary of the Valley Grade School. All libraries on campus are connected electronically as the result of a grant from the E. L. Weigand Foundation.
 
2005
Kathleen Parry becomes the first lay administrator of Maryville Nursing Home.

2006
New Athletic Center and all-weather track dedicated at Valley Catholic High School.

2008
All levels of education on the campus (pre-K through Grade 12) become Valley Catholic School

2010
Groundbreaking and construction begins on the new K- 8 building, which has many environmentally sustainable features.

2011-12
SSMO celebration of 125th Jubilee includes various events and social justice projects.



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