8/22/2012 3:12:00 PM Sisters taught, learned and served through 50 years
Holy Names Sisters Patricia McKenzie, Mary Burke, JoJean Cavalli, Janice Matthies, Barbara Raymond, Mary Ryan, Lynda Thompson and Louise Tibbets.
MARYLHURST — Eight Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary are celebrating 50 years of vowed life this summer. Members of the largest Catholic women's religious community in Oregon, they have gathered with family and friends in locations around the Northwest to celebrate. A large crowd gathered last month at the chapel at the Convent of the Holy Names here for a celebration on the very spot where the women professed vows in 1962.
Sister Mary Burke (Sister James Marie) was one of five children born to a laundryman in Portland. When she entered the convent in July, 1960 she started training as an elementary school teacher at Marylhurst College. That marked the beginning of a lifetime of ministry in Catholic schools. She taught middle school for 11 years, a time she calls "happy and insightful." She then became principal at Sacred Heart Academy in Salem before a term as principal at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland from 1983-'88. Sister Mary then served at the National Catholic Educational Association in Washington, D.C. as the resource person for the Catholic identity and financial advancement of 1,200 Catholic high schools. She spent 1999 on sabbatical, traveling in an RV and taking part in many outdoor activities. Since then, she's been a consultant for school strategic planning and capital campaigns.
Sister JoJean Cavalli (Sister Mary Jessica) was the third of four children, the only girl . She calls her parents "practical models of loyalty, respect, resilience to life and a sense of responsibility." She was educated at St. Philip Neri, St. Mary's Academy and Marylhurst University. After entering the convent, she became a primary teacher, elementary principal, secondary vice-principal, and professor-supervisor at the University of Portland’s school of education. She began a ministry to support catechists. In 2010, she began to pursue volunteerism and prayer. "I understand retirement as a time to honor the contemplative dimension as our life as women religious," she says, having spent a sabbatical with Trappistine nuns in California. Currently, she is volunteering at Oregon Health and Science University, comforting babies born with physical limitations.
Sister Janice Matthies (Sister Mary Rebecca) attended St. Ignatius School and St. Mary’s Academy. The idea of becoming a sister of the Holy Names persisted through her youth. She entered novitiate in 1960 with what she calls "a magnificent group of women." After graduating from Marylhurst, she taught primary grades in Portland, Salem, Eugene and Medford. She also taught in St. Helens and St. Francis in Bend and was principal at St. Stephen School in Portland. Along the way, she went to school at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif. and received a master’s in theology in 1980. "My greatest delight was teaching the primary grades and watching the faces of those young children when they discovered they could read," she says. "Their world of learning was being expanded. What a thrilling experience for both of us." Sister Janice is now the Holy Names representative for sisters living in assisted living, skilled care and memory units at Mary’s Woods.
Sister Pat McKenzie (Sister Regina Maureen) born in Seattle and raised in Portland. Her parents helped build a Catholic school at St. Rita Parish in Northeast Portland. One of her earliest and favorite memories is of her mother kneeling by the bed saying the rosary, no matter how late. The sisters at Holy Child Academy inspired her to look into the life of a nun, even though she had landed a downtown job and loved buying lots of clothing. She taught grade school for twenty years and spent 15 years as St. Mary’s Academy attendance secretary. Students called her their "mom away from home.” She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1997 and is now retired.
Sister Barbara Raymond (Sister Mary Damian) has family roots in St. Paul, Oregon's old Catholic settlement. Her connection with the Sisters of the Holy Names, especially with the High School Sodality, was enough to draw her to the congregation, which she entered just after high school graduation. She taught U.S. history, Mass and the sacraments, sang civil rights songs with young people and began doing liturgical music with a folk Mass group. She taught at elementary schools and Sacred Heart Academy in Salem. After doing vocation work, she sought to minister in the Hispanic community. She is co-founder of Adelante Mujeres, a non-profit organization dedicated to the education and empowerment of low-income Spanish speaking women and their families. She retired in 2008 and currently does volunteer work, studies bluegrass guitar and photography and invites adults to spiritual community and prayer.
Sister Mary Patricia Ryan (Sister Carol Rose) has dedicated her entire ministry to education of children. She's now development director for Holy Cross Church and School in North Portland. One of eight children in a loving Irish-Catholic family, she decided to become a sister in third grade and negotiated detours before entering the convent in 1960. She taught at St. Mary’s in Eugene and St. Thomas More in Portland before moving North to Assumption School and then Holy Cross. She formed an alliance with UP that brings student teachers to Holy Cross and was chosen as the west region principal of the year. St. Mary’s Academy honored her for excellence in teaching. In addition to raising funds, she spent years running the before- and after-school care programs at Holy Cross.
Sister Lynda Thompson (Sister Susanne Maureen) is the daughter of an Iowa couple that moved west in 1951. After entering the convent and teaching, she spent a late 1960s summer in Louisiana during the civil rights movement. In the 70’s, she earned a master's degree in theology. Since then, she has taught PE to sophomores, Gerald Manley Hopkins to seniors and "whatever possible" to eighth graders in Medford, Salem, Eugene and Portland. She took part in weekend youth group retreats. Sister Lynda served on the Congregational Leadership Team in Montreal and the Province Leadership Team in Oregon. "Witnessing our Sisters in action in Lesotho, Winnipeg, Tutwiler, Miss., Los Angeles, the Yakima Valley and many other locales deepened my appreciation for the gift our charism is for God’s people, especially those marginalized and without hope," she says. She also received training as a hospital chaplain.
Sister Louise Tibbetts (Sister M. Anne Lucille) is the daughter of a sea captain and a school teacher who introduced her to the beauty and wonder of nature in the Pacific Northwest on family camping trips. Music has been an integral part of her life since the second grade and was the medium through which she heard the call to religious life. She has served as a music teacher, nurse’s aide, business administrator, pastoral minister and administrator and hospice chaplain. "Living amid a time of paradigm shifts within the Church and in general society has been both life challenging and life stretching," Sister Louise says of a religious life that started just as the Second Vatican Council was beginning.
She has lived and ministered in Seattle, Spokane, St. Helens, Portland, Talkeetna and Homer, Alaska and Montreal. She has lived with novices several times. She is now retired and living at Mary’s Woods.