Sister Kathleen St. Martin died March 18. She was 92.
Born Aug. 2, 1921, to Elphege and Filomine Roth St. Martin, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, she attended boarding school at St. Mary’s of the Valley in Beaverton. She entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon at 18, took the name Sister Mary Elphege, and made her first profession of vows in 1943.
Her first ministry was teaching music, but she soon switched to elementary education, working in parochial schools around western Oregon, including a period of time as superior and principal of St. Michael’s school in Grand Ronde. She received a nursing degree at Clackamas Community College, and went to work in the community’s newly built Maryville Nursing Home. She began working at the DePaul detox center following her work at Beaverton.
In 1975, after a two-year probationary period with the Holy Names sisters, Sister Kate transferred her vows to the community and started her full-time mission to the men and women of Portland’s Skid Road.
She is survived by her sisters, Peggy Bubenik and Bernie Herrick;nieces and nephews; and the members of her religious community.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Thursday, March 27, at the Provincial House Chapel. Memorial donations can be made to the Holy Names Retirement Fund, P.O. Box 411, Marylhurst, OR 97036.
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014
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Kate St. Martin worked alone as a nurse, in large part without pay, making her daily rounds for more than twenty years deep inside Portland Oregon’s then-Skid-Road district, and this book recounts the lives and times of 115 of its male residents as seen through Kate’s eyes. Interspersed among the stories are 25 interview sessions between Kate and the author, 44 historical segments from the times, 6 photo galleries, an extensive glossary, and much more, including more than 50 available sound track excerpts (2.5 hours of audio) from the original recording sessions between the author and Kate. This work puts a face on those who live on Skid Road, exploring their personalities, their thoughts and attitudes, their living conditions, their relationships, and the disease of alcoholism. Through Kate’s recollections, the reader is given rare and privileged access to the everyday lives of individuals who all too frequently have been shunned by society’s mainstream. Cutting through the objectification that is commonly applied to Skid Road and other marginalized populations, Kate’s efforts offer a model for change that is both inspirational and practical, energized by love of people, and based on the simplest of formulas: “I go from moment to moment, from request to request, following through.” Available for purchase via convenient links on the author's web site: rontalarico.com