Sisters of Providence recognize jubilarians
This year the Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph Province, recognize four jubilarians who have left to Oregon.
Sister Dianne Crawford is celebrating her 50th anniversary. Marking 60 years are Sisters Barbara Schamber and AnnMary Vu. Sister Mary Fox is celebrating 75 years as a Sister of Providence.
All the sisters observed their anniversaries this month with vespers, Mass and a reception.
A registered nurse and graduate of Seattle University, Sister Dianne has served in hospitals and elder care facilities in Olympia, Everett and Portland. She tells story upon story of how she gains strength from those she served.
“God’s love is always growing, whether you are serving someone or they are ministering to you. It is a continuous circle,” she says when reflecting on her ministry. “As you come to your life’s work, you need to come with an open heart. Be open to everything that comes your way. If you’re open, you will learn what you need to learn and God will be there.”
Sr. Dianne grew up on Vashon Island and attended Immaculate High School in Seattle.
Sister Barbara, who was principal of several schools in Portland in the 1970s and 80s, is now leader of the Mother Joseph Province, the third time she has held that position.
“It’s been a privilege serving in the leadership team,” said Sister Barbara. “The provincial council has been a gift to me because I have been able to visit with each of the sisters. We pray, we laugh and, sometimes, we cry.”
For someone so involved in leadership, however, her favorite ministry was teaching first graders because of their enthusiasm at that age for learning.
Reflecting on the role of Providence in her life, Sister Barbara points to the care and support she has received from parents, grandparents, siblings and the Sisters of Providence community.
“We all experience Providence in different ways,” she says, “but as people of faith we can see every day how God is present in our lives and our response is one of gratitude to God.”
Sister AnnMary joined the Adorers of the Holy Cross order in 1962, served for a time in Portland, then transferred to the Sisters of Providence in 2003. Her degrees in physics and chemistry prepared her for teaching in her native Vietnam but, once the communists took over, she was prohibited from teaching and was assigned to factory work.
Her life has given her plenty of opportunities to show trust in God. The decision to flee Vietnam with her family was difficult. She didn’t want to get her original religious order into trouble and feared what might happen if captured by Thai pirates. In her prayer, she told Jesus she would trust in his guidance. Happily, life is somewhat calmer now.
“It just shows you that no matter what the stage of your life, you can still do something powerful for God,” said Sister AnnMary. “Elderly people are still valuable.”
When she entered the Congregation in 1946, Sister Mary didn’t want to be a teacher or nurse but trusted that the community had many other opportunities. She was pleased that her first ministry was as assistant bookkeeper at the old St. Vincent Hospital in Portland. Years later she had the opportunity to serve as a novitiate officer in charge of the pantry, the sisters’ refectory and the sewing room.
She worked on the switchboard at Providence Heights in Issaquah, Washington, and then began her favorite ministry, 18 years as school secretary at St. Joseph School in Vancouver, Washington.
In 2012 she became the last sister to leave Vancouver, breaking the continuous stream of Sister of Providence presence dating back to the arrival of Mother Joseph in 1856.
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