News & Events

Our 2014 Valentine’s Tea

Service with a smile: Sister John Therese (standing) and Janice Altenhofen at the 2013 Valentine Tea.

The annual Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) Valentine’s Tea is one of the most popular events on the SSMO campus.

Originally scheduled for Feb. 9, the 2014 tea will be held on Sunday, Feb. 16 at from 1:30-4:00 p.m. in Conference Room 2A/B in the SSMO Motherhouse.

The tea, which is part of the Sisters’ Bethany Center series, is sold out.

The Sisters continually seek new ways to reach out to those in need. This year, guests will have the opportunity to support the Sisters’ ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program.

Guests will be invited to “take a chance” for drawings to win handcrafted items made by the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. Proceeds will benefit the ESOL program.

Items will be available for viewing at 1:30 p.m. The tea will begin at 2:00 p.m.

For additional information, contact Sr. Noreen Orazio at 503-644- 9181 (ext. 5099) or by writing to

Additional photos from our 2013 Valentine Tea are available on our Flickr site.


Remembering Sister Anna Hertel

Sister Anna Hertel (1937-2013)

A vigil service was held on Tuesday, Dec. 17 for Sister Anna Hertel, SSMO, who died on Friday, Dec. 13 at the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) Motherhouse.  The vigil service was held at 7 p.m. at the SSMO Motherhouse.

A respected educator and leader, Sr. Anna served as Superior General of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon from 1985-1995.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 4:00 p.m. in the SSMO Motherhouse Chapel.  Interment took place on Thursday, Dec. 19 at 9 a.m. in the Sisters’ Cemetery.  The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse is located at 4440 SW 148th Avenue, Beaverton.

Sister Anna requested that memorial offerings be directed to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.

Sister Anna Hertel: A life of service

Born on May 30, 1937, the second of twelve children of Raymond and Agnes Hertel, Sister Anna has lived “in community” and displayed leadership and responsibility all her life.  She attended St. Matthew Parish School and St. Mary of the Valley (now known as Valley Catholic).  In preparation for her ministry, she attended Marylhurst College, Gonzaga University, Portland State University, and Lewis and Clark College.

Sr. Anna was received as a novice on August 15, 1955, and made her perpetual profession of vows on August 15, 1960.

Sr. Anna served as a teacher and/or principal in the following locations:  St. Mary of the Valley, Beaverton; Sacred Heart, Tillamook; St. Peter, Spokane; Holy Cross, Portland; Christ the King, Milwaukie; St. Matthew, Hillsboro; St. Agatha, Portland; and St. Cecilia, Beaverton.

From 1985–1995, Sr. Anna served as the Superior General of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.  During her two terms in this role, many developments occurred including the beginning of the Associate Program and the Bethany Center Program; opening of the Little Flower Development Center (now known as the Early Learning School); renovation of the Motherhouse, including centralizing the library; opening of the Priests’ Retirement Facility; renovation of Our Lady of Lourdes Convent for formation; changing Valley Catholic to a coeducational high school; consolidation of development offices for Community and entities on campus; and development of a strategic plan for the campus.

After earning a Certificate in Theological Study from the Jesuit School of Theology in 1996, she served as a pastoral associate for eleven years – first at St. Monica in Coos Bay and then at St. Clare in Portland.  From 2007-2010, Sr. Anna served as the Formation Director for incoming postulants and novices.

When the Community began the ESOL (English Students of Other Languages) Program in 2011, she quickly became part of the program and was successful in helping several students obtain citizenship.  When she could no longer teach, she became the “greeter” of the students as they arrived for classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  Her last day of service in this way was December 5, 2013.

May she rest in peace!


Supporting a lifetime of service: the Retirement Fund for Religious (RFR)

A lifetime of prayer and service unites nearly 34,000 senior Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests who benefit from the Retirement Fund for Religious.

Most spent years in ministry working in Catholic schools, hospitals and social service agencies often for little, if any, pay. Their sacrifices now leave their religious communities without adequate savings for retirement and elder care.

A gift to the Retirement Fund for Religious helps provide prescription medications, nursing care, and more.

Since the first appeal for the Retirement Fund for Religious was conducted, over $660 million in financial support has been distributed to religious communities in the United States. In 2012, the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) awarded $23 million in Direct Care Assistance to 440 religious communities, or an average of $932 for every member of an eligible Catholic religious community who is age 70 or older.

In additional to providing large grants to the retirement funds of many religious Communities, the National Religious Retirement Office has broadened his goals to include providing smaller grants for ongoing education and enhancement of care for members of religious Communities.

In April of this year, the National Religious Retirement Office provided a grant of $5000 to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon through its Management and Continued Education Grant Program.  With these funds the Sisters were able to have a consultant review procedures and practices of the Infirmary staff at the Motherhouse; have a speaker on The Dimensions of Wellness; have a consultant review with the Finance Department a software program that analyzes the assets and liabilities of the religious Community regarding funding ongoing retirement needs; and provide a speaker for a six-part series on Habits of Health.

A collection will be made in most parishes on Dec. 7-8.  For more information or to donate, visit

Or mail your donation to:

    Retirement Fund for Religious
    National Religious Retirement Office
    3211 Fourth Street NE
    Washington DC 20017-1194

This link will take you to the donation form to accompany your gift.

Thank you for your gift in support of those who have given a lifetime.


Letter from the Superior General: December 2013

Sr. Charlene Herinckx, Superior General, Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon

Dear Family and Friends,

Dec. 3 is National Giving Tuesday!  This was a new event for me.  Evidently I missed the inaugural one last year!  I did a little research and found that the day was created not only to support nonprofit organizations, but, in my view, it serves as a way to start the annual holiday season in a balanced fashion after Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

In a way it reminded me of a cartoon I saw recently about volunteering.  In the frame cartoon, an exhausted woman stated “Volunteering has left me dead tired, beat up, exhausted, famished, cranky, sore . . .  and feeling great!”  Charitable giving is bound to have the same end result!  And in the spirit of our recent national holiday, I want to thank all of you for your great love and support of our religious Community.

Your financial support as well as the abundance of produce from gardens and orchards has blessed the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon since the first day of our existence.  We hope you know our affection and prayers for you and those you love.

You will be specially remembered in our Christmas Novena of Masses on the nine days before Christmas.  May this season be a blessed time for you!


Sr. Charlene


How will you participate in Giving Tuesday?

Submitted by the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Foundation

Every fall the SSMO Foundation launches the Annual Fund Campaign to raise critical financial resources for the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, Valley Catholic School and Maryville Nursing Home.

This year, we’re proud to be adding something new. The SSMO Foundation has partnered with the national Giving Tuesday campaign with dual goals of procuring 50 new Annual Fund gifts and raising awareness in our community for nonprofit organizations.

What is Giving Tuesday? Giving Tuesday is an initiative that inspires people and organizations to promote, model, and spread generosity throughout their networks and together makes a national collective impact! You’ve heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Now, after a full weekend of food, football and mall frenzy, Giving Tuesday encourages people to give back. Whether gift of time or treasure, every act of kindness matters.

Mark Dec. 3 on your calendar.  Find a way for you, your family, friends, or your organization to join in acts of giving.  Tell everyone you can about what you are doing and why it matters. Together, passion will turn contagious as we transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.

Be part of Giving Tuesday by making a gift today!

And please share your Giving Tuesday story with us at


Saint of the Month: St. Francis Xavier

Submitted by Sr. Charlene Herinckx, Superior General, SSMO

For most members of the Community, our devotion to St. Francis Xavier was assumed to be the result of the influence of the Jesuits on our early years, especially knowing that they helped to formulate our Constitutions.

The truth is that having St. Francis Xavier as a patron of our Community stems from our grass roots with the Precious Blood Communities.

The founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood was St. Gaspar del Bufalo who at the age of 2 was gravely ill.  His mother went to the Church of Gesu in Rome to pray for him and he recovered.  It is presumed that this had a great impact on his mother and that Gaspar’s devotion developed accordingly.

There are several religious communities of Sisters based on the spirituality of St. Gaspar’s Spirituality of the Precious Blood.   Our origins are with the Sisters of the Precious Blood and according to Sr. Pulcheria’s manuscript “And So It Happened and Not by Chance”, the Community’s devotion to St. Francis Xavier predates the early 1900s when the Jesuits served as our retreat directors and guides.

History reports that a colleague wrote this about St. Francis Xavier: “I have never met anyone more filled with faith and hope, more open-minded than Francis. He never seems to lose his great joy and enthusiasm. He talks to both the good and the bad. Anything he is asked to do, Francis does willingly, simply because he loves everyone.”

Learn more about St. Francis Xavier, one of the greatest missionaries in the history of Christianity.


SSMO Associates: Connected in faith and service

Submitted by Sr. Catherine Hertel, SSMO

Above left: Associate Judy Tomes (on the right).  Above right: Associate Lorraine Roggenkamp (on the left).

Associated Beth Varner (left) with Sr. Mary Ellen Hanson

Who are the SSMO Associates?

Since 1990, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon have encouraged Associate Members, a group of dedicated men and women who work in their own local areas to spread the spirit of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) and the Good News of Jesus Christ. SSMO Associate Members may be found anywhere. They may be  next door to the SSMO campus or as far away as Montana.

What have the SSMO Associates been doing?

Two Associates joined Sr. Janice and another couple at the beach for a couples’ retreat.

Seven Associates joined Sr. Barbara Jean and Sr. Catherine at the beach during a weekend in late November, reflecting on the words of Pope Francis and sharing on the how these words reflect their own lives.



  Associate Joe Spenner builds churches in India and provides programs for Indian children.

Associates are very busy people.

  • They support their families with extraordinary love.
  • They are generous with their time, talent, and treasure.
  • They bring Communion to the homebound.
  • They pray….they pray…they pray.
  • They work at St. Vincent de Paul.
  • They do receptions after funerals.
  • They volunteer at Meals on Wheels and Loaves & Fishes.
  • They provide volunteer ambulance service in rural towns.
  • They send money to build churches in India.
  • They make a difference in their work place by the values they live.
  • They take in foster children and take action in local government.
  • They participate in their parish liturgies.
  • They lead Knights of Columbus groups.
  • They teach in S.M.A.R.T. programs.
  • They volunteer in hospital emergency rooms.
  • They work with immigrant adults and children and prepare people for citizenship.
  • They walk with others who are lonely, hurting, in difficult times.
  • They are people of prayer, living in simplicity and love and serving as compassionate, joyful servants of the Lord.

To learn more – and to become an Associate – contact Sr. Catherine Hertel by email or by calling 503-906-1135.


Renovations – A necessary disturbance!

Submitted by Sr. Charlene Herinckx, Superior General, Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon




If you have ever needed to renovate your home, you will recognize these thoughts: “What a mess; it’s so noisy; and will this ever end?!”

The Sisters have had those thoughts since July as the rest rooms on the first and second floors in the west wing of the Motherhouse were remodeled to accommodate the current users (employees and ESOL students).


A small chapel on the third floor, where a later Mass (later than 6:15 a.m.) is offered on weekdays was enlarged by removing a closet and telephone booths (no longer needed because there are phones in every bedroom).  The results were stunning, particularly the four windows along the hallway that are covered with “decorative film.”

A major change has also taken place in the fourth floor shower room which had five showers, two toilets and a tub; the room now has a walk-in tub, two easily accessed showers, a toilet and two sinks.  Needless to say, in this old building there were many surprises once the walls and floors were opened – pipes going nowhere and for not purpose, for example!

The changes are wonderful and very much appreciated.


Meet the Sisters: Sister Barbara Rose Sohler

“I persevere in religious life because of my desire and love for God.”

In her own words, Sister Barbara Rose Sohler shares her gratitude to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) community.

We are proud to honor her ministry and service.  Her biography (shared during our 2013 Jubilee) is available on our website.

Photos of Sr. Barbara Rose’s life and ministry are available on our Flickr site.

Sr. Barbara Rose Sohler

I persevere in religious life because of my desire and love for God. This strong desire to be close to God has always been my motive for living as a Religious Sister. I felt this very strongly even when I first entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon convent long ago.

Living in a community of sisters who have the same ideals that I do helps me to be faithful.  Religious life is built on companionship with the sisters, our daily schedule and structure. The Religious life style helps all of us on our way to God by providing good example and encouragement. We all have the opportunity to attend Mass daily and to pray always. Our prayer and companionship gives meaning and purpose to my life and I am very grateful to God for inviting me and I am grateful to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Community for sustaining me. I believe that it must be God’s desire for me that leads me to desire God.


Soup’s On 2013: a delicious success

Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle and his wife Ann enjoy Soup’s On 2013.
Sr. Delores Adelman presents the Silver Ladle award to the Qdoba team.


Youngsters got hugs from the black bear and adults said, “Mmm. Mmm. Good.” as they tasted 20 delicious soups at Soup’s On 2013.  The annual event – now in its third year – benefits the Oregon Food Bank.  It is hosted by the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon with support from the City of Beaverton.

Guests at the 2013 event included Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle, Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan and emcee Joe Smith of KGW NewsChannel 8.

Soup’s On is held in the Valley Catholic Athletic Center. Local vendors provide soups, desserts, wine and coffee for the annual soup tasting event. Guests vote on their favorite soups, and awards were presented to the top three vote-getters.

2013 Ladle Award Winners

Gold Ladle Award – Thai Bloom – Chicken Tom Kha
Silver Ladle Award – Qdoba Mexican Grill – Mexican Gumbo
Bronze Ladle Award – Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill – Beer Cheese Soup

Emcee Joe Smith of KGW NewsChannel 8 presents
the Gold Ladle award
to the team from Thai Bloom.
Soup’s On: Making memories



About Soup’s On

Soup’s On draws hundreds of supporters each year. During the event’s three-year history, guests have included U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle.

According to the Oregon Food Bank, 270,000 people eat meals from emergency food boxes every month. Most adult emergency food recipients are looking for work, working, retired or disabled. Thirty-four percent of those receiving emergency food are children.

Plans are already underway for Soup’s On 2014. To find out how you can help feed hungry families and children in our community, please contact the organizers at 503-644-9181 or

Learn more about Soup’s On.

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