News & Events

Next at Bethany Center: Portraits of Mary

Dr. Elaine Park

In our next Bethany Center event, we will focus on Mary as a woman in her historical context as well as one who continues to inspire women and men of every era.

“Portraits of Mary” will be held on Saturday, May 3 from 9:00-11:30 a.m. in Room 2A/B of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse and Administration Building.

Using passages about Mary from Luke’s Gospel, Dr. Elaine Park will share insights on how Mary’s portrait is beautifully developed in the biblical texts and in prayer, art and music.

Dr. Park previously served as a professor of scripture at Mt. Angel Seminary and the University of Portland. She is currently the Pastoral Associate at Christ the King Parish in Milwaukie.

There is no fee for the workshop, but a free-will offering will be gratefully accepted.



Letter from the Superior General: April 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

The month of March was full of activities as you will see from the articles in this newsletter.  Some time was spent on planning for future events as well.

As you may know, six years ago we held our first annual “Armchair Vacation.”  From the comfort of the chairs in our Community Room, we traveled to Mexico for three days.  Presentations were made on various aspects of the country: food, dance, geography, history, famous people, etc.  Since then we have “traveled” to Vietnam, India, Tanzania, and the Philippines.

By unanimous vote, this year we are going to “visit” the homeland of our Pope Francis – Argentina.  If, by chance, you have visited Argentina or are from Argentina, the Planning Committee would be delighted to borrow artifacts, see your vacation photos, and/or hear about your experiences in Argentina.  Please contact me at or 503-644-9181.

Meanwhile, enjoy the flowers as we prepare for the great feast of Easter!


Sr. Charlene


We are VC! Sisters cheer for the Valiants at the state basketball tournament

Photos courtesy Sharlayne Buuck. Videos by SSMO Ministries Corporation Multimedia Specialist Jeff Szabo.

Left to right: Sr. Angeline Sohler, Sr. Adele Marie Altenhofen, Sr. Charlene Herinckx and Sr. Elizabeth Sohler visit Arlene's in Elkton on their way to cheer for the Valiants at the 3A state basketball tournament.

Left to right: Sr. Adele Marie Altenhofen, Sr. Charlene Herinckx and Valley Catholic School President Bob Weber cross their fingers for Valiant performances.


The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon are among the most loyal supporters of our campus schools.

So, when our boys and girls varsity teams both won berths in the 3A state basketball tournament, the Sisters went on the road to cheer them on.

It was an exciting tournament – with our varsity boys winning the 3A state championship and our varsity girls winning silver medals.


3A State Championship: video highlights


Saint of the Month: St. Benedict the African

His parents were slaves – brought from Africa to Italy. Freed at 18, Benedict did farm work before joining a group of hermits in Palermo. That group was ordered by the Pope to join the First Order of St. Francis (Franciscans). Benedict became their leader.

He was canonized in 1807.  Learn more about St. Benedict, honored as a patron saint by African-Americans.


A day of faith and sharing with SSMO Associates

Submitted by Sr. Catherine Hertel

Forty-five Associates gathered together on March 23 for the annual celebration of their covenant with the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.  New to the program this year are: Cheryl Gower (who lives in Arizona and was not able to attend), Pat Joyaux, Lupita Marquez, Magda Moreno, Kathleen Parry,  Theresa Sloan and Judy Winczewski.

The day started out with an inspiring DVD presentation on the life of Pope Francis, produced by the Knights of Columbus.  Pope Francis was totally dedicated to relieving the sufferings of the poor but was also able to make friends with the rich of Argentina.

After the Sisters and Associates shared lunch, they were treated to a presentation by Danielle Camacho and Matthew Cruz, who had been chaperones for a group of young people in Rio de Janiero during the summer of 2014.  Pope Francis had challenged them and about 3 million other people from around the world to be courageous in sharing the Good News of God’s love.

The day concluded with a summary of events in the convent and a prayer service of blessing and healing.

After their day with the Sisters, one of the new Associates said, “Why did I never think of this before?  It was beautiful.”

Another noted, “I want to say how much I appreciated the Covenant Day yesterday, seeing all the Sisters and enjoying the time with them. As usual, the dinner was delicious and being together was such a blessing.”

Another put it simply: “I always enjoy being in the company of the Sisters and this time was no different. Thank you for making me feel so loved. Blessings until we meet again.”


Additional photos from this joyful day are available on our Flickr site.


Meet the Sisters: Sister Evelyn Schwall

Each month, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon honor the life and ministry of one of their Sisters. This month, we are proud to feature Sister Evelyn Schwall, who will celebrate her 60th Jubilee in 2014.


Sister Evelyn Schwall

After nine years in the Loan and Collection Department of the Bank of America and National Trust & Savings Associates, Evelyn Schwall had reached a turning point in her life. She realized that she wanted to follow her grade school desire and enter religious life. She visited communities to decide where she felt called. Finally, she joined her great aunt, Mother Juliana Hermens, and her older sister, Alberta, in the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.

After entering the Convent, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Marylhurst College (University) and then earned her Master’s Degree in education administration from Portland State University.

From 1958-1987, Sister Evelyn taught in Catholic grade schools and high schools concentrating on religion, clothing, biology, chemistry, U. S. history, shorthand and German. Her innovative and efficient spirit shone at Tillamook Catholic High School, where she helped plan and build a series of sound booths for listening to tapes and a science lab for chemistry.

Each one of her students has, she said, “a pocketful of knowledge in my head. I knew most of their families. Each left the impression of their personality.”  She added, “When I see them, even though it’s 60 years later, I remember them. I remember the kind of students they were.”

When her mother needed support, Sister Evelyn found work in the nearby parish of St. Joseph in Marysville, Calif.  From 1990-1994, she worked in the CCD religious education program and supported a fundraising project for the refurbishment of the church.

Throughout her life, Sister Evelyn has enjoyed knitting and crocheting. As she celebrates her 60th Jubilee, she continues to make beautiful scarves and afghans for friends and the annual Maryville Nursing Home bazaar.  She also keeps up with the Schwall family – and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Photos from Sister Evelyn’s life and ministry are available on our Flickr site.


Letter from the Superior General: March 2014

Dear Friends and Families,

February had a few surprises for us – a snow and ice storm that caused us to stay home for a couple of days and the unexpected death of our Sr. Mary Hugh.  It seems strange to say that death came unexpectedly to someone who is 100 years old, but indeed it came as a big surprise to us.  Sr. M. Hugh was at the Welcome Prayer Service and Social we had for our new candidate Colleen on February 14.  Perhaps she thought the Community was in good stead with Colleen joining us because Sister died the next morning!  We were able to welcome about 25 of Sister Hugh’s relatives from Washington, Idaho, and Montana for the services.  May she rest in peace.

Please enjoy the photos and video of our Valentine Tea (which had to be postponed due to the snow).  The raffle of items made by the Sisters netted $323 for the ESOL program.  Snow also postponed a visit to the Community by Archbishop Alexander Sample and his mother Joyce.  It is my hope that they will come in the Spring when the campus is in full bloom and tour all the entities before visiting with the Sisters.

With not much patience, I am looking forward to the colors of the Spring flowers!


Sr. Charlene


Meet Our New Candidate

Submitted by Sr. Charlene Herinckx, SSMO Superior General

Left to right: Sr. Michael Francine Duncan, Colleen Schmitt, Sr. Joyce Barsotti and Sr. Charlene Herinckx

On February 14, the Community welcomed Colleen Schmitt as a candidate in our Formation Program that leads to profession of vows as a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon.

Colleen was born and raised in Michigan and is the youngest of three siblings.  She graduated with a degree in Social Work and worked for about a year before returning to school and earning a Master’s degree in Social Work. Colleen worked with a county mental health agency for about six years before taking a position at Michigan State University in a large ADHD study conducted in the Psychology Department.  For 10 years, Colleen has had various responsibilities in this ADHD study program, first in Michigan, and then at OHSU in Portland.

Sr. Michael Francine (left) welcomes Colleen

After the first visit with the Sisters, Colleen reported “I am very taken with the Sisters and with what they do, especially the helping professions.”  Following a few more visits, Colleen began to discern with Sr. Michael Francine, Vocation Director, about her sense of being called to become a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon.  With the completion of the application form and the interviews, Colleen was accepted as a candidate and is now living at the Motherhouse.  She is wrapping up her work and handing over her responsibilities at OHSU while beginning information sharing sessions with Sr. Joyce, her Formation Director.

Her nickname is “Smiley” – and you will understand when you meet her.


A Gala evening!

Submitted by Lisa Meltebeke, Events Manager, Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Foundation

Our campus is busy preparing for another exciting Valley Catholic School Gala.

This year’s Gala will be Saturday, April 26 at the Hilton Portland.

The evening is a great chance for our campus community to come together to celebrate Valley Catholic School.

There are many ways you can support the Gala. You may wish to consider hosting a Sister.

Or you may wish to consider making a gift to “Light a Fire” which supports students who would be unable to attend Valley Catholic without financial assistance.

Cash donations to the Gala can be made online now or at the event. If you’re interested in donating items or services, please contact the SSMO Foundation at

I hope you will mark your calendars and join the Sisters on Saturday, April 26, 2014.

If it’s anything like last year’s event, you won’t want to miss it!


Saint of the Month: Blessed Angela Salawa

Angela Salawa was born in 1881 in Sieprawa, Poland, near Kraków. Undernourished as a child, she grew up weak and sickly.

The 11th child of  Bartlomiej and Ewa Salawa, Angela spent nearly 20 years in domestic service.

During World War I, she helped prisoners of war without regard to their religion or nationality.

She died in 1922 in extreme poverty.  Her life is striking because of its simplicity and love.

Learn more about Blessed Angela Salawa.

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