March is the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) Heritage month. This year, the Sisters chose to celebrate their community and their founding Sisters, or “Foundresses,” through service.
One of the foundresses, Sister Johanna, encountered a hungry and homeless man who came to the Sisters’ door during the depths of the Great Depression, and Sister Johanna shared her meal with him. It was this example that has inspired in the SSMOs a special care for the vulnerable in need of food. The outreach to Catholic Charities to volunteer to provide the Wednesday Lunch brings that SSMO spirit alive today. Sisters volunteered to prepare the meal, which served 20 women experiencing homelessness or transitioning out of homelessness.
The Sisters chose Wednesday, March 24 as their day of service, one day before the Sisters observe Foundresses Day on March 25.
It was a team effort to prepare the meal, which consisted of chicken and rice, green salad, Jell-O salad, sweet bread and rugelach for dessert. The Sisters who prepared the meal were Sister Barbara Rose, Sister Patricia, Sister John Therese, Sister Delores, Sister Alexa Rebecca, Sister Ellen Therese, Sister Patricia Marie, Sister Thanh, Sister Anna, Sister Maria Kieu, Sister Josephine, Sister Marcella, Sister Marianne, and photographers Sister Alison and Sister Michael Francine. Sister Catherine was the delivery driver transporting the meal to the Catholic Charities—Housing Transitions Project in Portland.
With so many Sisters’ contributing time and skills, the project was completed with efficiency and echoed the SSMO spirit of “joyful servants of the Lord,” part of the SSMO charism.
The response from Catholic Charities’ Victoria Waldrep included appreciation for the meal, the skills, and love involved. “Our community was so very grateful for the warm homemade food you provided. Homemade food is delightful and so appreciated by our community. Again many thanks for your service to the women of Housing Transitions Program. We welcome your culinary skills and the love which was shown in the meal you made.”
The Sisters were excited about the opportunity to mark the 135th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, and to honor foundress Sister Johanna’s example of generous service. With the positive response from Catholic Charities and willingness to continue walking in the footsteps of their foundresses, many Sisters echoed the plan to repeat the project, not just on the 136th Anniversary, but, until then, on a monthly basis.