Our History

We, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, share in the mission of Jesus by proclaiming the Good News of God’s love.

For 130 years, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon have been committed to compassionate, joyful service. They have dedicated their lives and ministry to community care through faith and action.

Their history begins at a castle in Switzerland and continues at their historic Motherhouse in Beaverton, Oregon.

It is a remarkable story of hardship, humility, faith and hope.

In their own words


Capturing history at signature moments
  • The Catholic Sentinel printed a commemorative booklet in honor of the Sisters’ Golden Jubilee (1886-1936). It includes the program for the “Queen of the Valley” Historical Festival and Pageant presented by the Sisters at Benson Polytechnic School.
  • In honor of the Sisters’ centennial celebration, Fr. Wilfred P. Schoenberg, S.J. of Gonzaga University wrote These Valiant Women, capturing the history of the Sisters through 1986. In 1987, the Washington County Historical Society presented a “Griffin Cabin” award to the Sisters for preserving the historical heritage of the county by commissioning the book. Copies of These Valiant Women are available in the gift shop in the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse.
  • In 2007, Sr. Charlene Herinckx compiled “No sacrifice too great…no task too difficult” to capture the history of the SSMO Community during their 120th anniversary.
  • The Fall 2016-Winter 2017 issue of Spirit magazine is dedicated to capturing the Sisters’ history. As SSMO Superior General Sr. Charlene Herinckx and SSMO Ministries Corporation President Sr. Adele Marie Altenhofen noted in their opening letter: “When people share their experiences, they bring their own perspectives. Memories can become hazy. As we pored through items from our archives – as well as books, newspaper articles, and other materials – we sometimes found differing versions of events. We also found that much of our history was scattered across different resources. Friends and alumni would ask questions, and no one had the answers easily at hand. This special issue of Spirit was created to capture – to the best of our ability – our story across decades.”