Changing times. Lasting values.

From the horror of Sept. 11 to the “Great Recession,” the first decade of the new millennium was a time of rapid change throughout the world. The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus was no exception.

From the creation of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Investment Committee to the establishment of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon (SSMO) Ministries Corporation, the Sisters embraced the business structures and technology of the 21st century.

In 1999, there were approximately 70 computers across the Sisters’ campus. There were no websites or wireless networks. By 2016, the campus hosted 600 computers, 175 wireless access points, five websites, 13 social media sites, 100 security cameras and, on any given day, 900 simultaneous wireless devices, 50 servers (30 physical; 20 virtual) and four internet connections with a speed of 1.2 Gb (gigabits).

In 2006, Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen became the first president of the SSMO Ministries Corporation, which provides the services that support the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and their sponsored ministries, which include Maryville, Valley Catholic School and the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Foundation. Those services include communications and marketing, facilities (maintenance and custodial service), finance, human resources, information technology and strategic planning.

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Sisters, students, faculty and staff celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus schools. This photo was taken on Oct. 21, 2002.

The pace of construction and growth was unparalleled.

During the 2002-2003 academic year, the Sisters, students, faculty and staff observed the 100th anniversary of the campus schools.

In 2008, all of the campus schools were unified as Valley Catholic School, Oregon’s only pre-kindergarten through 12th grade Catholic educational system.

As the Sisters celebrated their 125th anniversary in 2011, the new elementary and middle school was dedicated and students in kindergarten through fifth grade moved out of the classrooms in the west wing of the SSMO Motherhouse.

Students and faculty saw enhancements in academics, athletics and the arts.

Highlights included the opening of the Valley Catholic Athletic Center (2006), lights on the athletic field (2013), a grandstand and field house (2014), enhancements to Kelly Auditorium (2015) and the opening of a new science building (2016).

By 2016, Valley Catholic was welcoming about 1,000 students each day.

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SSMO Superior General Sr. Charlene Herinckx and Archbishop Emeritus John Vlazny cut the ribbon to dedicate Maryville’s South Unit, joined by SSMO Ministries President Sr. Adele Marie Altenhofen (right) and Maryville leaders and supporters.

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In 2015, Maryville added to its services by opening a new unit. Maryville’s south unit features new space for 16 beds for adults who need high-quality, short-term rehabilitation and it offers a therapy courtyard. 

Maryville was also growing to meet changing health care needs. In 2011, St. Theresa Convent was renovated to create Maryville Memory Care, a residential facility devoted exclusively to the care of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Four years later, Maryville opened a south unit and therapy courtyard for patients who need care while undergoing short-term physical rehabilitation.

The path forward

The campus had expanded so rapidly that visitors weren’t always finding it easy to reach their destination.

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In 2016, the Sisters and the SSMO Ministries Corporation entered into a joint wayfinding project to create new and lasting signage and maps to guide generations to come.

The Sisters’ legacy is rooted in meeting the needs of the community: yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Superior General Sr. Charlene Herinckx captured the heart of the Sisters’ mission, history and legacy when she said: “What I see in our history is our being faithful to God and God being faithful to us.”