Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen’s ministry has included work as a teacher, principal and Motherhouse administrator. She is currently serving as the president of Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Ministries Corporation, which provides services that support the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and their sponsored ministries (Valley Catholic School, Maryville and the SSMO Foundation).
“I Love You — SO-O-O-o-o-o much!”
When I was a youngster, I learned at my mother’s knee to hold a small baby carefully, cupping his or her head in the crook of my arm when cradled in front of me and supporting the infant’s neck watchfully when moving him or her to my shoulder for a satisfied burp. I was also intrigued by a natural reaction that occurred when my mother would take the arms of the baby and pull them gently up and away from its body as she asked, “How much do you love me?” Immediately the little one’s mouth would open in a BIG “o” and my mother would fill in the answer, “SO-O-O-o-o-o much!”
As the eldest, I loved to help care for my younger siblings. I warmed bottles, changed diapers, and mixed rice cereal and mashed bananas. My favorite terry-cloth baby doll was named “Baby Jan” after my childhood hero – my mother. I thought that being a “mommy” was about the best thing going.
School years introduced me to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. I was now intrigued by a life of joyful, compassionate service of a different sort. Over the years, the thought of being able to serve many as a Sister versus serving a more limited number within a family setting tugged strongly at my heart. In 1982, on Valentine’s Day, I entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. It was with both great contentment and some consternation that I stepped into this new life as a vowed religious – leaving behind my childhood dream of being a mother.
A few years later, I was assisting in placing the final touches on the church decorations for my sister’s wedding. As the family all scurried home to change their clothes for the big event, I was left alone for a few moments in the solace of my home parish worship space. I sat in a pew and took in the sights. For a moment, my mind wandered and I pondered, “This could have been my life…” But then, I was caught up in a different sight right before my eyes – the gigantic corpus of Jesus on the crucifix in the sanctuary. His arms were pulled up and away from His body – much like the way those little baby’s arms would be in the days of my youth. I heard a distinct voice, “Do you know how much I love you?”……. “SO-O-O-o-o-o much!”
I couldn’t be happier being a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon.
Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen: Honored by the Portland Business Journal as a 2018 Woman of Influence
Sister Adele Marie Altenhofen was selected as a 2018 honoree in the Portland Business Journal Women of Influence Awards.
According to the Portland Business Journal: “This award is designed to honor the region’s most influential business women from every industry and profession. These are women who have made a difference in their communities, blazed a trail for the rest of us and are leaving a mark on the Pacific Northwest community.”
Organizers note that Sister Adele Marie was the first honoree in the 15-year history of the awards to have embraced a religious vocation.