The 1960s – 1970s

Body, mind and spirit

Faith and education had been hallmarks of the Sisters’ service since their founding. Now, some of the Sisters wanted to add ministry to care for the sick and aging.

Maryville Early Construction

Walls and ceilings begin to take shape at Maryville.

With support from Mother Colette, Sister Theresa Margaret Yettick applied for a government grant to build and open a modern, air-conditioned nursing home for 80 patients. There were 18 other applicants but Sister Theresa Margaret got the $300,000 grant – with the provision that it would have to be paid back in full if the nursing home didn’t stay open for 10 years. The Sisters borrowed an additional $600,000.

“It was a miracle,” Sr. Theresa Margaret said. “It was the prayers. We had nothing else to start with.”

The Sisters knew where they would build it – just south of the Motherhouse which was also home to St. Mary of the Valley Academy.

The campus bulletin noted that “the religious, as well as the students could visit the nursing home with convenience.”

The Sisters held a contest to name the facility. There was no prize and, in the end, it really was no contest. The name would be Maryville.


On Sunday, May 19, 1963, Archbishop Edward Howard dedicated Maryville Nursing Home. Guests enjoyed an open house and tea.

While Maryville observes its anniversary on June 4, there are no records documenting the origin of that date for the anniversary celebration.

Historic records indicate that the first patient was admitted on June 6. Her name was Gertrude Dove.

By June 1971, Maryville had added a west wing at a cost of $750,000.

The Sisters again received a government grant – this time for $250,000.

Maryville also added a chapel.

Maryville could now accommodate 120 residents.

After four months studying Spanish at Cuernavaca, Mexico, four Sisters began their ministry in January 1967. In the jungle at Tamshiyacu, Peru, located some 3,000 miles from the mouth of the Amazon River, the Sisters taught students and educated teachers. They continued their ministry until 1973, when political considerations in Peru – and hardships and illness – led to their return home.

Belief in the future: a new high school

In the late 1960s, many Catholic high schools were closing. But the Sisters believed strongly in the future of their high school.

This is a design sketch for a new high school on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus. The building was designed by architects Palmer A. Hewlett, James W. Jamison and Associates of Portland.

After applying to Rome for permission to borrow money, the Sisters received approval of their $1 million request.

Designed by architects Palmer A. Hewlett, James W. Jamison and Associates of Portland, the building and facilities would ultimately cost more than $1.7 million. Groundbreaking took place on Sunday, May 27, 1968.

1968 SMHS Groud Breaking

The 1968 groundbreaking ceremony for the Sisters’ new high school.

An unknown sister watches construction of high school

An unknown Sister watches the construction of the new high school on the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon campus.

When it was time to move into the new building, history repeated itself. Just as the Sisters themselves had moved their belongings into their new Motherhouse and school decades earlier, they were joined by students and teachers as they moved desks, chairs and materials into the new high school just before Thanksgiving vacation.

On Monday, Dec. 1, 1969, high school classes began at St. Mary of the Valley (now Valley Catholic High School).

A resting place of honor

By 1970, Tualatin Valley Highway had become a busy four-lane street. It was unsafe for the Sisters to walk across the street to their cemetery for funerals or for family members or guests to visit and honor deceased Sisters. So a new cemetery was created on land west of Maryville.

With employees of Mt. Calvary Cemetery working after hours, the cemetery relocation took place between November 1970 and September 1971.

The inscribed stones marking the final resting places of the foundresses are found along the main pathway in the cemetery, near the base of the statue of Mary.

As the “Motherhouse Chronicles” noted, “The Founders of our community are given a place of honor.”

Statue of mary
Mother Wilhelmine tombstone