By Sister Joyce Lehman
Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon’s Council from left: Sister Joyce Barsotti, Sister Catherine Hertel, Superior General Sister Charlene Herinckx, Sister Krista Von Borste. Photo by Lois O’Halloran.
At the end of March, three Sisters, Sister Joyce Lehman, President; Sister Noreen Jutte, Archivist; and Sister Nancy Recker will travel from Dayton to Beaverton, Oregon, to celebrate with our “cousins.” They are going to be with the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon on the occasion of their 125th anniversary. Joining with them will be the Provincial and archivist from another group of “cousins,” the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity of Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
The roots of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon are intertwined historically with those of the Sisters of the Precious Blood of Dayton, Ohio. An event, infamously known as the “hoop skirt incident” precipitated by Father Joseph Albrecht in Himmelgarten, Ohio in 1866, started a long and difficult journey for a group of 12 Sisters, five Brothers and several families of parishioners from St. Joseph. Father Albrecht decided to break with the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and eventually the Catholic Church and took his small band to Rush Lake, Minnesota where he eventually died. The group, headed by the patriarchs of three of the founding families, then pushed on to Oregon.
While enduring the hardships typical of the early pioneers, this group of sturdy Sisters evidenced the ingenuity of frontier life and managed to stay together and remain faithful to their roots as Precious Blood Sisters, cherishing the Eucharist and Precious Blood devotion above all. As Precious Blood Sisters in 1886, they came under the protection and sponsorship of the Bishop of Portland, and in 1915, were named the Sisters of the St. Mary. After all these years they still hold Mother Maria Anna Brunner in a special place in their hearts.
We congratulate the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon on the occasion of their anniversary and celebrate with them their lives of faithful and committed service to God and God’s people.
As for that other group of cousins, the Sisters of St. Francis of Christian Charity, their connection comes from a Sister of the Precious Blood who left Fr. Albrecht’s little band in order to join with a small group of women who committed themselves to providing education to the Catholics in the area near Manitowoc and who thus founded that Congregation.
To learn more about the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, visit their website: http://www.ssmo.org/.