Adorers of the Holy Cross stand joyfully to be recognized during a Serra Club Sept. 29 luncheon for women religious at the Doubletree Hotel in Northeast Portland. “It charges you all up,” one nun said of the day. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Adorers of the Holy Cross stand joyfully to be recognized during a Serra Club Sept. 29 luncheon for women religious at the Doubletree Hotel in Northeast Portland. “It charges you all up,” one nun said of the day. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Dick Safranski of the Portland Serra Club and Holy Names Sister Jane Hibbard acted like old pals during the vocations support club’s Sept. 29 luncheon for women religious. They’ve know each other since 1981, and Safranski even got Sister Jane to take a turn on the dance floor with him once at a Holy Redeemer School benefit.

Those are the kinds of friendships rekindled at the annual meal.

“It’s wonderful to see the people who continue to love us,” Sister Jane said during the lunch, held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Northeast Portland.

More than 60 sisters from 13 different communities attended.

“I just love seeing all the different sisters from different communities and getting to spend time with my own sisters,” said Sister Alexa Rebecca Weight, one of the newest Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. “There aren’t too many events I’ve experience where all the sisters get together.”

The lunch is a legacy of the Van Hoomissen family. It began in 1987 with the late Kevin Van Hoomissen as a chief organizer. He was longtime land manager for the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. The family has continued to support the meal and attend it in his honor.



“I appreciate what the Serra Club does and how important these things are for communities,” said Sister Krista von Borstel, executive director of Catholic Youth Organization/Camp Howard. She was a friend of Kevin Van Hoomissen.

“This is the nicest thing that is done publicly for us in the diocese. We look forward to it,” said Holy Names Sister Mary Ryan, a longtime teacher, principal and school development director.

“It charges you all up,” added Holy Names Sister Mary Courtman, 97.

“It’s great to meet all the other sisters and the people who support us,” said Sister Joanne Vaetz, a Franciscan Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows.

“You get a different perspective on religious life,” added Holy Names Sister Jaszkowiak, a veteran of parish ministry.

A pianist played while sisters and Serrans mingled over snacks and drinks.

“It’s the camaraderie,” said Sister Barbara Jean Laughlin, a former superior general of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. “So many times you worked with them or were on committees with them. You really got to know them as friends.”

“You see everybody happy,” said St. Mary of Oregon Sister Anna Nguyen. “The younger generation and the older generation connect with each other.”

At the sit-down luncheon, many sisters occupied tables with women from other groups.

“So many of the communities are spread everywhere throughout the archdiocese,” said Mother Mary of the Angels Bunty of the Sisters of Reparation. “We don’t have times when we just get together.”

“It’s nice to socialize with everybody and see all the different communities,” said Sister Maria Benedicta Hemminger, a Franciscan Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Sorrows. “We have, of course, Our Lord in common.”

In addition to chicken and vegetables, the sisters got a nice helping of gratitude.

“This is just a word of appreciation for all the wonderful work, often unappreciated, that women religious have done in the church and continue to do for the church,” Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith told the sisters. “The fact that so many people are here appreciating you shows you touched the lives of so many folks.”

“We do it for the pure joy it brings to the sisters,” said Paul Harris, a former Serra Club president. “I know they have given so much to the church. It just seems right to do something for them since they do everything for us.”