Jubilarians from the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon
Jubilarians from the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon
BEAVERTON — The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon will honor six Sisters who are celebrating significant anniversaries in their service and ministry during the annual SSMO Jubilee Mass and reception.

The Jubilee Mass will be held on Sunday, July 31, 2016, in the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel in the SSMO Motherhouse. The SSMO Motherhouse is located at 4440 SW 148th Avenue, Beaverton, at the corner of TV Highway and Murray Boulevard. The Mass will be followed by a reception for family and friends.

With a combined 315 years of service, this year’s SSMO Jubilarians are: Sister Thuy Doan, celebrating 25 years; Sister Mary Ellen Hanson and Sister Josephine Pelster, celebrating 50 years; Sister Janice Boogaard and Sister Ruth Frank, celebrating 60 years; and Sister Alberta Schwall, celebrating 70 years.

Sister Thuy Doan – 25th Jubilee

“I have been asked many times: ‘Why did you choose religious life?’ At each stage of my life, I have had a different answer according to my experience of living in a religious community,” says Sister Thuy Doan, who is celebrating her 25th Jubilee.
As an 18-year-old girl, Sister Thuy says she felt that religious life would pave the way to a better education. After her first vows, she felt that religious life meant making a covenant to live for God and others. After her final vows, she expanded that belief and began to see religious life as a process of transforming oneself to “be more like Jesus and to live radically for God and others."

And now, after 25 years as a Sister, Sister Thuy says she feels that her life is filled with grace. “God is the One who has chosen me and directed me through the Sisters in my community,” she says. “I feel loved and supported.”
As Sister Thuy looks to the future, she says she holds scripture from the prophet Micah 6:8 close to her heart: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Sister Mary Ellen Hanson – 50th Jubilee

“As the firstborn in a Catholic family with three children, I experienced love, stability and early formation in the faith,” says Sister Mary Ellen Hanson, who is celebrating her 50th Jubilee. Early in her ministry, she served at the SSMO infirmary and at Maryville, which provides long-term skilled nursing care on the SSMO campus.  She later participated in pastoral care training and a Eucharistic Congress.

While caring for her aging parents, Sister Mary Ellen completed the Sacred Art of Living and Dying program and served as parish coordinator for the Communion to the Homebound program.

After a sabbatical at Marymount Hermitage, Sister Mary Ellen returned to service, volunteering in pastoral care at Maryville, with the parish nursing team at Holy Trinity and with Red Cross, assisting in their blood draws.

“Being a Sister is your whole life. Everything that you do is to focus on a loving God and people in need,” she says.
In her spare time, Sister Mary Ellen says she enjoys connecting with her fellow Sisters, and family and friends, through SSMO retreats, classes at the local senior center and activities such as hiking, skiing, bird watching, gardening and choir.

Sister Josephine Pelster – 50th Jubilee

At some of the most difficult times in people’s lives, Sister Josephine Pelster says she feels called to provide faith and comfort.

She was born to parents of faith who “frequently prayed for religious vocations for their children.” Sister Josephine says she experienced the “prayerful, joy-filled presence” of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon during religious education classes, and soon after, heeded the call, dedicated her life to God and entered the SSMO convent.

Sister Josephine says she found great joy in nursing. She spent 30 years as a nurse at Maryville before entering into her current ministry of pastoral care. Today, she serves as director of pastoral care at Maryville, where she “feels blessed to pray with the dying and comfort loved ones.”

During a summertime retreat in Los Altos, California, Sister Josephine says she experienced a life-changing encounter with Jesus through scripture and daily Eucharist. A few years later, she was asked to return to the retreat as spiritual director, something she says she “deeply desired and felt very blessed to do.”

“I am grateful for God’s fidelity to me over the last 50 years,” she says, “as well as the support and challenges provided me by the SSMO with whom I live and serve.”

Sister Janice Boogard – 60th Jubilee

Sister Janice Boogaard, who is celebrating her 60th Jubilee, spent the first 25 years of her ministry as a cook and housekeeper in service to her fellow Sisters. She also spent 15 years as a religious education teacher before being called to serve as the director of religious education at St. Boniface Church in Sublimity, Oregon.

“My class sessions leading up to my degree were filled with so much grace and joy as I became more ready to work full time in a parish,” says Sister Janice, who received a pastoral ministry degree at Marylhurst University and went on to serve at parishes in Washington and Oregon.

Today, she is involved with the SSMO Associate program, in which she invites others to experience life according to the SSMO charism and values. She also volunteers at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, Maryville and Valley Catholic School.

Sister Janice says she fondly remembers participating in a Holy Land study tour and walk of faith, as well as a pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome. “I want to celebrate the fact that God has been so good,” she says. “My life has been fulfilling in so many ways. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

Sister Ruth Frank – 60th Jubilee

Sister Ruth Frank, who is also celebrating her 60th Jubilee, comes from a large, devout family, with several members called to religious life. She is the eldest girl of her eight siblings, including four sisters and four brothers. She attended high school at St. Mary of the Valley (Valley Catholic School) and entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon upon graduation.

Sister Ruth says she values lifelong learning. “Catholic education has been a hallmark for me,” she says. “I received an excellent college education by the Sisters of Holy Names at Marylhurst University, where I prepared for the ministry of teaching.”

During her years of ministry, Sister Ruth served as a teacher or principal at several Catholic schools in Oregon, including St. Michael School in Grand Ronde, Visitation School in Verboort, St. Cecilia School in Beaverton, Holy Cross School in Portland; Our Lady of Sorrows School in Portland; Sacred Heart School in Tillamook, and Archbishop Howard School in Portland.

“I was challenged and delighted by teaching,” she says. “I dearly loved helping students succeed and become the best they could be. I worked hard to be Christ’s hands and heart to the ones I served,” says Sister Ruth.

Sister Alberta Schwall – 70th Jubilee

At age 91, Sister Alberta Schwall says she has seen many changes in the world in her lifetime. As a student, she journeyed from a one-room, one-teacher schoolhouse -- which she traveled to and from on a horse and buggy -- to a high school with a graduating class of 300.

After experiencing the loss of two of her close-knit family members, she says she found encouragement in the SSMO Community.

Sister Alberta became a professed Sister in 1946 and focused her ministry on education. After teaching at St. Boniface High School in Sublimity and Tillamook Catholic High School in Tillamook, she served as principal of St. Mary of the Valley (Valley Catholic School), where she oversaw the move of the high school into its current building. “That move happened in three days,” she says. “It’s an event I will never forget.”

She later spent 10 years as principal of St. Matthew School in Hillsboro. “My years as a teacher and principal were very rewarding. I pray daily for all my students and for the teachers with whom I worked,” says Sister Alberta.
Approaching her 70th Jubilee, she offers this advice: “Live one day at a time and enjoy it to the fullest.”