Sister of St. Mary of Oregon Mary Ellen Hanson, 87, died April 2. There will be a vigil service Thursday, April 8, at the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. The funeral Mass will be at 4 p.m. Friday, April 9, at the motherhouse.

Sister Mary Ellen was born Dec. 28, 1933, in Valentine, Nebraska.The first child of Nathaniel and Henrietta Bruggeman Hanson, she was later joined by a brother, John, and sister, Liz. Attending schools on various Native American reservations in Oregon and Montana brought to her early education a sharing in their music, history, language, culture, and environmental values that led to a life-long reverence for indigenous peoples.

Sister Mary Ellen graduated from Poplar High School in Montana. Having earned a full scholarship to Columbus School of Nursing in Great Falls, Montana, she followed her mother’s example and earned her RN diploma. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Seattle University in 1957. Prior to entering the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, Sister Mary Ellen worked as a public health nurse with Tacoma Pierce County Health Department in Washington.

Sister Mary Ellen credited the Vatican II Council and a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City as key to her vocation discernment. In August 1966 she was received as a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon. She professed her perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1971.

Sister Mary Ellen generously gave of her skills, knowledge, vision, and work in the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon community’s mission of proclaiming the Good News of God’s love.

In her ministry at Maryville Care Center in Beaverton she served as a staff nurse, in-service coordinator and social services technician until 1980. She completed Gonzaga University’s CREDO program in 1981, and focused her ministry in pastoral care, serving as a director of religious education in Ashland and Redmond, coordinator for the elderly sisters at the motherhouse, pastoral care minister at Mount St. Joseph Care Center in Southeast Portland and at St. Charles Hospital in Bend, and volunteered in Redmond’s Hospice Bereavement program.

From 1987 to 1990, she had a special joy as a caregiver to her parents in their home. After 1990, she served as a nurse case manager and a contract RN with the Oregon Department of Human Resources in Redmond. She served as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist to the homebound in Redmond and Prineville parishes. In 2005 Sister Mary Ellen moved to the motherhouse in Beaverton, where she proclaimed the Gospel with her music, art, appreciation for nature, birdwatching, and active participation in the SSMO Community.

Sister Mary Ellen had an awareness of God’s love found in nature, art, music, and prayer, and had a purposeful appreciation for the uniqueness of each person she encountered! She was active and intentional with over 50 SSMO Associates.

The associates join with Sister Mary Ellen’s family, John and Judie Hanson of Seahurst, Washington, Liz and Bill Smith of Deer Lodge, Montana, her well-loved nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, her SSMO community, and her friends in celebrating the life and gifts of Sister Mary Ellen.

Memorial gifts in Sister Mary Ellen Hanson’s honor may be made to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Retirement Fund.

May Sister Mary Ellen rest in the Holy One’s loving embrace!