Sr. Ina Marie Nosack
Sr. Ina Marie Nosack
BEAVERTON — The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon will pay tribute to three religious sisters who are celebrating significant anniversaries of vowed religious life.

The women — marking 50, 70 and 75 years as sisters — will be honored at the jubilee Mass and reception Sunday, July 28, at 1:30 p.m. in the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel, located at the motherhouse.


Sr. Ellen Therese Berger

After graduating from high school, young Ellen felt a call to enter religious life. She reached out to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and became a member of the community in August 1969.

Sister Ellen Therese received a bachelor’s degree in education from Portland State in 1976 and began teaching third grade at St. Mary of the Valley (now Valley Catholic). After eight years of teaching third grade, she taught first grade for six years.

In 1990, Sister Ellen Therese taught primary grades at St. Mary School in Stayton and started the kindergarten program there.

She then moved on to Holy Redeemer School in Portland, where she taught kindergarten and first and second grades for a total of eight years. She currently teaches English to adults at the Sisters of St. Mary campus.

“I feel very grateful to have been involved in the teaching ministry — ministry that I have found to be very life-giving,” said Sister Ellen Therese.


Sr. Ruth Etzel

“It is not hard for me to believe in personal miracles when I think of my call to religious life,” said Sister Ruth Etzel, who grew up on a family farm.

With no neighbors nearby, she mostly worked and played at home. At 4 years old she began attending religious education on Sunday after Mass with her older sister. “Sister Justina, the teacher, was very patient and worked to keep me happy while I was in her classroom,” recalled Sister Ruth. “I learned to love God and the sisters.”

By sixth grade, she knew she wanted to be a sister and a teacher. She went to boarding school at St. Mary of the Valley before entering the convent.

Sister Ruth went on to serve in education in Oregon and Washington until 1997, when she became director of formation for the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.

In retirement, Sister Ruth has devoted herself to serving the sisters in the chapel as sacristan, as a bookkeeper and through gardening.

“The privileges of daily Mass and holy Communion, as well as living in the same house where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, have been my strength in religious life,” she said. “God’s grace and miracles have sustained me throughout these 70 years and continue to do so daily.”


Sr. Ina Marie Nosack

Born Betty Nosack June 25, 1926, in Gervais, Sister Ina Marie attended 11 years of public school before enrolling at St. Mary of the Valley for her senior year of high school. She entered the convent in 1944, hoping to be a missionary someday.

Sister Ina Marie said she loved all her years of teaching, from 1948-1966, including her one year at St. Mary’s Boys’ Home in 1953, which was the last year the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon served there.

In 1966, Sister Ina Marie got her wish to be a missionary. She was one of four Sisters of St. Mary selected to go to Tamshiyacu, Peru, where she became the principal of a new high school. Upon returning home from Peru she served as principal of St. Mary School in Stayton for seven years before beginning work at St. Alexander Parish in Cornelius. At St. Alexander she used her knowledge of Spanish to help the parishioners, including two women who had a religious vocation. Today one of them is a Carmelite sister and the other is a St. Mary of Oregon sister.

Following her official retirement, Sister Ina Marie has primarily devoted herself to the needs of the sisters by baking, driving, canning, freezing and “generally doing what I can to help others,” she said.