Sr. Paula Fox (nee Gertrude Katherine) was born in Watertown, South Dakota on July 25, 1927 to Joseph and Matilda (Cordell) Fox. She grew up in a lively Catholic family with six brothers and three sisters. Her early education was in South Dakota at Holy Rosary Catholic School, Goodwin Public High School and Watertown Public High School.
After high school, Sr. Paula attended Mount Marty University in Yankton, South Dakota, before moving to Oregon to attend Mount Angel College, the University of Portland, and the University of Oregon, where she earned her Master of Arts in Education in 1973.
Sr. Paula taught middle school in Richardton, North Dakota, Castlewood, South Dakota and in Tillamook, Oregon. She met the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon at Sacred Heart School in Tillamook. Later, she entered the SSMO on Aug. 15, 1957 and professed perpetual vows on Aug. 15, 1964.
From 1956 through 1982, Sr. Paula served as a junior high teacher or school principal at several schools in Oregon and Washington. In Oregon, she served at St. Mary of the Valley (now Valley Catholic School), St. Agatha, Sacred Heart, St. Mary, St. Matthew, St. John the Baptist, Our Lady of Sorrows, and St. Cecilia. In Washington, she served at St. Mary in Spokane and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Seattle. Sr. Paula commented that her early teaching experiences, teaching in both public and Catholic schools as both a layperson and a religious person, gave her a frame of reference and balance to guide her through 26 years as an outstanding educator.
In 1982, Sr. Paula left the ministry of education to begin work in pastoral ministry/chaplaincy. She completed her National Association of Catholic Chaplains certification in 1989. She served as Director of Spiritual Care or Chaplain at Mount St. Joseph in Portland, St. John Medical Center in Oxnard, California, Providence Mount St. Vincent in Seattle and the SSMO Infirmary.
Retiring from chaplaincy in 2001, Sr. Paula continued to share Jesus’ mission of proclaiming God’s love through her work in the SSMO English for Speakers of Other Languages program. In addition, Sr. Paula was an active contact Sister with many of the SSMO Associates.
Before entering the SSMO, Sr. Paula experienced a life-changing ministry in Delia, New Mexico. There, living among the poor, confronted by the problems of society and the Catholic Church, with her eyes and heart opened, she experienced (in the words of Pope Francis) “a privileged place of encounter with Christ.” That encounter inspired and supported Sr. Paula’s more than 60 years of joyful, compassionate service to her Lord, Christ Jesus. Sr. Paula engaged people with respect, humor, music and stories and in love and prayer for their concerns and needs. She brought to others the Christ whom she deeply encountered and loved.
Sister Paula Fox passed away on June 30, 2022 at Maryville Care Center. She is missed, loved and survived by her Sisters in Community, her many nieces and nephews, the Maryville caregivers and nursing staff, and her many dear friends and SSMO Associate members. Sr. Paula was preceded in death by her parents Joseph and Matilda (Cordell) Fox, her brothers William, Norbert, Roman, John, Daniel and Hilary Fox, and sisters Louise Stricherz, Agnes Stricherz, and Carolyn Mitchell.
May Sister Paula rest in God’s loving embrace.