An inseparable and dynamic team of compassionate servants and teachers
The Vandecoevering sisters’ childhood was filled with love and learning from their large family of 14 and religious leaders in Catholic school. So when their beloved older sister Clare joined the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, they knew it was also the place for them.
Sister Agnes Marie Vandecoevering and Sister Anne Vandecoevering entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon together in 1953. This year they celebrate their 70th Jubilee.
They join Sister Clare, who celebrated her 75th Jubilee last year. The three Vandecoevering Sisters have literally been an inseparable and dynamic team of compassionate servants and teachers.
The Vandecoevering Sisters were born in Verboort, Oregon. They spent 23 summers teaching catechism and religious vacation schools throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.
Sister Agnes Marie is passionate about her religious life, “I love being here. But, the most important part was giving my life to God and Jesus.”
Sister Agnes Marie spent 25 years of service at St. Mary of the Valley, overseeing the convent bakery and dairy service, was the chapel sacristan, and spent 35 years teaching and serving children.
“She’s [Sr. Agnes Marie] our angel. We call her our angel because she has a way of being where you need,” said Sister Elma, a cousin and fellow Sister.
With 35 years of service in children’s education, Sr. Agnes Marie is a great helper, listener, and teacher. “I have students who come to me now and tell me that I was the best of all the teachers they had. That makes a person feel very, very good.”
At school, Sister Agnes Maria helped in the lunch program. She would stop tears, frustrations, and messes by opening milk cartons and putting in the straw for the children, and she found many small ways to comfort them. When someone would come to fix the TV or computer, she always greeted them and sent them off with a thank you card and a cookie.
Sister Agnes Marie is known as a generous woman. Everything she does comes from a desire to serve. Unfortunately, a couple of years ago, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Sr. Elma said, “Even though Sr. Agnes Marie’s in pain, she is still such an angel and light to the SSMO Community.”
Sister Anne taught in the Portland and Spokane diocese for 36 years. In addition, she led summer classes in parishes throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho for four decades. Interestingly, she also served as an accountant for nine years for the SSMO.
Sister Anne’s colleagues describe her as quiet and focused. “Sister Anne is a person who does things beautifully and well, always with one focus in her mind and on her heart,” said Sr. Elma.
Sister Anne’s passion is math, and she was able to teach it throughout her career. As a result, she has many teaching success stories. For example, she’s incredibly proud that one of her classes had an overall average in math of 99 percent!
Sister Agnes Marie and Sister Anne have significantly served at SSMO, and it is an honor to celebrate their milestone Jubilee. They love remembering the joy and fun they’ve had together serving God and those around them.
When asked what advice they would give to a woman considering a religious life, Sister Anne said, “I would encourage a woman to consider it deeply. It’s a happy life. My sisters and I have been very happy serving God for so many years.”