5 Unique Women, 1 Amazing Commitment, 245 Years of Excellence
Each July, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon honor their Sisters who have reached a significant milestone of prayer, vocation, ministry and service to God through Jubilee.
The five women who are honored this Jubilee epitomize what it means to prayerfully consider a call to service and the joy that is found in this lifetime pursuit of a true counter-culture life.
Thank you Sr. Clare, Sr. Theresa Ann, Sr. Patricia, Sr. Julie and Sr. Juanna for your 245 combined years of commitment and service.
The 2022 Jubilarians
Sr. Clare Vandecoevering
“I would ask everyone to help thank God for all the blessings, joys, and graces I have received.”
Sr. Clare knew she wanted to be a Sister as early as first grade. She grew up in a family of 14 and is filled with joy to have spent her life serving God alongside her sisters (Sr. Agnes Marie and Sr. Anne).
She smiles as she remembers her mother’s sign hanging in her home that read “I am the mother of three nuns.”
Sr. Clare has taught in several parishes, including St. Michael’s in Grand Ronde, Sacred Heart in Tillamook, St. Andrew’s in Portland, Sr. John’s in Milwaukie, St. Matthew’s in Hillsboro, Sr. Mary’s in Stayton and St. Cecilia’s in Beaverton.
Sr. Clare put on a variety of gospel plays with her sisters and has taught catechism in more than 100 parishes.
At 91, Sr. Clare contines to minister through prayer.
“I am very grateful to God for my vocation, my family, Sisters in community, those I have worked with, met, and those who have supported me in so many ways through these years.”
In 1952, when Sr. Theresa Ann Bunker entered the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon, the one thing she knew she did not want to do as a ministry was teach. Her eagerness to serve and care for others confirmed that nursing would be her vocation.
Sr. Theresa Ann was born in McMinnville, Oregon, in 1933, and credits her parents and Catholic school education for her strong faith development.
In 1963, when Maryville officially opened on the Sister’s campus, Sr. Theresa Ann became one its first nurses. After forty wonderful years serving Maryville residents, she moved back to the Motherhouse and began serving in several areas. Nowadays, she enjoys her time for prayer and reading.
“Being a Sister has given me a life-long opportunity to share my faith with those I meet each day, especially God’s little ones.”
Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Sr. Juana Gutierrez grew up with nine siblings and moved to the U.S. in 1992. Living in Hillsboro, she enjoyed being close with her friends at St. Alexander Parish.
Through one of those friends, she met one of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon and began focusing on God’s calling at a Discernment Retreat at the Motherhouse in 1996.
Sister Juana recalls her two years as a novice as the best years of her life because of the deep prayer and the love she experienced.
Sr. Juana’s ministries have included the Hispanic Ministry at St. Anthony Parish in Forest Grove and teaching Spanish at Valley Catholic Early Learning School. Currently, she is teaching third grade at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Milwaukie.
“God is graciously merciful and full of compassion. He teaches me the values of emptying and receiving because he wants me to know that He is my all.”
Sr. Julie Doan grew up in South Vietnam. Her parents desired for her and her siblings to be free to worship God, pursue a brighter future and experience the rights and responsibilities basic to every human being.
That desire led to her escape from the North Vietnamese as a teenager with five family members. Sr. Julie vividly remembers the terrifying journey. Their boat was were robbed, harassed, and finally sunk by pirates. Nine of the 45 refugees died in the ocean. Many more would have experienced the same fate, but they were saved by Thai-Chinese fishermen.
Sr. Julie lived in refugee camps for nearly a year in Thailand. Life there was very difficult due to the harsh climate and lack of necessary food, water, shelter, and security.
Finally, her family found their way to the United States. Life remained a challenge as a Vietnamese refugee living but she was given the opportunity to grow in God’s love.
Her first experience with the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon was at Christ the King Parish School in Milwaukie where she was taught by, 75 year Jubilarian, Sr. Clare Vandecoevering and Sr. Anne Hertel.
Her call to become a Sister was postponed a few times. Before joining, she learned English, finished high school, got her associates degree and began working as a Vietnamese interpreter.
Finally, she visited the Sisters’ campus to serve as an interpreter for a friend who was interested in religious life. The Sisters’ warm and welcoming spirit captured her and their love and acceptance compelled her to join.
The Sisters encouragement helped Sr. Julie complete her master’s degree and start serving as a catechist, Motherhouse Administrator and elementary teacher. Currently, she is a third grade teacher at Saint John Fisher.