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Providence in the West: A Timeline, 1856-1902

1856-1902: Pioneering Healthcare and Education
1903-1960: Growth and Diversity
1961-1974: Transition Years
1975-2001: New Life through Collaboration

March 25, 1843Mother Emilie Gamelin founds the Sisters of Providence religious community in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
December 1, 1852 -
February 1, 1853
The first Sisters of Providence come to the American west from Montreal, but their mission is cut short by lack of preparation and support. On their way home to Quebec, they stop in Valparaiso, Chile, and remain to serve orphans and others in need.
December 8, 1856Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart and four Sisters of Providence arrive in Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory, from Montreal. They open their small home to orphans and the elderly.
April 15, 1857Providence Academy, first permanent school in the Pacific Northwest, opens in Vancouver as a day school, boarding school, and orphanage.
June 7, 1858The sisters open St. Joseph Hospital, Vancouver, the first permanent hospital in the Northwest (now Southwest Washington Medical Center).
March 19, 1859Incorporation of the Sisters of Charity of the House of Providence in the Territory of Washington, the parent corporation of the sisters' current ministries and one of the oldest existing corporations in the region.
1861-1867Sisters hold territorial contract for care of the mentally ill, establishing a separate hospital in Vancouver.
September 23, 1863Sisters extend their ministry beyond Vancouver, opening St. Joseph School in Steilacoom, then an "up and coming" town on Puget Sound.
February 18, 1864St. Vincent Academy founded in Walla Walla, taking the Providence ministry into the interior of the Washington Territory.
October 17, 1864Sister Mary of the Infant Jesus and three sisters travel to St. Ignatius, Montana, to teach the native children. From St. Ignatius, the Providence ministry expands throughout western Montana and northern Idaho.
August 11, 1868Providence of Our Lady of Seven Dolors School, on the Tulalip Reservation, is the sisters' first school for Native Americans in Washington.
April 19, 1873St. Patrick Hospital, Missoula, is opened -- now holds the distinction of being the sisters' oldest foundation in the west.
July 19, 1875St. Vincent Hospital, Portland, becomes the first permanent hospital in Oregon (now Providence St. Vincent Medical Center).
May 3, 1877The foundation for Providence Hospital, Seattle, is laid when three sisters arrive to open the King County Poor Farm.
January 27, 1880St. Mary Hospital, Walla Walla, opens.
August 5, 1884The sisters' ministries in the Northwest are officially placed under the patronage of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
April 30, 1886Mother Joseph establishes Sacred Heart Hospital, Spokane (now Sacred Heart Medical Center).
July 6, 1886St. Mary Hospital, New Westminster, BC, is the sisters' first hospital in western Canada.
June 18, 1887St. Peter Hospital, Olympia, is founded on what is now the campus of the Washington State Capitol.
March 29, 1891The Sisters of Providence establish seven administrative provinces, with three in the west: Sacred Heart Province, based in Vancouver; St. Ignatius Province, based in Missoula; and St. Vincent de Paul Province, based in Portland.
August 2, 1891St. Elizabeth Hospital -- now Providence Yakima Medical Center -- founded.
September 23, 1892Columbus Hospital -- now known as Benefis Healthcare -- opens in Great Falls, Montana.
April 17, 1893St. Ignatius Hospital -- now Whitman Community Hospital -- established in Colfax, Washington.
February 19, 1900The centennial of Mother Emilie Gamelin's birth is celebrated throughout Canada and the western United States.
September 12, 1900The Sisters of Providence Constitutions are approved by the Vatican, opening the way for new ministries in service to people in need.
January 19, 1902Mother Joseph, age 79, dies at Providence Academy, Vancouver.
May 24, 1902The sisters' ministry expands to California with the opening of Providence Hospital, Oakland (now part of Sutter Health System).
June 20, 1902The sisters' ministry is extended to Alaska with the opening of Holy Cross Hospital, Nome.
SummaryAlthough some of their early missions had closed, in 1902, the sisters operated 17 hospitals and 8 schools in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, California, and Alaska, with several additional missions in western Canada.
March 1, 1905Providence Hospital, Everett, Washington, opens.
December 2, 1910St. Thomas Home, an orphanage and boarding school, opens in Great Falls, Montana (services continue today through St. Thomas Child and Family Center).
May 27, 1911Sacred Heart Hospital -- now Providence Medford Medical Center -- opens in Medford, Oregon.
May 21, 1912St. Vincent de Paul Province is closed: its US institutions (hospitals in Oakland, Port Townsend, Portland, Medford, and Astoria) become part of Sacred Heart Province, while western Canadian institutions become part of the new Holy Angels Province, based in Vancouver, BC.
April 11, 1917Mother Mary of the Infant Jesus, foundress of the sisters' ministries in St. Ignatius Province, dies at St. Ignatius, Montana.
January 25, 1924The Provincial Administration of Sacred Heart Province moves from Vancouver to the new Mount St. Vincent complex in Seattle, which also houses St. Vincent's Home for the Elderly (now Providence Mount St. Vincent).
August 21, 1925St. Joseph Home for the Aged -- now St. Joseph Care Center-West -- opens in Spokane.
April 21, 1926Provincial Administration of St. Ignatius Province moves from Missoula to Sacred Heart Hospital, Spokane.
1927Centennial of Mother Gamelin's first home for the elderly in Montreal is joyfully celebrated in the sisters' new homes for the elderly in Seattle and Spokane.
1920s - 1950sSisters of Providence begin teaching at numerous Catholic parochial schools throughout the west, in addition to their own historic academies.
September 8, 1932College of Great Falls opens in Great Falls, Montana (now the University of Great Falls).
February 9, 1938Providence Hospital, Anchorage, founded (now Providence Alaska Medical Center).
February 25, 1941Providence Child Center, Portland, begins as the St. Agnes Baby Home.
June 24, 1941St. Peter Claver Interracial Center provides a gathering place and cultural programs for African-American and Asian-American families in Seattle.
September 8, 1941Providence Hospital joins St. Vincent Hospital in serving the people of Portland. This is the only time the sisters opened two hospitals in the same city.
September 12, 1942St. Joseph Hospital -- now Providence St. Joseph Medical Center -- opens in Burbank, California. This is the last hospital founded by the Sisters of Providence in the western United States.
1943Centennial of the Sisters of Providence religious community is celebrated throughout the west.
October 18, 1951Provincial Administration of St. Ignatius Province moves to Mount St. Joseph, Spokane, which also provides a home and infirmary for retired sisters.
August 1, 1955Providence High School founded in Burbank, California.
1956Centennial of the arrival of the Sisters of Providence in the west is marked by celebrations and publication of The Bell and the River, a biography of Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart.
SummaryAt the end of 1960, the sisters in Sacred Heart and St. Ignatius Provinces operated 22 hospitals, 9 of their own academies, 12 parish schools, 4 homes for the elderly, and 3 other care facilities.
June 14, 1961Provincial Administration of Sacred Heart Province moves to newly constructed Providence Heights College of Sister Formation, in Issaquah, Washington. The college offered liberal arts degrees to sisters from both St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Provinces and from many other religious communities.
1962-1965The Second Vatican Council calls for renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and leads to sweeping changes in religious life.
May 1, 1966Saint Joseph Residence, Seattle, opens as a retirement home and infirmary for sisters of Sacred Heart Province.
July 1966Sisters adopt modified habits in keeping with Vatican II reforms.
August 4, 1966Providence Academy, Vancouver, closes after 110 years of service.
September 1966Pioneering a new ministry, three sisters open St. Monica Parish Service Center, Coos Bay, Oregon, to train and assist lay people in religious education programs and parish development.
October 16, 1967St. Joseph Hospital, Vancouver, is transferred to a community group and continues today as Southwest Washington Medical Center.
June 30, 1968Unable to finance necessary renovation, the sisters transfer sponsorship of St. Joseph Hospital, Fairbanks, to a community group.
November 20, 1969William Connolly is hired as first lay administrator of a hospital (Providence Portland) in Sacred Heart Province.
June 1, 1969Providence Heights College of Sister Formation closes after only eight years.
April 13, 1970After ninety years of service, St. Mary Hospital, Astoria, Oregon, is sold.
1970sDue to declining numbers and a changing focus for their ministries, the sisters withdraw from their commitment to staff parochial schools. Individual sisters remain in education ministry, teaching in parish schools, CCD programs, or adult education.
June 1974The sisters' historic school in Missoula, Sacred Heart Academy, merges with Loyola High School to become Loyola Sacred Heart, under sponsorship of the Diocese of Helena.
December 31, 1974St. Clare Hospital, Fort Benton, Montana, is transferred to sponsorship of Choteau County.
SummaryAt the end of 1974, the sisters in St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Provinces sponsored 17 hospitals, 1 high school, 1 college, and several care centers for children or the elderly.
March 17, 1975Provincial Administration of Sacred Heart Province moves from Providence Heights to offices in downtown Seattle. The Corporate Office (now System Office) begins to develop as more lay people are hired to assist the sisters in administration of the hospitals.
April 1979St. Vincent Hospital, Portland, assumes management of Newberg Community Hospital, Newberg, Oregon, beginning a new era of growth through collaboration between Providence and local communities.
September 1, 1979Sisters open Providence Hospitality House, Seattle, to offer emergency shelter to women and children.
September 28, 1979Jack Brown becomes first lay person to serve as President of the Health Care Corporations in Sacred Heart Province.
May 1, 1980Mother Joseph becomes Washington State's second representative in National Statuary Hall, Washington, DC.
July 1, 1983Sacred Heart Province assumes sponsorship of Seaside General Hospital, Seaside, Oregon -- now Providence Seaside Hospital.
January 1, 1985The Good Health Plan of Oregon, the first HMO sponsored by the Sisters of Providence, lays the foundation for the current Providence Health Plans.
February 27, 1985The sisters' historic ministry of providing housing for seniors and people in need is renewed with the opening of Vincent House, Seattle, followed soon by Providence House, Yakima, and Emilie House in Portland.
December 1, 1985Central Memorial Hospital, Toppenish, Washington -- now Providence Toppenish Hospital -- becomes part of Providence.
December 31, 1985St. Ignatius Province assumes sponsorship of St. Brendan Nursing Home -- now St. Joseph Care Center-East, Spokane.
1986In collaboration with four other religious communities, the sisters of St. Ignatius Province open Miryam House, a home for single women in transition in Spokane.
December 28, 1987Providence and Cook Inlet Housing Development Corporation collaborate to open Mary Conrad Center, a home for seniors in Anchorage.
April 1, 1988Providence Centralia Hospital, Centralia, Washington, is formed from merger of St. Helen's Hospital, Chehalis --formerly operated by the Dominican Sisters -- and Centralia General Hospital.
July 1, 1986Dwyer Community Hospital, Milwaukie, Oregon -- now Providence Milwaukie Hospital -- becomes part of Providence.
August 1, 1989Sisters from the three western provinces establish a mission in the Philippines.
March 1, 1990St. Ignatius Province assumes sponsorship of St. Joseph Hospital, Polson, Montana, from Presentation Health System.
June 5, 1991Governance of the Sisters of Providence Health Care Corporations in Sacred Heart Province is reorganized, with establishment of a Board of Directors separate from the sisters' Provincial Council.
March 19, 1992Providence Services established as a holding company for the education, healthcare, and social service ministries of the Sisters of Providence in St. Ignatius Province.
August 4, 1993Providence Services assumes sponsorship of Dominican Network hospitals and care centers in eastern Washington.
December 1993Sisters of Providence Health System -- now Providence Health System -- adopted as the new name for the Health Care Corporations in Sacred Heart Province.
December 23, 1993Mother Emilie Gamelin is declared Venerable, the first step in the process towards canonization in the Catholic Church.
January 25, 1995Five Sisters of Providence open a mission in La Papalota, El Salvador.
1990s-2000sProvidence Health System and Providence Services continue to expand through new low-income housing facilities, long-term care centers, and primary care clinics.
May 1, 1996Providence assumes sponsorship of Holy Cross Medical Center, Mission Hills, and St. Elizabeth Care Center, Toluca Lake, California, from Holy Cross Health System.
April 16, 1999Washington legislature designates Mother Joseph's birthday as a non-observed holiday in Washington State.
September 1, 1999Little Company of Mary Health Services and Providence Health System become cosponsors of all Providence and Little Company facilities in Southern California.
January 1, 2000The sisters in St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Provinces come together to form the new Mother Joseph Province. The province sponsors both Providence Services and Providence Health System, as well as several other ministries and intercommunity programs.
February 19, 2000Bicentennial of Mother Emilie Gamelin's birth is celebrated by the Sisters of Providence and colleagues throughout the world.
June 30, 2000Strategic alliance transfers sponsorship of Providence Seattle Medical Center to Swedish Health Services.
September 23, 2001150th anniversary of the death of Mother Emilie Gamelin.
October 7, 2001Beatification of Mother Emilie Gamelin, foundress of the Sisters of Providence.
2002Alaska State legislature proclaims 2002 “Sisters of Providence Year”. The Sisters of Providence and Alaskans celebrate in Nome, site of the sisters’ first hospital.
January 19, 2002Mother Joseph Year commemorates the 100th anniversary of the her death
October 15, 2002Sister Kathryn Rutan, member of the Mother Joseph Province Leadership Team, becomes the second U.S. citizen to serve as Superior General of the Sisters of Providence.
August 15, 2003Providence Yakima Medical Center and Providence Toppenish Hospital are sold to Health Management Associates, Naples, Florida
2005Providence Everett Medical Center celebrates 100 years
September 15, 2005Formal exploration of integrated ministry begins between Providence Health System and Providence Services
December 8, 2006150th anniversary of the Sisters of Providence arrival in the Northwest.