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60 Years: Scholastica Lee, SP

(Sister Scholastica Mary)

For Sister Scholastica Lee, it is always about the people.  Whether standing in front of a classroom of bright-eyed young learners, or giving spiritual support to an ailing hospital patient, the people are paramount.  It is the personal connections to individuals that have made her life special.

Sr. Scholastica LeeShe was born in Eden, County Roscommon, Ireland, on February 9, 1921, the day before the Feast of St. Scholastica, which explains how she came to be Margaret Scholastica Lee. She and her brother Tom were among the young people who crossed the ocean in the early 1940s in search of work. Four sisters and an aunt welcomed them to the Pacific Northwest.

Sister Scholastica’s first job was as assistant to Sister Tekawitha in the pharmacy at the then Sacred Hospital in Spokane, and she would replace the other pharmacist, Sister Pius Augustine, when needed. Seeing how short-staffed the sisters were, she decided to help and entered the religious community at the age of 29, making first vows in 1952.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in education at the then College of Great Falls and a master’s degree in religious education at Fort Wright College of the Holy Names in Spokane. Her first ministry was teaching third grade at St. Patrick School in Walla Walla, Wash. Sister Scholastica also taught at Providence Academy and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Vancouver, Wash.; St. Catherine School, Seattle; Holy Rosary School, Moxee, Wash.; St. Joseph Grade School, Yakima, Wash.; and Immaculate Conception School, Fairbanks, Alaska.

Teaching, chaplaincy and pastoral care her ministries

In 1972 she switched to parish work in religious education and found its nature challenging. Now she was working with children, parents and other adults, often in the evening hours, motivating and coordinating as well as training. She served at St. Monica Parish Center in Coos Bay, Ore., and then at Holy Names Parish in Coquille, Ore., followed by St. Michael Parish in Snohomish, Wash. Later she returned to St. Joseph Grade School in Yakima to coordinate religious education and teach.

Though teaching was her first ministry, she found great fulfillment in her 17-year role as hospital chaplain at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Ore. “This is an important ministry,” she explained. “In a hospital, one experiences Christ as the Healer at work everywhere.”

Pastoral care, the last of her ministries, was a very rich and meaningful experience. It manifested more of her gifts, especially working with people, since she is a people person. She had a great ability to relax everyone with her great sense of Irish humor, usually through a punch line and right on. She retired in 2000.

A highlight of her golden Jubilee in 2001 was the pilgrimage to Rome for the beatification of Blessed Emilie Gamelin. This Jubilee is a time for prayer, reflection and visits from friends. Sister Scholastica is grateful to God for all that has been.

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“This is an important ministry,” she said of her chaplaincy.

“In a hospital, one experiences Christ as the Healer at work everywhere.”

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