Sept. 22, 2014 8:46 a.m. - Updated: Sept. 27, 8:54 a.m.
Providence Health & Services celebrates its humble beginnings this week, honoring the foundress of Providence, Blessed Emilie Gamelin. She died on September 23, 1851.
Emilie married a man who was decades older than she was; they had three sons. The happy couple shared a vision of caring for Montreal’s poor. But soon Emilie was alone – losing her sons and husband to disease. Somehow she continued to find hope and care for the people of Montreal. But the Sisters of Providence and their care and compassion were needed far beyond Montreal. Soon women were summoned to the Pacific Northwest.
In December 1856, five brave women, including pioneer Mother Joseph, arrived at Fort Vancouver, Washington. They immediately began caring for the poor and vulnerable: Native Americans, orphans, injured loggers, abandoned women – all those who presented themselves with urgent medical and social needs.
Today Providence serves people in Washington, Alaska, California, Oregon, Montana, including the Spokane community. Its Mission: “…(to) reveal God’s love for all, especially the poor and vulnerable…” responds to contemporary challenges – medical, social, spiritual needs – with a commitment inspired by Blessed Emilie Gamelin and Mother Joseph. And that remarkable legacy deserves a celebration.
(S-R archive photo: Sister Rosalie Locati, director of mission and values for Providence Sacred Heart and Providence Holy Family hospitals, stands beside Ken Spiering’s sculpture in Riverfront Park. It commemorates the arrival of the Sisters of Providence, who built Sacred Heart on the banks of the Spokane River in 1886. Locati is the only Sister of Providence still working full time at Sacred Heart Medical Center.)
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