History of Mother Joseph Province
The Sisters of Providence religious community was founded in 1843 by Emilie Tavernier Gamelin, in Montreal, Quebec. In 1856, at the request of Bishop A.M.A. Blanchet, five sisters traveled to Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory, to serve the French-Canadian settlers and Native Americans. Within fifty years, the sisters had expanded their ministry to towns throughout Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, British Columbia, Alaska, and California, opening many of the region's first hospitals, boarding schools and academies, orphanages, and homes for the elderly and disabled.
In 1891, the Sisters of Providence community was divided into administrative entities known as provinces. The institutions in the American and Canadian west were assigned to one of three provinces: Sacred Heart, St. Ignatius, and St. Vincent de Paul. In time, Sacred Heart Province came to encompass the sisters' ministries in western Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska. St. Ignatius Province included the institutions in eastern Washington, Idaho, and Montana. St. Vincent de Paul Province, later renamed Holy Angels Province, comprised institutions in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and the Yukon.
On January 1, 2000, after several years of study and discernment, the sisters of St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Provinces joined together to create the new Mother Joseph Province. The province is named after Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart, who led the sisters to the west in 1856.
In addition to sponsoring Providence Health System and Providence Services, and co-sponsoring several intercommunity ministries, the sisters of Mother Joseph Province engage in individual ministries of health care, education, social service, and prayer. Currently they serve in Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, California, El Salvador, and Haiti.
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