In 1856, five Sisters of Providence journeyed by sea from Montreal, Quebec, to Vancouver, Washington. These Sisters, only two of whom spoke English, came to the Northwest to serve and to give their time and hearts to the poor and vulnerable. The Sisters and others who joined their cause later established schools, hospitals, homes for the aged and infirmed, and orphanages throughout the Northwest. Today, under Providence Health and Services close to 100,000 people work at ministries established by the Sisters and their successors. They are responding to the same call as did the Sisters.
Dedicated on April 29, 2011, Providence Plaza is a tribute to the charity and courage of the Sisters of Providence and a call for others to follow.
- The five waterfalls represent the five Sisters who embarked on the 1856 journey: Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart (Pariseau); Praxedes of Providence, Mary of the Precious Blood, Vincent de Paul, and Blandine of the Holy Angels.
- The prayer “Providence of God, I believe in you,” often sung by the Sisters, celebrates Providence and says, “the loving presence of God, watchful over the created universe, attentive to the needs of all, working in us and through us.”
- The terrazzo centerpiece depicts the Sisters crossing the mountains, traveling eastward from Vancouver, Washington. Four Sisters came to Montana in 1864 and established a school in St. Ignatius, a small town in the Northwestern part of the state. These Sisters were Mary of the Infant Jesus, Mary Edward, Remi, and Paul Miki.
- The sculpture of the Sister of Providence, “Learning with Love,” symbolizes the importance the Sisters placed on education. The first ministry established by the Sisters was Providence Academy in Vancouver, Washington. The sculpture was created by the late Joe Halko, a graduate of the University of Providence, and student and friend of Sister Mary Trinitas Morin, a longtime art professor at the University. Trinitas Chapel is dedicated to the memory of Sister Mary Trinitas.
- The stained glass window, which is not yet completed, depicts St. Vincent de Paul, the inspiration to the Sisters, and the words that they lived by, “the charity of Christ impels us” (2 Cor. 5:14).
We thank the friends and admirers of the Sisters of Providence and the University of Providence whose generosity created this important place: Mary ‘44 and Harold Floyd, Sally A. McGregor ‘50, the O’Day family, and Madalen Sugrue ’54.