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Dominican and Providence Sisters gather in front of the Holy Family Hospital Heritage Wall to celebrate the rich history of the Dominican Sisters in Spokane and Eastern Washington.

Dominican Heritage Wall Dedication

Providence Holy Family Hospital in Spokane, WA celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2014.

Profound Simplicity

By Rebecca Nappi, Director of Mission Integration

July 23, 2014, Spokane, WA—The Dominican Sisters requested that the dedication of their Heritage Display Art Wall be kept simple. No expensive invitations sent out. No long, flowery speeches. No formal program handed out.

Three long-timers: Cathy Simchuk, Don McCracken and Sister Maureen Healy have served at Holy Family through decades of change and growth. And their wishes were followed. Last Wednesday, the Sisters gathered in the South lobby of Providence Holy Family Hospital, along with Providence Sisters, caregivers, leaders and providers. They honored the story of the Dominicans who built Holy Family Hospital 50 years ago on a tight budget, hard work and radical faith.

The heritage wall, designed by Spokane artist CK Anderson, is a stunner. It traces the Dominicans’ history from 1925, when the Sisters first came West from Germany, to the present day.

Though the crowd was large, you could hear a pin drop during remarks by Providence leaders, and during the powerful artist blessing by Fr. Uche, Holy Family priest and chaplain.

Sisters Judith Nilles and Maureen Healy read the names of every Sister who has served at Holy Family Hospital in the last 50 years.
Sisters Judith Nilles and Maureen Healy read the names of every Sister who has served at Holy Family Hospital in the last 50 years.

But it was the simple – yet incredibly profound – words spoken by Sister Maureen Healy (pictured, right) that captured people’s hearts. She’s a nurse who has worked at Holy Family for 50 years. Another poignant scene? Father Stan Malnar’s idea to honor the Sisters by having the names of all the sisters who ever worked at Holy Family read aloud, while white roses were placed in a cross.

Here are short excerpts from Sister Maureen’s and Father Stan’s dedication reflections.

Sister Maureen Healy

“In the beginning, the ‘strategic plan’ was not a financial or business model. It was the desire to extend the love and compassion of Jesus to those who most need it. In the beginning, with our strong German background, ‘hard work’ (not ‘productivity’) was our greatest passion. In the beginning, there were no ‘competency reviews.’ If you were a Dominican Sister, you were expected to be proficient enough to take on any assigned task. In the beginning, ‘Epic’ was the size of our debt, and, at times, the impossibility of even making payroll. In the beginning, the ‘bottom line’ was Providence itself. It is important to say that our legacy was enriched 20 years ago when we gave our hospitals away to the care of the Providence Sisters. Two different cultures. One very united purpose.”

Father Stan Malnar, MD

“Places anchor us in time. They carry our hopes and dreams and narrate our histories. The history of Holy Family is held in the heart of the Dominican Sisters. If Holy Family could speak, it would narrate their history going back to Speyer and it would tell us that it was built, not just of brick and steel, but on foundation of the Gospel: ‘What so ever you do for the least of my sisters and brothers you do for me.’ Then it would remind us of the generosity of the Sisters. How they gave their lives away for this ministry. Then it would whisper a secret about them: ‘Do you know they believe they can see the face of Jesus in the people that come here. And they believe that in caring for them, they touch and heal his wounds. Can you believe that?’ That is the question asked of us. ‘Do we believe we can see the face of Jesus in the people we serve? Do we believe that in caring for them, we touch his wounds?’”