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418 • Part III. Christian Morality: The Faith Lived

established Providence Academy, the first permanent school in the

Northwest, and opened the four-bed St. Joseph Hospital, the Northwest’s

first permanent hospital.

Building hospitals and schools took money, and Mother Joseph

proved to be an excellent fundraiser. She traveled for months through the

mining camps begging for funds, often returning home with as much as

five thousand dollars in cash. Fundraising was hard enough, but more so

for Mother Joseph, who had to deal with harsh weather and fending off

wolves and bandits.

When all of Mother Joseph’s works are added up, they encompass

the building of hospitals, orphanages, schools, homes for the aged, and

shelters for the mentally ill in the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho,

and Montana.

The Seventh Commandment not only deals with matters of property

and stealing, but also with issues of social justice and human dignity. The

life of Mother Joseph illustrates this Commandment because it was one

of dedication to the basic rights of individuals, economically and socially.

She treated all people with dignity, justice, and mercy, opening all of her

institutions to anyone who needed them. Mother Joseph died of cancer

in 1902 in Vancouver, Washington.

In 1980, the United States Senate accepted a statue of her, a gift

from the state of Washington, for inclusion in the national Statuary Hall

Collection. The inscription on the statue reads: “She made monumen-

tal contributions to health care, education and social work throughout

the Northwest.” Today her legacy lives on in the mission of the Sisters of

Providence, who are headquartered in Seattle, Washington.

Her dying words to the members of her religious community

were, “Sisters, whatever concerns the poor is always our concern.”


Her example helps us to understand better how to live out the Seventh


16 Quoted in Eugene F. Hemrick,

One Nation Under God

(Huntington, IN: Our Sunday

Visitor, 2001), 72-74.