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,
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.