Jun 9, 2014

Three Sisters of Providence mark special anniversaries of religious life



(Photos courtesy of Sisters of Providence)

Staff report

HOLYOKE—The Sisters of Providence observed the milestone anniversaries of three of their members with a Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, June 8.

The liturgy was celebrated in Our Mother of Sorrows Chapel at Providence Place, here.

Sisters Caroline Smith and Mary Horgan marked their diamond jubilees – 60 years as Sisters of Providence. Sister Mary of Providence Dion is celebrating her 70th year as a Sister of Providence. Together, their service totals 190 years.

Sister Smith (left in above photo), formerly Sister Marie Immaculate Heart, is the daughter of the late Robert and Ruth (Sandman) Smith of Monson.

Sister Smith’s contributions over the past 60 years are considerable. A registered nurse whose health care ministry began in 1956 as a medical surgical supervisor at Providence Hospital on Dwight Street, Holyoke, she later served as administrator of Mercy Medical Center, Springfield, and as assistant administrator at the new Providence Hospital on Main Street, Holyoke.

While at Providence Hospital (1967-1975), she founded Providence Hospital’s Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program and became the program’s first director.

Following her 1978 graduation from a clinical education program at Worcester State Hospital, she ministered at Berkshire Day Health Center, Sandisfield, Mass.

In addition, she was director of the pastoral care departments at Providence Hospital (1980-1981) and Providence Mother House Infirmary (1981-1983), both in Holyoke. She also ministered as a pastoral counselor at Mount Saint Vincent Care Center, Holyoke (1984-1988).

Sister Smith also served through the Holyoke Visiting Nurses Association as a pastoral care and grief and bereavement counselor, and as program coordinator for the VNA’s hospice volunteers. She was director of volunteers at Mercy Hospital (1994-2002) and following her retirement from that post, volunteered in the Sister Mary Caritas Cancer Center for a number of years.

Sister Smith served for 12 years as a councilor on the Sisters of Providence Executive Council. Her first two, consecutive, four-year terms were from 1993 through 2001. In 2005 she was again elected to the SP Council for a four-year term and was named SP vice president. Earlier, she co-chaired the congregation’s Centennial Anniversary Committee in 1992 and served as co-director of the Providence Associate Program (1993-2002).

A graduate of Palmer High School, Sister Smith earned a nursing diploma from Mercy Hospital School of Nursing.She also holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Boston College, and a master’s degree in hospital administration from St. Louis University, Missouri.

She was enrolled in the Active Spirituality for the Global Community program at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio, and studied clinical pastoral education at Worcester State Hospital.

Sister Smith was the recipient of the Outstanding Psychiatric Nurse Award from Boston State Hospital in 1978.

Sister Horgan, formerly known as Sister Marie Visitation, is the daughter of the late Joseph and Mary (O’Leary) Horgan of Worcester, Mass. Her sister, Ann, is also a Sister of Providence.

Following her religious profession in 1956, she cared for toddlers at the former Our Lady of Providence Children’s Center, West Springfield.

A registered nurse, she worked in the congregation’s infirmary at Providence Mother House, Holyoke (1961-1962), and Mercy Medical Center, Springfield (1963-1965) before serving on the nursing faculty of Providence Hospital School of Nursing in Holyoke in 1967 and as an associate professor in nursing at Holyoke Community College (1970-1973).   

She was a councilor on the Sisters of Providence Executive Council for 16 years, first from 1973 to 1981, and again from 1997 to 2005. During her four, four-year terms on the council, she also served as the congregation’s assistant director from 1973-1977, and again filled that position as SP vice president from 2001-2005.

Her resume includes time as associate chaplain at Mercy Medical Center (1973-1977) and 12 years (1989-2001) as chaplain at Mount Saint Vincent Care Center, Holyoke. She was director of mission and philosophy for the Sisters of Providence Health System (1984-1989).

For the past eight years, she served as a spiritual and retreat director at Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center. She has been the co-director of the Providence Associate Program since 2002.

Sister Horgan (right in above photo) graduated from St. Stephen High School, Worcester, and earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Boston College, and a master’s degree in nursing education from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She holds a master of divinity degree from Andover-Newton Theological School, Newton, and completed several quarters of clinical pastoral education.

She earned certification as a spiritual director from the Spiritual Life Center at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Conn.

She has served on diocesan committees in the Springfield Diocese and held membership in the American Nurses Association, the National League of Nursing and the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.

Sister Horgan was a board member of the Spiritual Direction Center, Springfield, and a diocesan observer for the ecumenical and interfaith division of the Greater Springfield Council of Churches. She also chaired the Region I Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and was on the boards of Providence Ministries for the Needy, Holyoke, and St. Joseph of the Pines Health System, Southern Pines, N.C.

An advocate for peace, Sister Horgan is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph Justice and Peace Committee and was on former Holyoke Mayor Michael Sullivan’s Peace Initiative Committee. She was instrumental in having peace poles placed at Providence Place, Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center, and throughout the Sisters of Providence Health System.

The congregation will celebrate an event in Sister Dion’s honor on July 16 at Mary’s Meadow, Holyoke. Sister Dion, formerly Beatrice Dion, is the daughter of the late Ferdinand and Cora (Birtz) Dion of Worcester and entered the community as a registered nurse in 1944.

Sister Dion (pictured at right) has a rich history in the health care field that ranges from nursing to anesthesiology and inhalation therapy to geriatric care. Following her profession, she first ministered as a nurse at Providence Hospital, Holyoke, in 1946, and then as head nurse at Mercy Hospital, Springfield (1947-1951).

Educated and skilled as an anesthetist, she served in that role at Providence Hospital, Farren Memorial Hospital, Turners Falls, and St. Vincent Hospital, Worcester (1954-1959). She supervised the anesthesia department at St. Vincent Hospital (1961-1970), directed St. Vincent Hospital’s School of Anesthesiology (1962-1973), and from 1966 to 1972 was director of the Hospital’s School of Inhalation Therapy.

She served as the congregation’s retirement coordinator for three years prior to her appointment in 1981 as administrator of Beaven Kelly Home, Holyoke, and St. Luke’s Home, Springfield. She served in those dual capacities until 1989.

In addition, she was the co-director of the Providence Associate Program (1990-1992).

Sister Dion is a graduate of the High School of Commerce, Worcester, St. Vincent Hospital School of Nursing, Mercy Hospital School of Anesthesiology and Boston College School of Nursing. In 1981 she completed an internship in nursing home administration at Stella Maris Hospice, Towson, Md.

She held membership in the American Registry of Inhalation Therapists, serving on its board of directors, in the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists and in the Massachusetts Association of Nurse Anesthetists, serving on its board of trustees. She was both vice president and president of the Greater New England Society of Inhalation Therapy in 1967and 1968-1970, respectively.

A member of Boston College’s School of Nursing Alumnae Association and of the Worcester Diocesan Council of Catholic Nurses, she also was a member of the Board of Trustees of Mount St. Vincent Care Center, Holyoke, and the Board of Mercyknoll, West Hartford, Conn.

Following her 1989 retirement, Sister Dion attended a three-month sabbatical at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem, where she participated in the Institute’s pastoral studies and spiritual renewal program.