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History and Memory: Then and Now, Always in Mission

Cosmos sculptureThis story about one of the convents built by the Sisters of the Holy Names is unique. But at the core of the story is a theme that repeats over and over in the SNJM community – change comes, but the Sisters’ mission remains.

For more than a century, Holy Names Sisters have been ministering in Spokane, Washington. It’s been about four months since they publicly shared preliminary plans for new ownership for their beloved Convent of the Holy Names Spokane property, built in 1967. In addition to being the Spokane Sisters’ home, it was a hub for a myriad of ministries, celebrations, worship and the arts. During the past few years, the Sisters have transitioned to other locations that meet their long-term housing and health care needs.

“What’s really important is to see that the Sisters of the Holy Names' mission always goes on,” says Sister Celine Steinberger. “Our properties may change ownership, but they remain in service to the people who have the greatest needs.”

The property has been in the local news frequently since the public learned Catholic Charities of Spokane and its housing partners would acquire some of the 67-acre site to build affordable housing for Spokane residents who are homeless or struggling to pay for shelter. In addition, the Sisters propose to permanently preserve a large section of the land, including the Spokane River frontage, through a partnership with the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program.

“We’re very excited about having been selected by the Sisters,” said Rob McCann, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Spokane. “In our opinion, this property is indeed a sacred space and we take very seriously our obligation to care for it and use it in a way that continues the incredible history of the Sisters reaching out to those in need. We look forward to our continued partnership and service to the fragile and the poor in Spokane as we move forward with our plans for social services and senior and family housing on this great property.”

For Catholic Charities, it’s part of a goal to make sure every person in the Spokane area who lacks housing has access to a safe and affordable home. For the SNJM community, it’s part of the story about how, with God’s help, the commitment and work they began continues into the future.

In the photo: “The Cosmos,” a sculpture by Paula Turnbull, SNJM, which hangs in the Spokane convent’s chapel.