Providence celebrates 160 years: Share your story

Only a small percent of all organizations in this country have made it past 100 years old. Rarer still are longstanding organizations founded by women.

It’s amazing to think that Providence St. Joseph Health is a combination of two not-for-profit health systems founded by women well over a century ago. St. Joseph Health began in the American West in 1912 when the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange journeyed to Eureka, Calif., to open a school and later a hospital.

And next week, Providence Health & Services will celebrate its 160th year of serving the Western U.S.

A milestone anniversary

Dec. 8, 1856 was the day the Sisters of Providence arrived in Vancouver, in what was then the Washington Territory, where they established orphanages, schools and hospitals. Later, these courageous women of faith extended the Mission to communities in Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon and other parts of Washington.

To learn more about the heritage of Providence and the story of the Sisters of Providence, visit our special anniversary page on the Providence intranet (you must be logged in to the Providence network). You can also check out the history section of the Providence website.

We are blessed to have many diverse organizations in our family, including Covenant in Texas; Hoag and Facey in Southern California; and Kadlec, PacMed and Swedish in Washington, each with their own rich histories and traditions. As we come together as Providence St. Joseph Health, we’ll continue to celebrate all our unique heritages and keep the spirit of our founders alive.

What inspires you about our heritage?

Help us celebrate Providence’s 160th anniversary by sharing your stories about our collective Missions. What motivates you about the work you do, the people you work with and the individuals you serve? Hear how our sponsors responded to that question in this brief video, in which they share their hopes and aspirations for our future and the tremendous gratitude they have for our caregivers who serve those in need every day.

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments section below. Your stories are always inspiring and a vibrant part of our heritage. Thank you for taking time to share and for all you do to keep the compassionate and courageous spirit of our founders alive and well.



  1. Every time I walk by the black and white grainy photo of those 5 BRAVE Nuns, I wink at them. Because two of those women were my Great Great Aunts!!

    Mother Gaudentia and Sister Rosalee were biological sisters and were my Grandfathers, Herman Schwab, Paternal Aunts. In the 1850’s they were stationed in Montana and the order of Nuns that they belonged to were primarily teachers. The Mother Prioress said “People are heading west to settle the new territory and they are getting sick with nobody to take care of them. Go out and start a hospital”. The nuns respectfully said “But we are teachers, not nurses”. Her response “Go where God is calling and He will guide you”!! Yep, Brave!!

    Their mission, is MY mission.
    Their hands, are MY hands.

    So give them a wink for me next time you walk by their picture!!
    Here’s to another 160 years!!

  2. I heard the calling 01/08/2014 and it has been an amazing journey being a part of such a caring organization that does not make you feel as another big organization employee. I feel welcomed, loved and respected. Our Mission, Vision and Values have taught me that we can use and practice all 3 at work and outside of work. We can help people with our smile, with our compassion and showing them the way in becoming healthier and happier. I have been a big advocate of helping people become well and those who are I have been there to cheer them for as long as I can remember. Providence has introduced me to their missionary program and I have been called to serve the poor and vulnerable in México and Guatemala. This opportunities have helped me realize how fortunate I am to be able to share and care for all people. Wearing our providence shirts as we travel to our destinations gave me the opportunity to be approached by people that wanted to say thank you, they have offered their blessings, their love and also hugs. This experiences have confirmed on how Providence has made an impact around the world and I am so proud to be a part of this very beautiful impact.

  3. I am so proud to work for Providence, because every day I know that I am helping others and making a difference. It is also wonderful to be able to tell people that we don’t turn anyone away who needs our care. As a clinical liaison, I have set up hospice and home health for the poor, the undocumented, and the homeless. I also so appreciate my great team in business development, hospice and home health, because we support each other and work together. I heard a news story once about how many people unfortunately feel a lack of meaning and purpose in their work. I can honestly say I never, not for one day, feel that way.

  4. In the spirit of continuing the great mission of the Sisters of Providence, the Providence Travel Team committed support to the Union Gospel Mission Hope Place Shelter. Through our fund raising initiative of baking and selling homemade dog treats, we raised almost $700! These funds will be used to purchase toys for the Christmas Central project which is expected to serve over 400 families this year. We also invited our SCM teammates to participate by donating new, unwrapped toys for the cause. Our invitation was met with enthusiasm and we were able to collect several hundred toys in addition to those purchased with the funds raised by Travel. I am thankful every day for this team as they continue to live our mission and core values.

  5. I am so privileged to be respnsible to keep the story of Providence alive. Each year I read documents from every corner of our ministry, see how the spirit lives in every care facility, housing, nursing, hospital, and even central offices. Because the sisters kept chronicles so long ago we know the stories. Because we keep them now, future generations need never forget!.

  6. Happy 160th Anniversay!I am proud to be a part of an organization that is as passionate as I am about helping others. I am motivated by knowing that myself and my family make a difference. I am inspired by being surrounded by others at Providence that like and want to help, not only because they should, but because it is something that they are also passionate about.
    I am looking forward to the years to come.