When 5,500 Catholic Sisters help contribute to a province’s social foundation and well-being, it doesn’t go unnoticed.
Last fall, the Catholic Sisters across Saskatchewan were honoured for their 155-year-long dedicated service to communities across Saskatchewan, including Catholic schools.
Following a three-year timeframe of meeting, planning and fundraising, the Sisters Legacy Monument was revealed Oct. 1, 2015 in Regina’s Wascana Park near the Provincial Legislature. The monument, titled “Called to Serve”, commemorates pioneering religious women who established hospitals and schools in Saskatchewan starting in 1860, laying the foundation for modern-day education and health care institutions across the province. The monument features two Catholic Sisters cast in bronze, one representing a teacher, the other a nurse.
Saskatchewan Catholic Connections is the organization behind the project and Prince Albert sculptor Jack Jensen was commissioned to create the work. SCC’s Executive Director Sandra Kary brought project idea forward, and a committee was then formed to plan out the project and bring it to life. It was then made possible thanks to the support of private donors, dioceses, men’s religious communities and leading Catholic organizations across Saskatchewan.
More than 500 guests attended the monument’s blessing and unveiling last October, including the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan, officials from Catholic health and education, and 180 Catholic Sisters from Saskatchewan and across Canada representing the founding religious orders.
One of those sisters was Sr. Teresita Kambeitz, OSU. She wrote about the unveiling’s day and captured the spirit, energy and excitement about the project and what it means to the Sisters from across the province.
Here’s a snippet from her piece:
“A hush fell upon the high-spirited crowd of some 400 people as Sandra Kary, master of ceremonies and project lead, stepped forward to welcome everyone and to introduce the speakers. Deputy Premier Don McMorris spoke on behalf of Premier Brad Wall and the people of Saskatchewan in thanking the Sisters for their service since 1860 in 45 hospitals, 300 schools and other care facilities; Archbishop Dan Bohan spoke on behalf of the Bishops of Saskatchewan in expressing appreciation for the dedication of the Sisters in their ministry among the children, the sick and the needy.
Then came “the moment” for which everyone had been waiting – the unveiling of the monument. Lead donors, David and Karen Holst, with other dignitaries gently tugged the canvas, and down it came, evoking a profound gasp of surprise and awe, followed by hearty applause. Two larger-than-life bronze statues were revealed: a Sister-teacher with raised eyes and a gentle smile as she rang a school bell with one hand and held a school register and bible in the other and a Sister-nurse with a blanket over one arm and the other outstretched in compassion as she bent kindly toward an invisible patient. Behind them stood an outline of a Gothic window featuring a circle with rays leading from it to symbolize the outreach of the communities of Sisters in service to those in need. A bronze plaque below the statues listed the names of the 61 congregations that have served or are serving in the province, along with the year that each came to Saskatchewan. Two other plaques listed the donors and the members of the Saskatchewan Catholic Connections Committee made up of heads of provincial Catholic organizations and representatives of the dioceses.”
The Sisters’ roles in Saskatchewan are outlined in a video produced by Saskatchewan Catholic Connections. The video highlights how the sisters came to the province and what they did when they arrived:
Sr. Teresita summed up the unveiling day well:
“Dedication, service, and love were words often heard throughout the festivities that took place in Regina on Oct. 1, 2015 to honor the legacy of over 5,500 Sisters in building the foundations of education, health care and social services in Saskatchewan,” she wrote. “As I reflect back on Oct. 1st, I experience again the profound peace and serene joy I felt all day long as I participated in this four-movement symphony of festive events. There was for me something mystical about actually experiencing the “real-ness” of something that for the past three years had been only imagined and visualized. The concept that launched our committee over three years ago was now unfolding before my eyes. It was real. And my feelings of awe were beyond words. Perhaps that’s how our creator God feels every time a divine concept becomes a reality?”
To learn more about the project, visit the website, calledtoserve.ca