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University of Providence celebrates 90 years

University of Providence celebrates 90 years
Posted at 12:45 PM, Oct 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-18 14:45:43-04

The University of Providence in Great Falls is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. On Monday, October 17, 2022, the school hosted a Founders Day celebration.

“When the sisters are called to carry out a ministry like we were called to this area, it meant that the sisters of Providence would bring along our charism and our mission. And the mission is direct service to the most poor and needy. And so that's the mission we've carried out for all these years,” shared Sister Barbara Schamber, Provincial Leader of the sisters of Mother Joseph Province, Sisters of Providence.

Sister Schamber was one of the seven sisters who attended the 90th Jubilee mass for the University of Providence. The sister’s ministry is one that keeps on giving.

“We called forth not only the sisters, but laypeople who are sponsors of this ministry. So, there are ten, both sisters and laypeople who are committed that this ministry will continue. So, it's not just the sisters anymore.”

The jubilee was celebrated with a service the coadjutor Jeffrey Fleming, DD, a bishop in the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, performed the homily, in that, he touched on why they gathered on Monday.

“This mission was bravely and courageously heard and accepted by Bishop Edwin O'Hara. The Sisters of Providence…The Ursuline sisters. This together they began to patch together the pieces and the things. This and that. To begin a school here on the banks of the Great Falls of the Missouri.”

The service also included a Dedication of a Reliquary of Blessed Emilie Gamelin, the founder of the sisters of Providence said by The Most Reverend Michael Warfel, DD, “…may obtain pardon of their sins and protection from every adversity. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

Blessed Emilie Gamelin was venerated as a saint in 2001 by Pope John Paul II after fulfilling the steps to beatification. Gamelin died in 1851 of cholera during an epidemic that year. Gamelin’s last words were “Humility, simplicity, charity…above all charity."

University of Providence celebrates 90 years
University of Providence celebrates 90 years

The modern-day sisters represent the foundations set in place by Blessed Mother Gamelin.

"I think every one of these sisters represents one of the ministries of Providence, education, health care, social works, housing, anything the sisters were called by the local bishops to carry out. We responded with great joy, and sometimes there was not only joy, but sometimes there

were real difficulties, especially, you know, we think of our early sisters in Saint Ignatius, Montana. They couldn't even get a frying pan for one year. And yet they were there, and they committed themselves to teach the young girls and the young boys the education that they needed,” said Sister Barbara.

The afternoon was graced with several alumni, including Kennard Kapstafer, who has family ties dating back to 1932 at the institution. He reminisced on the good times, how much the school changed, and how much he learned in his time at Providence. Kapstafer is a retired medical professional and shared that many in his graduating class went on to work in medicine.

“…it's very it's very close to our heart.” Kapstafer said about the university.

Great Falls City Commissioner, Eric Hinebauch, is an alumnus from the Class of 2011 and former student-athlete.

“I'm thankful for the sisters of Providence and the sponsors and in the structure, they have set up and how they've kept the mission important. I mean, they’ve run one of the largest health care organizations in the nation, and this is part of that organization… this is the part of the vision of that organization. I think that’s great to see that they’re invested in it and they want to see this succeed.”