Their story is our story.
Finding joy amid poverty
“When I came a lot of people paid their bill with a half of beef or two dozen eggs or whatever,” said Sister Catherine Hellmann.
“I remember one time when I was working in surgery and it was about 11 o’clock at night before we got finished, and I was ready to go to bed. I thought, well, I’m going to run down to the kitchen and get me a doughnut or something to eat. I went down and here they had several crates of chickens which someone brought. The (sisters) were de-feathering the chickens and they said ‘come help us.’ So, we did that until about 2 o’clock in the morning.” Hellmann said.
Between their duties, there was little time for much else. But that didn’t stop the energetic sisters from having fun once in a while. One time, Hellmann and Sister Ruth Harber, another nurse, decided to test the emergency fire escape slide in the old brick hospital. Wearing their habits, they sat on bedpans and slid down the ice-covered chute.
She and the other sisters would ride bicycles and even climb mountains in their habits. Hellmann said they pinned up their skirts and wore a pair of borrowed trousers when they went climbing, something that shocked folks at the Mother House back in Indiana. Those hikes forged a bond between Hellmann and the Cascade Mountains that would help shape her decisions for herself and the hospital later.