REGINA — The sisters who contributed to the growth of Saskatchewan in education and health services were honoured Oct. 1 as the Sisters Legacy Monument was unveiled in Wascana Park. “They came here as pioneers well before Saskatchewan was created, started schools, provided health care, opened hospitals enduring hardships we can only imagine,” said a variety of speakers at the official unveiling.
The bronze monument features two life-size figures, one depicting a teacher ringing a school bell and the other a nurse appearing to offer care. Prince Albert sculptor Jack Jensen said while he was creating the work he was thinking about all what the sisters had done in those early years. “I’m really capturing a snapshot of something of a continuum here,” he said speaking with the PM at the unveiling. The monument is located south east of the Legislative Building on the east side of the park road.
The project began in 2011 when Catholic Health Association executive director Sandra Kary heard about a similar project underway in Alberta and decided something should be done in Saskatchewan. Paula Scott, chair of the Lloydminster Catholic School Division, became chair of the committee, Kary became project lead, a concept was discussed, Jensen was hired as the artist and fundraising began. The project budget was about $300,000, which paid for the monument and all other costs associated with bringing the project together. All funds were donated. No public money was involved.
The 180 sisters from various congregations plus several hundred others who attended the unveiling, the celebration mass which followed at Holy Rosary Cathedral and the evening banquet were more than pleased with the day, judging by the comments heard among the crowd.
Speakers included Regina Archbishop Daniel Bohan, Papal Nuncio Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi who blessed and dedicated the monument, Kary who emceed the event, and Sisters Anne Lewans, Ursulines of Prelate Superior of Saskatoon, and Jacquline St. Yves of Montreal, Superior of the Sisters of Charity of Montreal better known as the Grey Nuns, who spoke on behalf of the 5,500 sisters in 41 congregations who served in Saskatchewan.
Lewans expressed deepest gratitude to the Catholic Connections, a group of Catholic organizations who drove the project, the artist and all the volunteers involved. St. Yves said those involved represented all who had walked with them in the beginning “and now more and more accept the challenge of carrying on our legacy in the various areas of Catholic education, social services and health care.”
Lewans acknowledged all the people over the 155 years who welcomed religious women into their communities and parishes and supported them. “Our pioneering people shared their resources, their time and their talents to help us establish our homes and ministries among you.”
The unveiling ceremony ended with a choir of children from St. Gregory School singing piece composed by Deacon Bob Williston with lyrics by Sister Teresita Kambeitz, OSU Prelate.