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Bricks, river rocks sold for Sister Catherine healing garden


To honor the Sisters of St. Joseph of Tipton, Ind. and Sister Catherine Hellmann – who served as the Bend hospital’s chief executive for 20 years and president emeritus for 10 additional years – a healing garden will be built in their names as part of the new, integrated St. Charles Cancer Center.

The garden will provide a tranquil place for patients, families and caregivers to spend quiet time reflecting and resting. Community members can purchase engraved bricks and river rocks dedicated to individuals, families or businesses that will line the path through the garden.

Proceeds from the bricks and river rocks will go toward St. Charles Foundation’s $5.7 million capital campaign for the integrated cancer center project. The cancer center and healing garden will be complete this summer.

Many Central Oregonians may no longer know the story of how the first St. Charles hospital in Bend came to be.

A group of nuns from Tipton, Ind., boarded a train on Christmas Day in 1917 heading west to the tiny logging town. A priest had contacted them explaining the need for health care, so they gave up everything they knew to start Bend’s first hospital in a house on the banks of the Deschutes River. Their mission was simply to care for all.

“Sister Catherine used to tell us about the first sisters that came out here,” said Rick Martin, vice president of construction and real estate for St. Charles, who has worked for the health system for 35 years. “It was expensive to get here and the convent would probably never be able to bring them back. This would be their life-long choice.”

From the moment they made that decision, the Sisters of St. Joseph were dedicated to providing and expanding health care in Central Oregon. Their work provided the foundation for the network of hospitals and clinics that makes up St. Charles Health System today. Martin said he hopes that those who remember the sisters – who continue to serve people in need throughout the United States and across the globe – will consider purchasing a brick to support the project as a tribute to their legacy.

“Sister Catherine and the sisters believed in great science and medicine, but they also believed in our faith in God’s presence to heal,” Martin said. “I think it’s the perfect match for that.”

The following options are available for purchase as part of the healing garden:

4×8 brick for $250
4×8 brick with select artwork for $500
8×8 brick for $1,000
River rock for $2,500

To buy a brick or river rock, contact St. Charles Foundation at 541-706-6996 or visit

About St. Charles Foundation

As the philanthropic arm of St. Charles Health System, the Foundation works to support and improve health care in Central and Eastern Oregon. Private donations raised by the Foundation allow St. Charles to build new medical facilities, purchase state-of-the-art medical equipment, keep pace with the latest technological advances and deliver exceptional patient care in a healing environment. The Foundation does more than just raise money for bricks and mortar. The organization also raises money to support many programs that benefit low-income and uninsured patients.

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