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Impact Stories

Community Comes Together to Dedicate New Healing Garden

On a brisk fall day, dozens from the community gathered for the dedication of the new healing garden located in front of the St. Charles Cancer Center. The healing garden was built in honor of Sister Catherine Hellmann, who served as the Bend hospital’s chief executive and president emeritus from 1969–2001, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Tipton, Indiana, the nuns who boarded a train on Christmas Day in 1917 heading west to bring health care to the small logging town of Bend.

Guests tour the grounds at the Healing Garden dedication.

St. Charles Foundation surpassed its goal of raising $5.7 million toward the new St. Charles Cancer Center and healing garden, which provides a tranquil place for patients, families and caregivers to spend quiet time reflecting. Community members have purchased engraved bricks and river rocks dedicated to individuals, families and businesses that line the path through the garden.

Sisters Marty McEntee and Theresa McIntyre represented the Sisters of St. Joseph of Tipton at the moving dedication ceremony, which celebrated the history of St. Charles and the tremendous sacrifices the sisters made to help make health care available to Central Oregon.

As the story goes, after a priest, Father Luke, repeatedly pleaded with the Sisters to send help, a group of nuns gave up everything they knew to see patients at Bend’s first hospital, located in a tiny house on the banks of the Deschutes River. Their mission was simple: to care for all. Years later, Sister Catherine would take that mission to a new level, building St. Charles Bend’s current location.

“Sister Catherine used to tell us about the first sisters who 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 make up St. Charles Health System today.

Buy a brick or river rock in our new healing garden online or contact Kelly at 541-706-6996 or

Buy a brick online