Sr. Charlene Herinckx, S.S.M.O. ‘78

Receiving the University’s highest honor, the Christus Magister Medal, is Sr. Charlene Herinckx, S.S.M.O. Sr. Herinckx was elected Superior General of the Sisters of Saint Mary of Oregon (S.S.M.O.) in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015. The S.S.M.O., which are the only religious community to be founded in Oregon, officially opened their convent in 1886, and in 1889, they opened an orphanage. Since that time, the sisters have been deeply committed to serving others, especially through education and health care. Through the years, the order founded St. Mary’s Home for Boys, St. Mary’s Institute, St. Mary of the Valley boarding school, St. Mary of the Valley High School (now known as Valley Catholic), and Maryville Nursing Home. Sr. Herinckx was raised in Roy, Oregon, a small community near the Tualatin Valley, where the Sisters of Saint Mary began teaching in 1912. The sisters taught her parents, siblings, and extended family, playing a vital role in her faith development. She entered the convent as a candidate in 1966 and professed perpetual vows in 1974. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Marylhurst University, Sr. Charlene earned a master’s degree in education at the University of Portland and a second master’s degree from the University of San Francisco. A teacher and principal at schools across the Portland metro region, she also served on the National Religious Vocation Conference Board.

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