Dominican Sisters of Houston
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Sister Pamela Van Giessen, O.P.

Sister Pamela Van Giessen, O.P.
Pamela Cornelia Petronella van Giessen
Sister Pamela was born in Bloemendaal, The Netherlands. The oldest of six she remembers riding horses in the beautiful forests of Fontainebleau, France. “I remember the sun shining through the trees, golden dapples on the leaves, the smells and sounds of the forest around me.  Ever since, a forest for me, is a manifestation and representation of a cathedral of God.”

In 1991 she entered the convent.“I was attracted to the Houston Dominicans because of their strong commitment to women and children’s rights and issues. I was also attracted to them because they are seekers of truth and preachers of truth. From the beginning it was stressed that listening to your own conscience was as important than following the rules. This does not in any way discount obedience owed to the proper and legal and church authority, but it does stress the importance of the value and necessity of thinking for yourself and not just heedlessly and thoughtlessly following the rules.”

In 1993 Sister Pamela served St. Anne Parish visiting the homebound parishioners. In 1994 she was a chaplain at the Houston Seafarers Center in Port of Houston. She would visit seafarers on board ships and provide spiritual and social care.  “One of my most memorable ministries was the Seafarers ministry. There was never a dull moment.” On any given day a chaplain might have to deal with a crisis situation or deal with a social injustice. “The seafarers were always welcoming to visiting chaplains and deeply grateful for any help a chaplain could provide.”

In 2001 Sister Pamela graduated from the University of St Thomas with a MA in Theology and went on to do Clinical Pastoral Education at Memorial Hermann Hospital of the Texas Medical Center. This ministry consisted of classes and training, followed by visits with patients and their families and working on-call during nights and weekends. One particular patient stands out for Sister Pamela. “When I finished praying with her everything was brighter. When I left I felt like I was walking on air. It was a wonderful experience of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. I felt incredibly blessed.”

Sister Pamela spent 2004 serving as Hospice Chaplain at Solari Hospice in Houston providing spiritual care for dying patients and their families. In 2005 she became the Volunteer Coordinator at Santa Maria Hostel, Inc. in Houston recruiting individuals and groups to provide much needed services for women and children suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Sister Pamela continues to serve this community. She coordinates activities for the clients and has recently started a meditation/empowerment class with several of the groups at the hostel.

She enjoys her many hobbies including horseback riding, reading, painting, arts and crafts, puzzles, movies and watching the Houston Rockets and Houston Texans games.

From notes submitted by Sister Pamela van Giessen, O.P. 2014.


  Dominican Sisters of Houston
6501 Almeda Road - Houston, Texas 77021-2095
(713) 747-3310  FAX (713) 747-4707  e-mail:
pporter@domhou.org