Providence Associate Monica Hayden (left) participates in the Providence Event in June 2012.

Monica Hayden made her first commitment as a Providence Associate in 2011. She was companioned by Sister Ann Sullivan. Monica currently resides in Covington, Ga., with her husband, Kurt, but the couple will soon be moving to a small town near Asheville, N.C.

Monica writes two blogs, Arts ‘n Quilts and Articulations.

1.) Share with us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Santiago, Chile, which is where my whole family is from. I was an only child until 9, when my little sister showed up. I also have a half-sister and a half-brother — both older —children from a previous marriage of my father’s, who lost his first wife to cancer when they were little. Sadly both my parents are deceased.

I am married and have two children from a previous marriage. My current husband, Kurt, is originally from Washington State — we met in South America while he was a teacher at the International School there, where I worked. I already had two kids, whose father is also from Chile. However, they followed me to the U.S. when Kurt and I got married back in 1990, their father being gracious enough to allow them to leave the country without problems. They are now adults, both married to U.S. citizens, but no children in sight.

My son, Arturo, is a cellist, has a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati, and is also a computer programmer, currently working for Kroger in Cincinnati, where he lives with his wife, Jennifer, who is also a cellist, soprano and a crafter, owning her own home-based business.

My daughter, Alicia, is an artist, a graduate from Georgia State University, and currently lives in North Carolina, in a little town near Asheville with her husband, Jim, who is also an artist, poet, writer and photographer.

I have a master’s degree in historic preservation, which I obtained in 2004 from the University of Georgia in Athens, but currently I’m retired after having worked for two years at the Georgia Department of Transportation as an architectural historian, and five years for a local county in Georgia as a special projects coordinator. Before that, I worked for about 45 years in different business-related jobs, mainly for large corporations, such as Walt Disney World and Weyerhaeuser Company. I currently live in Covington, Ga., and attend St. Augustine Parish; however, my husband’s job is relocating us to North Carolina (Charlotte area) very soon. He works for Alcoa.

2.) What is your connection to the Sisters of Providence?

The only connection (discovered very recently, I might add) is through a great aunt who was a Sister of Providence in Santiago, Chile, back in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s when she died. She was my maternal grandfather’s sister, and purported to be “a saint” by all those who remember her.

But my first contact with the sisters at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods was through an ad I saw at our local archdiocesan newspaper a couple of years ago. It caught my eye and prompted me to investigate further. I discovered a great affinity with their charism, and I became very excited at the possibility to get to know them further through the Providence Associates Relationship.

3.) How did you and Sister Ann Sullivan, your companion, proceed through the Spiritual Integration Units since so much distance separated you?

Sister Ann and I are still very connected and we communicate regularly. We have a great affinity and I’m very happy to have had her as a companion and now a friend. We usually had our monthly conferences via telephone, when we discussed the chapters, read the answers I had prepared for the questions in each chapter, and generally talked about these and other matters of spiritual nature. I liked learning more about the Congregation and what principles they stand by, their faith in Providence and their ministries. What challenged me was — honestly — keeping up with the readings.

4.) How do you keep connected with other associates and Sisters of Providence?

I try to talk and email with Sister Ann at least once a month. I also try to stay informed about the comings and goings through the email blasts and the blog.

5.) It appears from reading your blog that quilting is a passion of yours. How did this passion begin? What do you gain from quilting? How does quilting help you to express yourself?

Yes, I very much love to quilt, and everything connected with it: the creativity, the process, the friendships with people of similar interests, the shopping for fabric, etc., etc., etc. I am usually working on several projects at the same time, both machine and hand quilting and piecing. I’ve been doing this since 1998, but I still consider myself an amateur. I’ll never win any awards, or be published in a magazine, or launch a brand of my own. I’m happy just going through the process, working with fabric, making quilts for charity, or gifts, etc. My quilting blog is called Arts ’n Quilts. I also maintain another blog, Articulations, which is more of a mind content type, where I write about things that matter to me, that bother me, or maybe a reaction to some piece of news, or current events item.

6.) How would you describe your spirituality? How does your spirituality affect your life?

This is a hard one. It’s difficult to describe something as subjective and personal as “spirituality.” I believe in God, I feel imitating Jesus is the best way to live; I don’t like to flaunt my faith or constantly be doing things to get “points” towards salvation; I believe one should act according to one’s conscience not to gain a path to Heaven (or whatever form Salvation takes for a person), but out of love. Sometimes it’s hard to love or even to tolerate some people, and this is where the challenge really lies. This is why imitating Jesus Christ as best as we can is the only way to overcome these shortcomings. I believe He delineated a clear path for us, if we could ONLY place our own selfish needs second and “do the loving thing” first. I get very turned off by people who are constantly showing off how “righteous” and “pious” they are (or think they are); I find that attitude to be motivated mostly by personal pride, one of the cardinal sins I despise most.

7.) What do you know now that you wish you knew 20 years ago?

That life goes on despite everything, and that everything works out in the end.

8.) Finish this thought: Providence is …

… a beacon of hope in a desert of adversity.

9.) Finish this thought: I feel more balanced when …

… I’ve heard from both my kids and know that they’re alright.

10.) Anything else you’d like to share?

I feel blessed to be part of the Sisters of Providence. I’m very happy to have responded to the call, and I only wish I lived closer to the Woods so that I could participate more!