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Annmarie Portela: ‘With this decision, I am truly content’

Annmarie Portela (back row, center) with her family and companion, Sister Ellen Cunningham (left).

Annmarie Portela and her husband, two daughters and their golden retriever live in St. John, Ind. Her companion was Sister Ellen Cunningham.

1.) Why did you want to become a Providence Associate?

In addition to having a great fondness for the Sisters of Providence, the possibility of becoming a Providence Associate came at a most propitious time for me. I was searching (and continue to do so) for a deeper understanding of my purpose in this life, its meaning, and the contributions that I must make. I see the Providence Associate Relationship as a way in which this journey can be made with a supportive purpose, gaining knowledge and experience regarding the history and mission of the Sisters of Providence, creating new relationships and contributing with my own gifts and talents, while sharing in prayer, communications and work and life experiences.

2.) Did you know Sister Ellen Cunningham prior to entering your candidacy?

Yes. I attended Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and Sister Ellen was my academic advisor. During college, I believe a special relationship developed. Throughout the years, she continues to be a mentor, an inspiration and a good friend.

3.) What was it like going through the Spiritual Integration Units with Sister Ellen? How did you complete the units?

It was a refreshing renewal of spiritual conversation with Sister Ellen. Each unit brought out a level of discussion that taught us something more about each other, creating a deeper understanding of each other’s thoughts.

Monthly, I would travel to Sister Ellen’s house to complete one of the units. Although we had a set schedule of a particular unit, we did “go with the flow” regarding each discussion. On a few occasions, we did meet with Priscilla Hutton and her companion, Sister Rita Clare Gerardot, and Jessi Blessinger and her companion, Sister Mary Mundy, which was a really nice experience and discussion also.

4.) What commitment did you make for this year?

The following are the commitments I made for the year, but I see them as for a lifetime:

continually view the lives of the Sisters of Providence as they exemplify a forever challenge of living my life justly, lovingly and compassionately; (i.e.: Visit a sister I did not know and get to know her and her life’s mission!)
conscientiously reflect on my own experiences, through prayer and meditation, to understand their greater meaning; (i.e.: Attend the Providence Associate Retreat)
offer my gifts and talents by volunteering and tutoring in an educational setting. (i.e.: volunteer at my child’s school as a tutor and an aide)

5.) Share with us about your family.

I am married and my husband is from Colombia, South America. My marriage to him continued to open my heart, mind and eyes to other cultures, social issues and the world around me. This relationship has provided a nice complement to the spirit and mission of the Sisters of Providence of breaking boundaries and creating hope.

Prior to my career as a full-time domestic engineer, I was a technical analyst designing and developing computer application systems for an actuarial department in an insurance company for about 10 years. Currently, I am volunteering at the school as a tutor and reading group assistant.

6.) What would you like to share with someone who is considering becoming an associate?

I would like to share my understanding of the Providence Associate Relationship with the poem that I wrote as my intention letter to become an associate. It expresses what this relationship means to me:

To become a Providence Associate …

To become a Providence Associate is my intent –
With this decision, I am truly content…
This is a journey that I am willing to make –
In the Spirit of Providence, I want to partake…
My admiration of sisters continues to grow –
Learning about their experiences I did not know…
How You stand and promote what’s true –
About serving God and her people too…
Opening my eyes for things to see –
This is what it means to me:
To better understand and help prepare –
A world of equality, of justice, of one that’s fair…
To contemplate life and those in need –
By prayer, meditation and actual deeds…
To continue being educated and spread the news –
This Earth needs protection; she’s paid her dues…
To constantly be challenged and wonder why –
This purpose I’m given from God on high…
To reflect on experiences that make me whole –
Continuing to open my heart, mind, and soul…
To recognize delicate situations I will face –
And willingly tackle them with a given grace…
To encompass this spirituality that continues to evolve –
Spreading love, mercy and justice for the whole world to revolve…
Taking this opportunity to enhance my life –
Adding dimension to being a mother, and being a wife…
A Providence Associate I would like to be –
Kindly, sisters, consider me…
(And they did!)

Written by: Annmarie Portela

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Connie McCammon

Connie McCammon worked in the communications office for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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