Making sense of the present moment
This article is reprinted from summer 2008 issue of HOPE.
Sister Cathy Campbell explained Providence Spirituality as the “sacrament of the present moment,” as does Jean-Pierre de Caussade in his book, “Abandonment to Divine Providence.”
“I try to stay open to God in each person, moment and circumstance that I encounter,” she added.
Sister Cathy has been a Sister of Providence for 42 years, having first come to know the sisters as a student at Immaculata High School in Washington, D.C., and later at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She was a year-round student, working summers in the college business office. Because of this, she got to know the sisters as teachers and friends, learning about their ministries first-hand. Sister Cathy also participated in the sisters’ prayer life.
She had no desire to be a sister, however. She wanted to become an award-winning journalist; so after college she went to work for The Indianapolis Star. While working at The Star, Sister Cathy began to feel a call to explore religious life. After a series of conversations with an SP friend who had also been a college advisor, she decided to apply.
“I had always felt a resonance with the Sisters of Providence life and mission and was impressed by their visible commitment to love, mercy and justice.” She decided to “give it six months and see what happened.” The rest is history.
In developing her own understanding of Providence spirituality, Sister Cathy says she has fused ideas from many SPs who have influenced her, like Sister Barbara Doherty. “I learned from them that Providence is that name and face of God that enables you in the swirl of life to make sense of the present moment. I try to be a reflective person that looks for the face of God amid the chaos in various moments of life,” said Sister Cathy.
She has many spiritual practices including prayer, spiritual reading and participating often in the Eucharist. “I also value having spiritual companions — good friends, sisters and priests, lay men and women — who are in touch with God in significant ways. It’s good to reflect and pray with them about what’s happening in our lives as faithful people,” said Sister Cathy.
Sister Cathy has had great devotion to Saint Mother Theodore Guerin since she was a teenager. “She was a woman who did in fact eloquently live the notion of the sacrament of the present moment. She took what God put in her path and saw it through with love, mercy and justice. She’s probably my greatest role model,” said Sister Cathy.
The Scriptures are very important to Sister Cathy. “They are the Word of God and I have always felt inspired by them. I think of myself as a person of the Word because I am a writer and I now teach the Old and New Testaments to my students.”
She is fairly eclectic in her reading and keeps an open mind. “I’m always looking to see how the Word is being broken open to help us meet the challenges of the secular world,” added Sister Cathy. She has recently become interested in the writings of Pope Benedict XVI and is reading his “Jesus of Nazareth” which she has found “moving and beautiful.”
Sister Cathy feels the Beatitudes provide a good understanding of the gospel message today. “God calls us blessed. In a very real way, God gives us an agenda for the Christian life and reminds us that if we develop certain attitudes, we can become a blessing to one another and the world,” said Sister Cathy.
Putting her faith into practice, Sister Cathy currently teaches theology at Providence Cristo Rey High School, a Congregation- sponsored institution in Indianapolis serving economically disadvantaged youth. She is also campus minister, handling faith formation activities for students, faculty, staff members and parents.
“I’m pleased that the Sisters of Providence are committed to this ministry and that I am a part of it. Religious communities have grown and prospered throughout history by meeting real needs of real people. In this way, they have shown they understand that they are participating in God’s mission.”