Sister Patty Wallace
Years in the Congregation: 6 years
If I weren’t an SP I’d be … living in a log cabin in the Indiana woods surrounded by cats.
Sister Patty Wallace has a long history with the Sisters of Providence.
She remembers that in fourth grade Sister Frances Joan Baker was her teacher. Sister Maureen Loonam was her principal. She studied under Sister Marie Alexis Geiger who later became principal. In eighth grade, Sister Marilyn Baker was like a personal friend. Sister Mary Ann Stewart was one of her high school teachers. And, turning back the clock a little, Sister Marie Kevin Tighe taught her father at a school in New Castle, Ind.
“Sister Frances Joan gave me a card that said bloom where you are planted. I still have that card,” Sister Patty said.
“I always had a lot of contact with the Sisters of Providence. We lived in an Indianapolis neighborhood that was near my school (St. Simon School),” Sister Patty said. “I would see sisters riding their bikes. Dad would go over to see if they were OK. We were kind of neighbors. We had them over to our house for dinner a few times.”
Sister Patty said she didn’t have to go very far to find a congregation to join because of her long-time contact with the Sisters of Providence. But, she still needed some convincing.
“I think I have the record for going to discernment weekends,” she chuckled.
Sister Patty’s family moved to Louisiana when she was 23 because of her father’s employment transfer. She found a job in a children’s library there, but she said she always wanted to return to Indiana. That’s when her life started to transform.
“The year 2002 was a major turning point. I tried to ask myself, ‘What if I never lived in Indiana again? Is this where I want my life to be?’” Sister Patty recalled.
“It came to a point that I needed to choose which direction to go. I left Louisiana and came back to Indiana. I worked as a Providence Volunteer Minister at Woods Day Care/Pre-School and in (the Sisters of Providence) health care, and I tutored children,” Sister Patty said.
It was that time, about a year from her return to Indiana, that she entered the Sisters of Providence.
“It was a time of incredible transformation. Through the formation process, I went from a scared and shy person to a more confident and engaging person. I deepened my relationship with God. I became more confident in myself and my relationship with others,” Sister Patty said.
Parallel with her relationship with the Sisters of Providence, is her relationship with God, which is significantly important to her. She enjoys, appreciates, depends upon and embraces the presence of God in her life.
“I am aware of the presence of God in my life and in the people who come into my life. I see God in the people in my life,” Sister Patty said. “I see God in nature. There was a creek behind our house that I used to sit by. Jesus is kind of an imaginary friend for me. I like to spend time in church when no one else is there, especially in times of struggle. I sense God’s presence in the good times, challenging times, times of stress and in illness.
“As I look back, I can see more signs of God’s presence in my life. I have always been interested in the church and the presence of God. I am grateful that I was able to choose a way of life to live that out. I enjoy my relationship with Jesus. I appreciate the influence of First Communion and Confirmation and being part of the church community,” she continued. “I also have learned to pray in a different way. It’s not just sitting down and reciting things. I like the creative part, enjoying nature, the creative part of music, writing in journals, doing artwork.” Her time with the Congregation has been special for her.
“The community was real good to me, giving me two years as a postulant and giving me time to mature. I went through a big transformation at that time. Sometimes it was difficult, but I always felt the presence of God and the support of the community,” Sister Patty said.
She spent her novitiate time at Saint Mary of- the-Woods and moved back to Indianapolis as a mission novice. “The years of initial formation and contact with the community have made a big difference for me. I see the presence of Providence and the possibilities for love, mercy and justice,” she said, referring to the Congregation’s mission.
“I feel like I can do much more in the community than I could by myself. Sister Marie Kevin said to me that our purpose is to help each other get to heaven. I feel like the community really believes in me and calls me to be the person God wants me to be and desires me to be,” she said.
Sister Patty ministers as children’s librarian at a public library branch of the Indianapolis- Marion County Public Library.
“I love working with kids. It has been a main focus in ministry for me throughout college and high school,” she noted.
Sister Patty previously worked at a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) camp in Brown County, Ind., and at a day care for the children of drivers who competed in the annual Indianapolis 500-mile race. She has a degree in elementary education from Butler University, but after student teaching, she decided she needed a different type of presence with children.
Music also is a noteworthy part of Sister Patty’s life. She has played guitar in church groups since high school. She also has taken piano, clarinet and saxophone lessons. “Music is a big part of participation in the Liturgy. It’s an important way for me to participate,” she said.
Sister Patty believes strongly in the future of religious life.
“Even though our numbers might be diminishing, there will be a new way of religious life, a new way of living the spirituality of Providence. Religious life is much needed in our world today. There is so much violence, destruction of humanity, and a real sense of disconnection with God. I think the future of religious life is to reach out and bring peace and justice to our world. I think different congregations will be working together. I feel like God is bringing to us the guidance that we need at this time,” she said.
Favoritesfavorite scripture passage: Romans 8. Nothing separates us from the love of God
favorite food: macaroni and cheese
favorite book: The Wolf’s Chicken Stew (for storytime)
favorite movie: “Oh God,” starring George Burns and John Denver
favorite TV show: Touched by an Angel, or America’s Funniest Home Videos
favorite vacation spot: Indiana
favorite comic strip: Calvin and Hobbes
favorite season: Autumn in Indiana
favorite outdoor activity: bike riding
favorite hero-heroine: Sister Alice Louise Potts
favorite course in school: math
favorite saint: Saint Mother Theodore Guerin
favorite actor/actress: Jimmy Stewart
favorite style of music: John Denver
favorite animal in the zoo: eagle
favorite animal: cat
favorite author: James Michener
favorite childhood activity: camping with my friends in Indiana and Colorado