Alice Shelton: getting to know the Congregation in a new way
Alice and her husband, John, reside in Indianapolis. She has four grown stepchildren. A graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), Alice has worked at Marian College in Indianapolis since 1990. She is the director of Business Services. John also works at Marian College. Alice and John are members of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Carmel, Ind., and have participated in Christ Renews His Parish.
Alice’s companion was Sister Margaret Quinlan.
1.) Share a little about yourself and your husband, John.
John is an associate of the sisters of St. Francis of Oldenburg, Ind. So we are sort of a “mixed couple” we like to say! We were fortunate four years ago to both be selected to participate in a leadership pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome, Italy, with two faculty members from Marian. It was a great experience for both of us and John really caught the Franciscan bug. It’s been an interesting journey for me to blend the charism of the two orders into my life
2.) Why did you want to become a Providence Associate?
I have been in relationship with the Sisters of Providence since my birth, I believe. My godmother and aunt, Sondra Cornelius Wellman, was an SP many years ago and she, my mother and another aunt went to the Woods. So I have very early memories [and pictures!] of being at SMWC. I was taught by SPs in both grade and high school and had many SP babysitters in my life including Sisters Ann Michele Kiefer and Jenny Howard. Sister Denise Wilkinson was my first boss out of college when I worked for SMWC. Sister Joan Slobig and I recently did a huge project in settling a close friend’s estate and trust as her executrixes! I could go on and on but I won’t! For me, becoming an associate was really formalizing an existing connection and publicly saying that I wanted to be a part of this community.
3.) Did you know Sister Margaret Quinlan prior to becoming an associate?
I did not know Sister Margaret before becoming an associate. Because I know so many SPs personally, I felt that it was important for me to work with someone whom I did not know. I knew with the existing relationships it might be easy to take some shortcuts and not get at all the information in the depth I wanted to. That was a good choice on my part. Sister Mary Alice [Zander, director of Providence Associates] matched Sister Margaret and me and it has been a match made in heaven. In some ways, we are complete opposites from outside appearances — I am an extreme extrovert and I would characterize Sister Margaret as more introverted. She is an avid baseball fan and I yawn through any game. However, from the moment we met, we have not really stopped talking. We are both avid readers and share lots about books. We love nature and cooking. Again, I could go on and on!
4.) What was it like going through the Spiritual Integration Units with Sister Margaret?
Going through the Spiritual Integration Units was a moving experience for me. Sister Margaret took them seriously and I did, too. We met in person [mostly at Corbe House where she lives] and talked and talked. Sometimes we e-mailed when we didn’t get enough talking done. I ended up having to read the entire book of Psalms to figure out my favorite one after a conversation with Sister Margaret where it became clear that I hadn’t figured the answer to that question out! That was a LONG Lent for me! Sister Margaret has a wonderful and open view of our loving God and she has influenced me a great deal in terms of my view of spirituality and Providence in our world. Sister Margaret spent a lot of time sharing about herself and her journey as a person who is a Sister of Providence. I have a wonderful sense of her family life and her early years on formation. One of my very favorite things about Sister Margaret is her wonderful, illuminating smile. When I see her, it is always a gift to watch her face light up in recognition that I am there! She makes me feel very special.
5.) What’s the best part of being a Providence Associate?
The best part of being a Providence Associate is coming to know the SPs in a new way. I thought that I knew everything that there was to know about the SPs because I knew so many of them. How wrong I was! Every time I pick up something from the SPs [this morning it was the issue of HOPE] I learn more about this special and intentional group of women. Being in association with the sisters has really broadened my view of creation in many ways. I continue to want to find ways to live more gently on Earth and be a better servant to those around me. The sisters model that so well — and so effortlessly.
6.) What commitment did you make?
My primary focus during the first year has been to be more intentional about doing spiritual reading [and I have been! Can’t get enough of it!] and reflection. I had hoped to meet more often with other associates and SPs in Indy but we have only had one meeting — which was amazing — and so I will continue with that. I also committed to continue to meet and be in conversation with Sister Margaret — we have done that. I am pondering what next year will bring for me — another e-mail to get tending to from Sister Mary Alice!
7.) What would you share with those people thinking about becoming an associate?
When others ask me about being a Providence Associate, I tell them that it is sort of hard for me to explain — because for me, it is so much a continuation of an existing part of my daily life. Those who are interested in becoming an associate should know that they will be welcomed unconditionally by the sisters. They will find interest in who they are and what their journey is about, they will find openness to diversity and they will find much fun, laughter, prayer and praise. I have been so pleased by the diversity of the associates — each person I meet has a story that helps to complete the circle. I also think folks need to know that they will be challenged — to open their thinking, to change their view of God and to move beyond their comfort zone.