Maria Price: no longer a bystander
Maria Price is a Providence Candidate-Associate who lives in Louisville, Ky. She is the executive director at St. John Center, a homeless shelter in Louisville. Her companions are Sisters Eileen Rose and Brigid Ann Bonner.
1.) Tell us about yourself.
I grew up on a farm in southern Illinois and was raised in the Protestant tradition. My father was a seeker, however, and after the death of his oldest child, he sought counsel from a Catholic priest in Vincennes, Ind., and a Jewish rabbi in Evansville, Ind. He encouraged me to consider my own spiritual journey thoughtfully. Watching him turn to theological studies as a way to grapple with his grief and cosmic understanding inspired me to study theology at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC).
Upon graduation (’87), I moved to Louisville, Ky., where I have lived for most of the 21 years since. I have found meaningful work here, although I miss the farm and rural life very much. I found a peace-making and justice-seeking faith community soon after moving to Louisville and the community of St. William Church helped raise me. I found a life-partner, together now 12 years.
My work has always been my faith in action: teaching religion, community organizing in order to allow disenfranchised communities to use their voice and build power for positive change, public policy work, and now fund development for a homeless shelter. My work has been a process of allowing me to get closer and closer to people who live further and further on the edges of society.
I never imagined that I’d do full time fundraising. The minute the budget is raised, we begin working on the next. These precarious economic times are very stressful for our shelter and our ability to raise the funds needed to continue the mission. So I take courage from Saint Mother Theodore: her first trip back to France was to RAISE FUNDS for her mission!
Other interests: Perhaps due to my farming background, all things food hold my interest! Gardening, food preservation and cooking are more than hobbies. I value simple living, and this allows me to live lower on the food chain. I value habits that promote health and wellness, so in addition to eating healthfully, I am a running enthusiast and finished my first marathon last year. I enjoy reading, and typically juggle spiritual reading, political analysis, history or a biography, and cookbooks.
2.) What is your connection to the Congregation? Did you know Sisters Eileen Rose and Brigid Ann Bonner prior to becoming a candidate associate?
I met the Sisters of Providence as a first-year student at SMWC. Beginning with the opening brunch for new students, I stood in awe of Sister Jeanne Knoerle’s strength and poise. Sister Wendy Workman and the women of Woodland Inn introduced us to Founder’s Day by leaving little bags of candy and quotes of Mother Theodore Guerin at our dorm doors in LeFer Hall. Sisters Alexa Suelzer, Ruth Eileen Dwyer and Barbara Doherty inspired me and encouraged me as a theology student. Sisters Ann Sullivan and Rosemary Nudd were real role models.
I was, and still am, deeply attracted to community life. Since 1995, fellow Woods grads and I have gathered to celebrate Founder’s Day. We share a simple dinner, read the passage from the history of the Sisters of Providence that recalls the sisters’ departure from Vincennes to landing at the Woods, read from Mother Theodore’s “Journals and Letters,” and adjourn to pumpkin pie and storytelling. We cherish this ritual and it truly keeps our hearts close to the Sisters of Providence.
I did not know Sisters Eileen Rose and Brigid Ann before this process, but upon our first meeting, over lunch, they captured my heart. They are wonderful examples of women who live a Providence spirituality.
3.) How do the three of you progress through the Spiritual Integration Units?
When we gather, we open with prayer. Then we “open the floor” to general reactions to the unit that was our focus over the last month. This always inspires discussion, general observation, and story-telling. I have found it to be intimate and inspiring.
4.) Why do you want to become a Providence Associate?
Being a Providence Associate will formalize where my heart has been for a very long time.
A formal commitment to the Sisters of Providence will allow me to feel like more a part of the community, rather than a bystander.
The ministries that have emerged from the SP community in the last 15 years are exciting. Ministries like the Eighth Day Center and the White Violet Center, that integrate class, race, gender and the environment, are the life of the Church today. I fully support the Congregation’s mission and I am taking this opportunity to articulate my journey in step with the Sisters of Providence, ministering to God’s people through works of love, mercy and justice.
5.) Who have been some of your role models on your spiritual journey?
Sister Alexa Suelzer is a model for me. Her wisdom and thoughtfulness challenge and support me.
Elaine Prevallet, Sister of Loretto, and Thomas Merton and Father Jim Flynn challenge, nurture, teach and guide me.
6.) What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a candidate?
If you seek opportunities to learn from others who are also committed to a deeper interior life, (something that seems rare in our Church today), the Providence Associate program offers one way to do that.
I have found the process to be extremely rewarding because it allows me to deepen my understanding of Providence spirituality and my knowledge of the Congregation. It helps slow down, focus my reflection time with the readings, and see my daily activities through a lens of love and justice.