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Meet Hannah!

Hannah (left) gets a hug from Sister Denise Wilkinson, general superior, under the watchful eye of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

Get to know Hannah Corbin as she warmly shares a part of her faith journey that has led her to joining the Sisters of Providence.

Hannah Corbin is a postulant with the Sisters of Providence. Her spiritual journey has actually been a series of faith and service stepping stones, with each one leading naturally to the next. Only when looking back upon the path does she realize that they’ve led her directly to where she needs to be. The sisters call it Providence.

When Hannah was 12 years old, she became a “junior soldier” with the Salvation Army, a religious organization that also ran the Boys and Girls Club in Louisville, Ky. Her corps had divisional meetings so she got acquainted with members from all over the region. When Hannah moved to New Albany, Ind., she felt at home with the local Salvation Army group. “It was like I had continuous family wherever I went,” said Hannah. “I really connected with the care for the poor and social justice through the Salvation Army,” said Hannah.

Hannah was blessed early on in her life with supportive people. “My mom instilled in me a desire to be open, to respect others and to seek justice. My grandma (who is a Southern Baptist) always encouraged me to attend church.”

When Hannah moved to Indianapolis to attend the University of Indianapolis she found another local corps. She began exploring various faith traditions and took several vocation classes. She was especially drawn to the rituals and sacraments of the Christian faith and was aware that the Salvation Army didn’t include baptism or communion. “They were dedicated to going out and saving souls – kind of an aggressive evangelization – and I began to realize my need for a more non-aggressive lifestyle,” said Hannah.

A friend invited her to Catholic Mass and Hannah noticed that the “language of the Liturgy matched my own evolving understanding of God and the Gospel of Jesus.” She was attracted to the Catholic faith because of the integration between “what you do and who you are.” Hannah eventually left the Salvation Army because she didn’t feel that they were like-minded about the meaning of community.

“I was lucky to have friends who supported me and adult mentors in college through the Ecumenical Interfaith Office,” said Hannah. She experienced ongoing spiritual direction through her relationships with interns and co-ministers in the chaplain’s office. She also discovered that she wanted to major in youth ministry (and German “just for fun”).

Hannah connected with the Catholic Liturgy and Mass. “I found a place where I felt comfortable with my questions and my understanding of God. I remember being moved in Mass as we all held hands during the Our Father, saying collectively this ancient prayer. We were coming together as community before God. I felt a sense of unity and connectedness,” said Hannah.

During Hannah’s college years, she formed a strong relationship with the Sisters of St. Benedict of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Ind. (One of the co-chaplains was a Benedictine sister.) She was invited to one of their Triduum weekend retreats where she celebrated the liturgies with the sisters and spent the rest of the time in intentional silence leading up to the Easter Vigil.

During the Vigil, the sisters lit the fire and acted out the various readings. “The Liturgy touched my whole being – it lit a fire within me and I knew afterwards that I desired to be Catholic.” The following Easter Vigil Hannah became a Catholic as she was baptized, confirmed and received first communion at St. Jude, a parish on the south side of Indianapolis. Hannah continued her strong bond with the Sisters of St. Benedict, joining them for prayer and sometimes a meal.

In the fall of 2005 Hannah attended the National Catholic Youth Conference in Atlanta. She remembers picking up the Sisters of Providence brochure “Monastic or Apostolic?” She realized that although she didn’t feel called to become a Sister of St. Benedict, that didn’t mean she wasn’t called to religious life.

Hannah also signed up to receive the Sisters of Providence e-newsletter and began corresponding with Sister Jenny Howard, the vocations director.It was during this time that several in the ecumenical interfaith community were engaged in an intentional community called Allelon House (Greek for “one another”). Four students including Hannah lived in a duplex and followed a self-established Rule of Life. “We took a class and received credit for it,” said Hannah.

“Letting someone into your life, your joys and sorrows, challenges you to grow and I felt close to people in our community,” said Hannah. “I realized then that community makes so much sense.” She lived in the community until she graduated in May 2006.

Hannah’s “call” to religious life was a gradual process. Each step she took moved her in that direction: living intentionally within community, her prayerful and faith-filled experiences with the Sisters of St. Benedict and her commitment to serve others. She began to research other religious communities to see what choices were possible. She went online to the Vision Web site and read flyers on bulletin boards at college. She remembers seeing the Providence Volunteer Ministry (PVM) opportunity with the Sisters of Providence.

Hannah began attending discernment events with the Sisters of Providence. She became a summer PVM, and lived with the sisters in Owens Hall at the motherhouse. She worked in the gardens at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC), a ministry of the Sisters of Providence, and also helped with the sisters who are elderly in health care.

Being a PVM had a big impact on her faith journey, especially her service to the sisters in health care. She remembers visiting them in Mother Theodore Hall West one day when the sisters were making chocolate-dipped bananas. Sister Rosemary Powers (RIP) didn’t want to participate but Hannah knew she liked to paint so she helped her get out her materials and they painted. When they finished, Hannah helped Sister Rosemary wash the paint off her hands with a wet washcloth. As she was finishing up, Sister Rosemary took the washcloth from Hannah and said, “Now I do you.”

“Here was this sister whose entire life has been lived in service to others. It was such a natural thing for her to offer to wash my hands,” said Hannah. “Letting her serve me was the other half of what it means to be in service to others.”

After being a PVM, Hannah went to work to pay off her school loans. She returned to working in the dietary area at St. Paul’s hermitage (a Sister of St. Benedict ministry), eventually earning her CNA license. Eventually, Hannah began working with troubled young people, using her youth ministry degree, until she entered the Sisters of Providence postulancy in the fall of 2009.

Through her spiritual journey, Hannah has found various ways to feel closely connected to God. She likes nature and being out in creation with the trees, grass, animals and water. She likes to go for walks and swim. “When I’m in service with others, sitting with a sister, playing cards or helping other people, that, too, is a practice that brings me closer to God.” She also enjoys spiritual reading, silence, resting and “thinking about the mystery of God.”

When asked about the future, Hannah says she’d like to be “trusting in Providence every day. I want to follow the movement of Providence in my life so that I’m where I’m supposed to be, when I’m supposed to be there.”

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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