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Sister Beth Wright

Current ministry: Assistant administrator, St. Ann Clinic

Years in the Congregation: 9

Q. What do you like best about Saint Mary-of-the-Woods? A. The spirit here. The feel of the place. The peacefulness.

Q. When I am not officially at work, or involved in ministry, you’re most likely to be… A. Reading, playing games, relaxing, visiting with family, friends, and SPs..

Q. I am passionate about… A. Women’s issues.

Q. What the world needs now… A. Is loving and compassionate encounters among people and within creation.

Q. Why did you decide to become a Sister of Providence?

A. That goes into my call story. I am a Catholic convert. I was not Catholic when I felt the call. I was on a spiritual journey, but I did not participate in institutional church at that point. During that part of the process, I was journaling, living my own life, working and had my own place. In my journaling, I was asking questions and having some conversations with God. In those conversations, it was suggested to me that I might want to consider being a nun, which shocked me. I didn’t know what that meant. It was not my life experience. I had not been around nuns. I didn’t do anything with that for a while, but it didn’t go away. Eventually I contacted a family friend, Eileen, who had been a Sister of Saint Joseph. She had left that community many years previously. She was the only person I knew who had any experience in that life. I met with her. Her words of advice to me were, “You need to look at the Catholic faith first, the RCIA program, and you need to go very slowly.” So she suggested that I go through the RCIA program and, if I still felt the need to pursue it, I could get in touch with her again. She said she had a good friend who was a sister in a community that she thought was a wonderful community. So, I did go through RCIA and I was confirmed in April 2000. In November 2000, I went to my first Discernment Weekend (at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods). I had never been to Terre Haute. So I decided if I made it there, it was meant to be and if not, it wasn’t. I did make it, with next to no difficulty, to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. I didn’t offer a lot (during the Discernment Weekend). I was there for input. I was very surprised.

I believe my becoming a Sister of Providence was a combination of the “call”, the connection to this place, the connection to the energy (charism) of this community, and reading about Mother Theodore. One of my deepest passions is women’s issues. I see that in Mother Theodore in her time, in her life, so that really calls to me, along with the needs of our time around women’s issues and how to respond to those needs.

Q. You had no history, no contact, no nothing with the Catholic faith, yet you heard this call?

A. It was very shocking to me. I really resisted this call. It was a “Jeremiah” kind of response. I laughed out loud when I heard this “nun” in my head. I thought and said, “You’ve got to be kidding. I don’t even know what that means. I don’t know what it means to be a nun. I’m not Catholic” – giving a litany of reasons why God must have the wrong person. I was trying to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away. It didn’t come from me. I had no reference for it. I had to pay attention to it. It became a choice. Do I continue to try to ignore it or do I open myself up to the possibility? I took plenty of time in my discernment process. I went at my own pace in discernment, not just with myself, but with God and others. The initial formation process allows for that.

We call our gifts forward. We take risks. … The call is something I could not ignore.
– Sister Beth

Q. Why would a woman today find becoming a Sister of Providence an attractive choice?

A. Women today have so many more opportunities than they used to have. But, women today, in general, in most cultures, are not considered equal. I can only speak from my own experience and what brought me here. With my passion and energy, how did I feel called to focus it? I felt called to focus where I could be with a community of women that I would support and believe I would be supported and be accountable to one another. I wanted to be supported in ministry where I could make a difference. It comes down to, for me, how am I going to use my passion, my life energy? How am I being called to use that? What’s attracting me? For me, it was religious life. It’s a very challenging time in the institutional church. But, where my passions are, I cannot imagine doing it on my own. Community is very important. I am challenged by the members of our Congregation and, in turn, I challenge members of our Congregation. We call our gifts forward. We take risks. Rather than having a family and children, my energies are directed in a different way. The call is something I could not ignore. Anyone who has experienced that would know what I am talking about. If you have an experience, an urging or a call, my advice would be not to ignore it. It’s a leap of faith, at least it was for me. But, I can’t imagine not being where I am now. I have changed and grown a lot from who I was. I feel there is a freedom in being part of a women’s religious community, to have that communal support, both given and received.

Q. Let’s talk a little about your ministry? What is your role?

A. I do pretty much whatever is needed at St. Ann Clinic. We all do just about everything. I interview potential volunteers, give them a tour, and talk with them about their volunteer time. We receive a lot of donations and I work with those, but I’m not the only person who does that. We’re in the process of converting to electronic medical records. I’m the main contact for that process. I focus on those three areas, but I also fill in for a volunteer who isn’t able to come. I am the person who will “fill the gap.” Trying to plan my day is hard because I just don’t know what will happen as a day unfolds. However, no day is the same so it keeps the ministry interesting and life-giving. Many of my daily encounters are surprising and unique.

Q. How much influence does Saint Mother Theodore Guerin have in your life? How do you live out her legacy today?

A. That is part of where we are as a community right now, carrying on the legacy of Mother Theodore and her five companions, and adding our own contributions in these times. I feel like her legacy invites us to be disturbers. To me, she was a disturber. She did not remain in boxes. In her time, she was a business woman, she was a pharmacist, and she was a collaborative leader. She had extreme difficulty and challenges throughout her life, and she maintained respect, love and compassion. She also remained true to herself, true to the Spirit within her. She was very much in support of a woman being at least equal in the world.

Favorites

Website: Libraries, Amazon.

Food: Unfortunately, too many to count.

Flower/plant: Tulip.

Book: I love to read. Too many “favorites” to count.

Recreation: Playing cards, board games, tossing a Frisbee.

Hobby: Reading, hanging out with family and friends.

Sport: To watch, football. To try to play, tennis or kickball.

Music/song: Right now, anything by Daughtry.

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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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