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Joni Luna: ‘keeping it real’

Joni Luna (left) and her companion, Sister Barbara Bluntzer, smile for the photographer during the second orientation for Providence Candidate-Associates in October 2010.

Joni Luna is a Providence Candidate-Associate from Corpus Christi, Texas. She is companioned by Sister Barbara Bluntzer, also of Corpus Christi.

1.) Share with us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. I am the oldest of seven children, six girls and one boy. I am also the oldest of 43 grandchildren on my mother’s side. I was raised by my mother, Olga Gallegos. My grandmother Elena L. Cortez continues to be the biggest influence in my life. My wonderful niece Ashley Lauren Luna is now living with me as she prepares to enter college next fall.

I moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1996 because as a young girl I dreamed about living on a beach and having a boat. I live on the Luguna Madre and love taking the boat out.

I graduated from South San West Campus High School in San Antonio then attended Incarnate Word College in San Antonio where I received a bachelor of science degree. In 2004 I received my master’s degree from Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, in educational administration.

I have been a teacher/coach of physical education and volleyball for 19 years. I attend St. Pius X in Corpus Christi and take communion to those members of our parish that cannot attend Mass.

I love going to the beach, camping with my nieces and nephews, and having prayer group in my home with family and friends. I also love coming to the Woods and visiting with my friend Sister Rosalie Weller.

2.) What is your connection with the Sisters of Providence?

Four years ago I began taking religion classes at St. Pius and yours truly, Sister Barbara Bluntzer, was teaching the class. She invited me to come to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods with her. I did, and the rest is history. I’ve been coming to the Woods ever since.

3.) Did you know your companion, Sister Barbara Bluntzer, before you became a candidate? If yes, how?

I met Sister B at St. Pius and she and I became instant friends. I was enamored with her energy and her ability to give of herself so freely to all those who she comes in contact. I enjoy talking and learning from her. We also enjoy playing board games and going to see new things. She is always ready to go.

4.) What is your impression of the Spiritual Integration Units? What has challenged you? What do you enjoy most?

My impression of the Spiritual Integration Units is they are a variety of lessons guiding, shaping, forming and strengthening my relationship with God. They have exposed to me my true heart, mind and soul. They have given me the courage to step out of myself and lean on the mysterious ways God is working in my life.

The units have challenged me to trust that God will and does make all things possible. They have challenged me to accept that even with all my faults and character defects God loves me and wants me to be open to his love, grace and Providence.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to share in the units and participate in the many lessons as I have developed my spiritual connections with God. I cannot even begin to explain the overwhelming sense of excitement and inner satisfaction that I experience throughout the lessons. It is truly a God connection.

5.) What is the best piece of advice that anyone has given you?

I love many of Maya Angelou’s pieces of advice on life. My two favorites are: “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!” and “Do the next right thing.”

6.) Finish this thought: Providence is …

a. delighting in the perfect love God has for us.
b. marveling in the unyielding grace that God has for us.
c. having a tolerant, forgiving and merciful heart.
d. keeping it real.
e. doing the right thing.
f. honoring God by living our best life every day.

7.) Why do you want to become a Providence Associate?

Becoming a Providence Associate gives me the opportunity to share in the electric character of the Sisters of Providence. I consider myself most richly blessed to have crossed paths with Sister B and journey into a deeper relationship with the community, myself and, most importantly, God.

8.) Finish this thought: So far during my candidacy I’ve learned …

… that a true relationship with God requires that I reach to the depths of my soul and witness who is the real me. That each day I must read, react and respond to God’s calling — read how my day is playing out, be ready to react to circumstances as they unfold and respond as God would. That being connected to God is a daily reprieve and that I am a work in progress doing the best I can to live, love and share God’s message. I am blessed to have found the Sisters of Providence to guide, direct and challenge me in becoming the whole Joni Luna God intended me to be.

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Connie McCammon

Connie McCammon worked in the communications office for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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