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Yvonne Conniff: deepening her spirituality

Yvonne Conniff (center) is flanked by Terry Broberg-Swangin (left) of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Debbie Prieto of Gary, Ind.

Yvonne Conniff is a Providence Associate from Indianapolis. She made her first commitment as an associate in 2009. Her companion was and is Sister Theresa Clare Carr, also of Indianapolis.

1.) Share with us a little about yourself.

I am currently a member of Nativity Catholic Church in Indianapolis and volunteer in the parish as time permits as a Eucharistic Minister, at the parish festival in the summer and fundraising for the yearly Reverse Raffle held in January.

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

I grew up in St. Anthony Parish, Indianapolis, and attended school there (grades one through eight). Of course, we had Sisters of Providence for every grade but one (4th grade). I especially remember Sister Elizabeth Ann [Flori, RIP] for first grade, Sister Claudia [Lewis, RIP] for seventh grade and Sister Dennis [Sister Anne Doherty] for eighth grade. I have very fond memories from those days.

3.) Who was your companion? Share with us a little about that relationship.

My companion was and still is Sister Theresa Clare Carr. I remember the first time we met in person was when we drove to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for orientation. I don’t think I stopped talking the entire one-and-a-half-hour drive — most likely it was my nervousness kicking in. That was some three years ago and we continue to meet every four to six weeks if possible to share food, fun and spiritual growth.

4.) Finish this thought: People would be surprised to know that I …

People would be surprised to know that I was accepted as a postulant by the Sisters of St. Francis and spent three to four months at Oldenburg, Ind., in 1966. Unfortunately at 17, home sickness got the best of me. A couple years passed, I married and had a daughter. The marriage only lasted seven years, but I was determined I was going to send my daughter to a Catholic school — so work two jobs I did. I consider it a blessing I could do that for her. We were members of St. Mark Parish where she (Stephanie) attended grade school followed by four years at Roncalli High School. After a year at IUPUI in Indianapolis, Steph transferred to the IU campus in Bloomington, Ind. It was at this time I seemed to drift away from the Church.

5.) Finish this thought: Providence is …

Providence is “Coming Back Home” to the Church. Out of the blue, like a wake-up call, I was so overcome with the desire to return to the Church and start practicing my faith once again. This occurred when my oldest granddaughter was preparing for her First Holy Communion four years ago. It was about that time I learned that Sister Dennis (Sister Anne Doherty) was at the Woods and I eventually paid her visit. As so many others have mentioned, when I drove through the gates at the Woods, I felt Mother Theodore’s presence was with me. I asked Sister Anne about the Providence Associate Relationship and tried to get as much information as I could. That led to Sister Mary Alice [Zander, RIP]!

6.) What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy going for walks when weather permits, watching football, going to my granddaughters’ sporting events and for quiet time — working on a counted cross stitch pattern or scrapbooking.

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

I felt a need to become a Providence Associate to learn more about the community and to deepen my spirituality in our Provident God. I hope in the future I will be able to volunteer more of my time at the Woods wherever I may be of service.

8.) Who are your spiritual heroes?

My spiritual heroes are those saints and martyrs who have gone before me. Their sacrifices are inspirational! As with Mother Theodore — to pick up and come to Indiana! Could I do that? I wonder.

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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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