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Sister Marianne Mader

Current ministry: Archives researcher and patient advocate for BioRx.

Years in the Congregation: 44

Contact Sister Marianne at: Mmader@spsmw.org, 812-535-2575.

Q. What do you like best about Saint Mary-of-the-Woods? A. Its peace and tranquility, and its beauty.

Q. When I am not officially at work or involved in ministry, you are most likely to see me … A. Either reading or talking with friends or playing Skip-Bo.

Q. On weekends I love to … A. Get up early and sometimes I go shopping. And I spend a little more time in prayer, ordering my life for the next week. I also do extra reading and attend the Sat. and Sun. night movies.

Q. I am passionate about … A. Research.

Q. Name one thing most people don’t know about you? A. I think people don’t realize that I am an introvert.

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

A. I grew up in the shadow of St. Philip Neri Convent. The schoolyard joined our house. The convent was across the schoolyard, so I was accustomed to seeing the sisters. I would be called from their back door to come over and help them with something. So, it seemed like a natural fit. I went to St. Phillip’s from kindergarten through eighth grade. In eighth grade, I decided I wanted to go to the Aspirancy, but my parents thought that I should wait another year to try high school out in Indianapolis. So, I went to St. Mary’s Academy and for my sophomore year I transferred here to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. All my life I wanted to be a sister. The call was there when I was very young. I was attracted to the sisters. I was attracted to what they did. But, what is ironical, I was not attracted, necessarily, to teaching. I wanted to be a librarian when I was five years old. I taught myself to read when I was five years old so I could get a library card. The sisters told me I could be a librarian and still be a Sister of Providence. I never looked back after that.

Q. You talked about your familiarity with the Sisters of Providence at a young age. How did you know you had the call?

A. I was drawn to their life. I was drawn to a life of prayer and that prayer would lead to an outreach of service. I think from early on, my life really was providential. I was not supposed to even be here. I was very premature at birth. They baptized me when I was born because I weighed three pounds and 13 ounces. I kept losing weight. My mother desperately wanted to make sure I lived. They baptized me in the hospital. I was born on January 15, but my baptism wasn’t until March 6 on my dad’s birthday. They took me back to church and did the whole ceremony. The priest, he’s still alive, said to my mother, “You never know. She might grow up to be something after all. You can never look at them at this stage and wonder if she’s going to make it.” So, you know, I feel like my whole life is providential. I could see in the sisters that they were happy and that looked good to me. I grew up in a large family, so being with a lot of people didn’t bother me. I was in their convent a lot to help clean, decorate the Christmas tree. I did all kinds of stuff. We worked in the sacristy. I had a familiarity with what their life might be like. Seeing them march into church together, it seemed like a mysterious-type thing. And I genuinely liked the sisters who taught me. We would go into the convent and we would hear them chanting. I thought that was interesting too. I thought, “Gee, I’d like to try this.” But, I never expected to teach. I thought I’d be a librarian right of the bat.

It is a very good life. You are able to use your potential in ways you never would have imagined.
– Sister Marianne

Q. What would you tell a woman today who might be thinking about religious life?

A. It is a very good life. You are able to use your potential in ways you never would have imagined. With the help of other women, you have a great deal of support. What you cannot do as a single person, you often can do with others. That’s just the service part. Most young people today are looking for prayer. They are looking for silence. They are looking for God in their life. You will find that as a sister. Prayer life is very important. The Eucharist is very important. And, lastly, living in community with other sisters, that’s your support. You absolutely need that the same way wives need their husbands and children. Here, you have these other sisters who support you and it feels very good when you have to go out and represent yourself to know that they are behind you. I think it is still a viable life. It’s not like it was when I entered and that’s because there are so many opportunities out there for women that didn’t exist when I entered. You were either a secretary, a nurse, a teacher, a nun or you got married. Now, you can be a social worker and still be a sister. You can be a doctor and still be a sister, but you would have to be creative. What the blessings for me have been is the Sisters of Providence have helped me utilize my skills and they’re always there to help you. I believe in the support, prayer and community life and they say that’s what young people want today, along with service opportunities.

Q. What did you find while you were doing that medical research on the Cause for Saint Mother Theodore’s sainthood?

A. The research was based on a series of questions that came from Rome. It was a series of faxes actually. Probably the biggest find I had, which was really going to be helpful, they wanted the credentials of this Dr. Willem, who was here in 1909. They wanted me to get a hold of his colleagues. Now this is 1994, you know. How many of his colleagues are going to be alive? Well, by obituaries, you often find what their degrees are. I had to go through this filthy box in the basement of the IU library in Indianapolis. The librarian said, “Well, we have the old ones, but you’re going to have to go through the boxes and they aren’t real clean.” I said I didn’t care. The second to the last thing in the bottom of the box, when I was beginning to despair, there it was. I remember saying, “YES!” really loud. There were medical students at a table and they said, “Wow, you must have found a gem.” I said, “If only you knew!” I copied it and he had two medical degrees. I believe that was one of the clinchers. They knew he wasn’t a quack. It was odd because they wanted to know why there were no X-rays taken of Mother Theodore. X-rays weren’t even around much at that time. I turned all of this in and I waited 14 months to see what they were going to say about it. That was the pinnacle of anything I’ve ever done. Nowadays, when you want to prove a miracle, the doctors are hanging around. Just when you think your life is about over, and you’re not going to get to do something, God plays tricks on you. It happened for a reason and my being here was supposed to happen.


Food: Fried chicken.

Flower or plant: Daisies.

TV show: CSI, Bones.

Vacation spot: Anything historical.

Sport: Football (Colts), basketball.

Scripture: “I can do all things in God.” Romans 8.

Quote: “Have confidence in the Providence that so far has never failed us.” – Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

Holiday: Christmas.

Author: Mary Higgins Clark and John Grisham.

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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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