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Sisters of Providence support ministries serving people who are economically disadvantaged

Sister Carol Nolan teaches English to immigrants in Coachella, Calif. for Providence in the Desert, a ministry of Guerin Outreach Ministries.

For the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, serving a neighbor in need is not something that demands apology. Indeed, loving and serving those who are economically disadvantaged remains something worth pouring forth a life’s work, worth giving one’s whole heart and worth sharing one’s resources.

Guerin Outreach Ministries, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Providence, comprised of three ministries that serve those who are economically disadvantaged, understands this dilemma.

Each of the ministries was formed over the years by a Sister of Providence who saw a need and responded.

Retired Sister of Providence Mary Pat Peacock tutors a little girl after school at Educational/Family Services in Terre Haute.

Educational/Family Services in West Terre Haute provides tutoring and basic adult education.

Sister Margaret Quinlan saw residents of the community right outside the gates of her motherhouse struggling with poverty and lack of education. So she invited retired sisters and volunteers from the community and hired a small staff, including current director Penny Sullivan who ably took the reins upon Sister Margaret’s retirement, to help lift them up through tutoring.

Providence Family Services in Chicago provides counseling, after-school homework help, English-language instruction and citizenship classes to the largely Hispanic Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Volunteers help children with homework at the after-school homework club at Providence Family Services in Chicago.

Sister Patty Fillenwarth was a Catholic school principal in Chicago when she saw the need for affordable, bi-lingual counseling in her neighborhood. She returned to school to obtain a counseling degree, then came back to serve the neighborhood by founding Providence Family Services.

Providence in the Desert in Coachella, Calif. offers English-language instruction to immigrant field workers and music classes for their children.

Sister Carol Nolan sought out some of the poorest residents of the United States, Mexican immigrants working in the fields and factories of California. She went to them and asked them what it was they needed; she then gathered other sisters and formed Providence in the Desert to teach them to speak the language of their new country.

One advantage to having a band of sisters with a common love for serving those in need is the power that comes from collaboration. The collaboration began years ago when the Sisters of Providence raised donations specifically to establish a Ministry Fund endowment. Guerin Outreach Ministries benefit from this fund to staff three positions.

“Our ministries are to people without many resources and who need assistance to improve the quality of their lives,” said Sister Mary Beth Klingel, the Sisters of Providence general officer who relates to Guerin Outreach Ministries. “In each instance we are ministering to people who are underserved by our local, state and/or national governments. Many of those who benefit live on the fringes of our society. Through educational services the quality of their lives is improved.”

For more information about Guerin Outreach Ministries or for ways you can help, visit www.GuerinOutreachMinisties.org.

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Mission Advancement office. Amy is a 1998 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She currently manages the SP publication HOPE and works on marketing support for Providence Associates, new membership and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

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