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“Mother Feodore is my girl”

Providence Associate Michelle Davis volunteers greeting visitors and directing them to the Gift Shop in Owens Hall at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Providence Associate Michelle Davis volunteers greeting visitors and directing them to the Gift Shop in Owens Hall at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

“This is one of my favorite places on Earth,” says Providence Associate Michelle Davis recently on a Saturday afternoon at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind.

Michelle is sitting inside the entrance to Owens Hall, reading a good book. As visitors arrive she greets them and directs them to the temporary location of the Sisters of Providence Gift Shop just down the hall.

Michelle is originally from Paris, Ill. and now resides in nearby Terre Haute, Ind. She first began to feel at home at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in the 1990s when she came as a student mom to study at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC).

The former Michelle Hollis and her young daughter found a life-giving environment here. Michelle found herself drawn to the Sisters of Providence and their spirituality. The art and the stained glass drew her in and helped her feel the presence of God. In the years following Michelle’s graduation from SMWC, she joined the Catholic Church.

Michelle currently lives in Terre Haute with her husband and her 10-year-old daughter, Maddie. Her older daughter, Kelsey, who originally accompanied her mom to college at SMWC, is now herself a student at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

Michelle loves living physically close to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. This past November she made her first commitment as a Providence Associate.

Michelle Davis, left, met regularly with her Providence Associate Companion Sister Ellen Cunningham during her year-long formation as a Providence Associate.

Michelle Davis, left, met regularly with her Providence Associate Companion Sister Ellen Cunningham during her year-long formation as a Providence Associate.

“It’s a good way to be connected with the Sisters of Providence and be a part of their mission. I’m happy to help the sisters any way I can,” Michelle said of the associate relationship.

In today’s society it’s too easy to have so much going on that you lose focus of anything outside yourself. Being a Providence Associate calls you to not be so focused on yourself, to instead pay attention to what you can do for others, Michelle said.

It’s also a connection to Saint Mother Theodore Guerin that draws her.

“I love Mother Theodore. Every day my younger daughter and I talk about her. It’s great to be a part of her legacy,” Michelle said.

“When my daughter was little she used to call her ‘Mother Feodore,’ so we still call her that,” Michelle said.

“Once my daughter told me, ‘Mother Feodore is my girl.’ ‘She’s mine, too,’ I told her.”

Michelle Davis, third from right, makes her commitment as a Providence Associate in 2013.

Michelle Davis, third from right, makes her commitment as a Providence Associate in 2013.

Michelle relates that her daughter has sensory issues and she feels very nervous in places with high ceilings. So the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods is a challenge for her. So when Maddie goes there, she sits near the big banner of Saint Mother Theodore. Keeping an eye on Mother Theodore helps her feel safe.

Michelle said she tries to assist the sisters with their ministries as she can. When she received a recent email from Sister Becky Keller, director of volunteer services for the Sisters of Providence, looking for volunteers to spend some hours greeting and directing Gift Shop visitors, Michelle thought it sounded like a great way to spend a Saturday, in one of her favorite places.

Michelle said she is also passionate about caring for the environment, another way she lives out the Sisters of Providence charism. She also belongs to a Providence Associate Circle that meets once a month at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. With that group she helped to clean up the grotto at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and hopes to clean up other outdoor shrines this spring. “That was lots of fun,” Michelle said.

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Advancement Services 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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