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25-year old finds her community as a Providence Associate

Kaitlyn Willy with Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, her sister companion during the Providence Associate formation process.

Kaitlyn Willy with Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, her sister companion during the Providence Associate formation process.

“You cannot grow in faith alone: the relationship to God is horizontal as much as it is vertical. We find God in others and we often need others to find Him,” Providence Associate Kaitlyn Willy writes in a recent blog post.

In the excerpts from her blog post below, 25-year-old Kaitlyn shares about finding her community as a Providence Associate and living that out.

You’ve heard me mention them before. If you read my personal blog, you have heard even more. My identity as a Providence Associate is at the front of my being and I think it will be that way always.

Kaitlyn with Sisters of Providence General Superior Sister Denise Wilkinson during Kaitlyn's commitment ceremony as a Providence Associate in 2013.

Kaitlyn with Sisters of Providence General Superior Sister Denise Wilkinson during Kaitlyn’s commitment ceremony as a Providence Associate in 2013.

For me, being a Providence Associate gives me focus. As a Roman Catholic, living and preaching the Gospel (using words only when necessary) is a mission. But being a Providence Associate focuses that mission into a passion to spread the good news without acting superior. That passion becomes a call to share with others the importance of a deep trust in Providence, using the remarkable lives of great women like Mother Theodore Guerin as an example. If we are to trust in Providence, we must also listen to God in all the ways that he reveals himself. Creation is a part of that revelation and a part of our mission as stewards of the earth. Therefore, with this trust in Providence comes a love for all of creation, a desire for peace, and a special relationship with the earth.

The Community of Providence that I am a part of keeps this at the forefront of our work. The passion of the Sisters for what they call ecological justice (a term I never heard used until I met them, but when I heard it I immediately knew it was meant for me) is what drew me to them in the first place.

The process of becoming an associate was sweet to me. While some of the conversations that [my sister companion] Dawn and I had challenged me, I could not have asked for a more generous and gentle companion on the journey. In November 2013, when I finally made my commitment, I was beyond ready to wear the pin and make my commitment to the Providence Associates.

What does it mean to be a Providence Associate? We make specific commitments and general ones. My primary commitments right now are to teach about Mother Theodore and Providence Spirituality to my students here at Butler and to participate in the Retreat in Daily Life (a 30 week retreat through the Providence Center). I would say most of my commitment right now is being lived out at Butler.

Kaitlyn, second from right, with a group of students from Butler University on a spring break service trip at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Kaitlyn, second from right, with a group of students from Butler University on a spring break service trip at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

I have taken a number of students to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods over the last two years, whether on retreat, a mission trip, or simply dragging them along (albeit willingly). My students know Mother Theodore and they know her sisters, both the young and the more experienced. … there have been so many times that my students encountered Sisters of Providence that my kids now know many of them by name. Those that they don’t know by name, they sometimes know by reputation.

Living these callings is a part of my daily life — and this connects me with my sisters in a way that is just as real as my semi-daily recitation of the prayer of reunion.

As I prepare to leave Butler, I think that my calling as a Providence Associate will remain the same. Through UP Ministries (named, as you might have noticed, for the SPs—the UP stands for Unveiling Providence) and Spiritual Uprising, I will continue to be in ministry. And, wherever Providence calls me, there also the Providence Community will be. As with every community, in some way we each are a manifestation of the whole.

Providence Spirituality guides my work as a minister. This community has healed me and given me room to grow. Being a Providence Associate gives me a focus and a community that holds me accountable. I have a hard time pointing to where my relationship with the sisters affects my life because there is no part of my life not touched by this community.

Oh, and if what I have said about the Providence Associates interests you, check us out. We’re accepting applications.

Read Kaitlyn’s full blog post here.

 

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Kaitlyn Willy

Kaitlyn Willy has been a Providence Associate with the Sisters of Providence since 2013. A native of Missouri, Kaitlyn has a master’s degree in theology and is currently pursuing a doctorate in English with a concentration in environmental studies from the University of North Texas in Denton.

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