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SPs honor benefactors at annual Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner


A focal point of the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner was a re-creation of the centerpiece which won the Sisters of Providence the “Best Centerpiece” from the Arts Illiana Tablescapes event.

Let’s face it: few among us enjoy getting gussied up on a warm Saturday evening for an indoor schmooze-fest. But our annual Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner is no ordinary party!

More than 220 donors joined the Sisters of Providence for an evening of love and laughs at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on Saturday, May 31.

Donors took long-necked peeks down dusty hallways of the under-construction Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and were some of the first visitors to see the front entrance of Providence Spirituality and Conference Center after a construction wall was removed. While still very much under construction, it was fun to see the looks on the faces of our visitors as they entered the newly-revealed space.

Inside O’Shaughnessy Dining Room, our benefactors were treated to conversation with friends, both old and new, and a program that featured — of all things to see at a convent — a fashion show!

The Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner is held annually to honor our donors, present the Queen Amelia and Sarah & Joseph Thralls Awards, and name the Rooted in Providence honorees.

The Helping Hands

The Helping Hands

The Helping Hands board president Shirley Herrington accepted the Queen Amelia and the Rooted in Providence awards from Sisters of Providence General Superior Sister Denise Wilkinson during the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner Saturday, May 31, 2014, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind.

This year, The Helping Hands, a secondhand clothing non-profit from West Terre Haute, Ind., received the Queen Amelia Award.

The Queen Amelia Award was named in honor of Queen Amelia of France. During a fundraising journey to France in 1843, Mother Theodore Guerin was granted an audience with Queen Amelia. The queen not only agreed to pay her passage home, but she offered to solicit in France for the desperate Congregation saying, “The King and my children shall contribute. I shall ask them for you.”

Like Queen Amelia, many of our constituents have offered their valuable resources to assist us in our ministries and mission. We believe it fitting to offer the Queen Amelia Award to an individual, family, foundation or organization who has made significant monetary gifts and gifts of time and talent to the Sisters of Providence and who has promoted the Sisters of Providence to others.

Each year, The Helping Hands assists the Providence Food Pantry, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Providence, with significant funds. Their 10-year support of the pantry totals $198,148.31! It is the largest cumulative gift supporting the food pantry.

The Helping Hands generates funds by using an all-volunteer workforce to sell donated clothing and household goods for less than $1. The funds they raise are distributed to worthy causes in West Terre Haute. From 2003 to 2013, their distributions totaled $628,225.66!

Queen Amelia came to the Congregation’s aid in very desperate times and Sister Joseph, the director of Providence Food Pantry, puts quite succinctly how much the monthly support of The Helping Hands means to her ministry, “Without The Helping Hands we couldn’t survive.”

The Helping Hands board members treated dinner attendees to a fashion show of evening attire made entirely of purchases from their store. The price of each outfit – including a silk blazer – ranged from about $1.50 to $3. The women sported their fashions in style.

Andrea Kozicki Pocica ’64

Andrea Pocica

Providence High School Alumni Association board member Andrea Pocica accepts the Thralls award from Sisters of Providence General Superior Sister Denise Wilkinson during the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner Saturday, May 31, 2014, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind.

The Sarah and Joseph Thralls award was given to Andrea “Andi” Pocica, a 1964 graduate of Providence High School in Chicago.

Sarah and Joseph Thralls welcomed Mother Theodore, the foundress of the Sisters of Providence, and her five companions into their log cabin when they arrived in 1840. They not only offered their home; they shared everything they had. The Sisters of Providence to this day are grateful to the Thralls family for opening their doors and their hearts to our foundress and her companions.

The Sarah and Joseph Thralls Award is offered to a constituent who has shared her or his time, talent and treasures with the Sisters of Providence — extending a supportive presence to the mission.

Andi has been involved on the Providence High School Alumnae Association board for more than ten years. The sole purpose of the association since the school’s closure in 1969 — 45 years ago — is to support the Sisters of Providence and our Retirement Fund. And do they ever! To date, the association has gifted the Sisters of Providence with more than $1 million! At a time when many of the faithful alumnae are older and beginning to run out of steam, Andi has stepped forward with her youth and enthusiasm, with her time and with her talent. She coordinates the copy for and printing of the association newsletter; she informs alums of pertinent information they need to know, keeps contact records up to date, even having “virtual” office hours every Friday morning and pretty much is the mainstay for events such as the annual luncheon.

Sister Marie Brendan Harvey, SP, coordinator for the Association says of her, “Andi is the driving force behind the PHSAA. Without Andi, there would be no association!” The current chairperson of the board frequently expresses gratitude and appreciation for all Andi does, for her generosity, hard work and her sense of humor.

Rooted in Providence

The Rooted in Providence recognition was named such because of the deeply rooted relationship benefactors have with the Sisters of Providence and our mission. Named on this recognition piece are the friends of the Congregation who have made significant financial gifts. These major donors are like roots of a tree in our behalf for they sustain, nourish and anchor us. Roots sink themselves deep into Earth and these donors have immersed themselves in furthering our life and mission. Their friendship, like roots, is deep, solid and far-reaching as they assist in furthering the mission of Providence, manifest in works of love, mercy and justice.

Four names were added to our Rooted in Providence plaque this year:

  • Anita Tiberi McMahon of Oak Brook, Ill., a 1961 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She and her late husband, Bill, have been particularly supportive of our Retirement Fund and the Capital Campaigns for Providence Hall and the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Shrine.
  • Margaret “Peg” Monahan has a long relationship with the Sisters of Providence: she graduated from Our Lady of Mercy Grade School in Chicago in 1950, her first knowledge of the SPs. Through the years she has had many sisters as close friends and Peg has generously supported everything we have done and has been particularly supportive of our sponsored ministries.
  • The Helping Hands of West Terre Haute, Ind.
  • The Larry Paul Fleschner Charitable Foundation, which honors the remembrance of Larry Fleschner who died of cancer in 2007. Larry’s generosity made possible the outdoor statue of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. His brother Steve and son Paul continue to support the Sisters of Providence from the Foundation.

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Rosie Blankenship

Rosie Blankenship is a graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She previously served in positions for the Sisters of Providence as the web site manager and annual giving manager.

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