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Providence Circles: divine guidance around a central point

Sisters of Providence and Providence Associates gathered in June for a Louisville Area Circle. The Circle was hosted by the SPs at Providence Self-Sufficiency Ministries in Georgetown, Ind. Pictured (front row from left) Sheila Galvin, Joan Frisz, and Sister Eileen Bonner; (middle row) Sister Joanne Cullins, Sister Rose Virginia Eichman, Sister Brigid Bonner; (back row) Sister Nancy Reynolds, Tom O'Toole, Margo O'Toole, Sister Maria Smith and Sister Barbara Ann Zeller. Present but not pictured - Maria Price.

Sisters of Providence and Providence Associates of the Louisville Area Circle gather in June. Pictured (front row from left) Sheila Galvin,  post author Joan Frisz, and Sister Eileen Bonner; (middle row) Sister Joanne Cullins, Sister Rose Virginia Eichman, Sister Brigid Bonner; (back row) Sister Nancy Reynolds, Tom O’Toole, Margo O’Toole, Sister Maria Smith and Sister Barbara Ann Zeller. Present but not pictured – Maria Price.

In the context of my relationship as a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and as a member of a Providence Circle, I find the following definitions to be helpful in describing my experience.

prov•i•dence
noun \ˈprä-və-dən(t)s, -ˌden(t)s\
a often capitalized : divine guidance or care
b capitalized : God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny

cir•cle
noun, often attributive \ˈsər-kəl\
: a perfectly round shape : a line that is curved so that its ends meet and every point on the line is the same distance from the center
: a path that goes around a central point

As illustrated by the definitions above from the Miriam-Webster Dictionary, a Providence Circle could be conceived as “divine guidance on a path that goes around a central point.”

Providence Circles are small communities of Providence Associates, often grouped by geographic area, who gather for sharing, learning and community building.

Post author Providence Associate Joan Frisz, center, chats with sisters she has gotten to know better through her Providence Circle, including Sisters Hannah Corbin at left and Eileen Rose Bonner at right during a break time at the Sisters of Providence annual meeting.

Post author Providence Associate Joan Frisz, center, chats with sisters she has gotten to know better through her Providence Circle, including Sisters Hannah Corbin at left and Eileen Rose Bonner at right during a break time at the Sisters of Providence annual meeting.

To be in a relationship with the Sisters of Providence, one should get to know some of them. That is why the Providence Circle of Louisville has made it a priority to invite local Sisters of Providence to be part of our circle. As we attempt to understand our call to embody the charism of the Sisters of Providence, we have attempted to learn about the lives and ministries of the sisters in our area so that we might further understand what animates and motivates them to continue in their faithful service.

We have reflected on what it means to be a Providence woman. We have shared our gratitude and the inspiration we find from Saint Mother Theodore. In all these opportunities for sharing, we see the hand of Providence guiding us and calling us to walk together on this path that Providence has chosen for us.

The central point around which we gather is the mission of the Sisters of Providence: “to honor divine Providence … by devoting ourselves to works of love, mercy, and justice in service among God’s people.” While we are not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, through God’s guidance we share our gifts, reflections, experiences, and ministries of daily life so that we might follow the path that will bring us into communion with the Congregation and each other.

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Joan Frisz

Joan C. Frisz has been a Providence Associate since 2010, but her connection with the Sisters of Providence began in the womb. A graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Joan received her Master of Pastoral Studies degree from Loyola University in Chicago. She found her heart and her calling in Fair Trade and currently serves as the Executive Director of Just Creations, Louisville's International Fair Trade Marketplace, in Louisville, Ky.

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