Mel Marino Wolff: “Thank you for bringing us together!”
This Rooted for Tomorrow story was contributed by Mel Marino Wolff for the 175th anniversary of the Sisters of Providence arriving in Indiana.
There are so many ways in which I have felt the legacy of Mother Theodore and the Sisters of Providence. So rather than naming one or two experiences, I must say that the influence of Mother Theodore and her charism is a thread which runs throughout my life.
This started when my parents moved to Our Lady of Mercy Parish (Chicago), where the Sisters of Providence ministered as teachers, just in time for me to begin kindergarten. I attended there through 8th grade and gradually fell in love with the Sisters and stories of St. Mary-of-the-Woods. I then attended the Aspirancy and entered the Novitiate as a Postulant – sadly having to leave the Woods due to the illness and passing of my mom.
There were many changes over the following years, but I always felt a kind of longing for the Woods and a tug from that thread I couldn’t really describe. The strongest pull came during my discerning to be a Providence Associate. I attended a gathering of the Women in Providence in Chicago in 2007. Sister Mary Alice Zander gave an informal presentation about the Associate Relationship. I talked to her and Marilyn Neuman about being concerned that I didn’t have the time to be involved in “one more thing.” Sister Mary Alice told me that it wasn’t so much about spending more time but about looking at things in a different way. That settled it; two friends (Sharon and Sheila) and I soon applied.
I was lucky to be paired with Sister Nancy Nolan as my down-to-earth and reassuring companion, and through my discussions with her, readings about Mother Theodore and the community, and meeting more Sisters, Candidate-Associates, and Associates, the tug of that thread strengthened and in a way, became visible.
I made my first Associate Commitment in 2009, and since then, I feel more strongly attached to the whole Providence community and think of myself as one of Mother Theodore’s daughters. I am constantly amazed by the brilliance, kindness, humor, determination, and spirituality of Sisters, Associates, and others who share our charism of Providence. They inspire me to “Lean on Providence” and remind me to be a better person by sharing Mother Theodore’s legacy with all I meet, including my own students.
To this day, my closest friends (including BFF Anne) are those I met at the Woods about 50 years ago. Some are Associates and some are not, but we are all part of a whole weave of threads started by our favorite saint, St. Mother Theodore Guerin. On the day of the canonization celebration at the Woods, our group got together and highlighted our party with a cake topped with a picture of Mother Theodore and the words: “Thank you for bringing us together!”
That weave extends to friends and family, especially my two daughters and son-in-law (Amanda, Mara and Bob), who have their own attachments to the Woods – from visits, stories, and camping as kids. One of my brothers (Rod) even makes up parodies about the Woods for my Commitment ceremony days.
“Home” is the word or concept that many of us feel describes our tie to the Woods. I am so happy that the Providence thread, starting in my childhood, is still pulling me back Home!