Sister of Providence Nancy Nolan of “Here’s the thing, hon” fame with her Providence Associate Companion Amy Miranda at the first commitment ceremony Nov. 8.
My friend and predecessor as general superior, Sister Nancy Nolan, has many signature phrases or sayings. The one that comes to mind on this occasion is “Here’s the thing, hon.”
When I hear that I know I am going to get her take on what’s going on, a pithy observation that goes to the heart of whatever matter is occurring or being discussed.
I like the confidence of the statement.
“Here’s the thing, hon” is a far cry from my kind of weasely “Maybe what this means is…” or “I was wondering if what happened means….”
Nancy’s confidence mirrors the confidence Jesus acts from in today’s gospel story. Jesus comes back to his home town where everyone knows him (or thinks he or she does).
He proclaims an incredible message – “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me” and has in fact anointed me to ‘bring glad tidings to the poor…liberty to captives…sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed.’
Then he states – quite confidently – today “this Scripture passage has been fulfilled in your presence.” In other words, I am He, chosen of God, beloved of God who comes to save you, to show you the way, to allow you to change your hearts of stone to hearts of flesh.
Wow! Wow! What a wonderful knowing of one’s self! What a wonderful acceptance of one’s self. What bravery to follow the call to be who one is – in truth and freedom.
I believe that same claiming of self and of one’s place in the Sister of Providence and Providence Associate community happened here, in this Church on Thursday evening, October 30, 2014.
General Superior Sister Denise Wilkinson gives the reflection at the first commitment and renewal liturgy for Providence Associates.
On that evening, Donna Watzke – Providence Associate and a former Sister of Providence – gave the eulogy for Sister Jean Ann Daniel, a woman who was 65 years an SP.
“Here’s the thing, hon.” This claiming of self wasn’t only about Donna and Sister Jean Ann. This claiming of self was about a new moment in the Providence Associate – Sisters of Providence relationship. This moment – for me – broke some boundaries and created hope about our relationship with one another.
In her remarks, it was clear that Donna and Jean Ann had shared for years the charism of Providence. It was clear that at the heart of Donna’s life and Jean Ann’s life was their shared trust in Providence and their witness to that Providence.
It was clear in Donna’s words that only one thing changed about their relationship after Donna left the Sisters of Providence – their friendship grew deeper and deeper.
So, “here’s the thing, hon.” For me, Donna giving the eulogy for Sister Jean Ann honored a relationship begun, fostered and deepened by their shared willingness to allow the God of Providence to shape them as individuals and as friends.
For me, Donna giving the eulogy dissolved a potential barrier (only sisters give eulogies for sisters) and honored a circle of relationship much larger than Jean Ann and Donna.
Standing with Donna at the ambo as she delivered the eulogy were all Providence Associates and all Sisters of Providence.
For me, in the really very simple act of a Providence Associate giving a Sister of Providence’s eulogy, we completed and strengthened the ties, the links of a circle called unity with all who share the charism of Providence.
“Here’s the thing, hon.” Like most mysteries, like most authentic relationships, it’s not easy to describe or explain how deep and strong is the connection between, among those who share the charism of Providence.
As you make your first commitment or renew your commitment as Providence Associates, know that all Sisters of Providence and other Providence Associates stand with you, desire to support and encourage you. Know as well that we Sisters of Providence and all other Providence Associates count on you to stand with us to support and encourage us.
Praise God for the gift we share – the gift of the charism of Providence.
Director of Providence Associates Sister Diane Mason raises her hand in blessing over the new Providence Associates during the Nov. 8, 2014 commitment ceremony.
The newest Providence Associates of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. From front left: Jennifer Calvert, Donna Snelling, Traci Tucker, Marcy Meldahl, Jean Smith, Helen Flavin and Director of Providence Associates Sister Diane Mason. Second row from left: Amy Miranda, Tracy Biggs-Green, Marilyn Rausch. Third row from left: Charles Fisher, Jane Fischer, Suzie Ray, Terry Urban, Duane Drake and Marsha Bialaszewski. Back row from left: Assistant Director of Providence Associates Debbie Dillow, Tara Lane, Lorraine Scheidler, Rev. Rebecca Zelensky, Sarah Wilson, Susan McDowell and General Officer for the Sisters of Providence Sister Dawn Tomaszewski.
Jane Fisher and Donna Snelling carry remembrance candles during the entrance procession for the Providence Associates first commitment on Nov. 8, 2014, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Jean Smith, Sarah Wilson and Traci Tucker carry candles during the entrance procession for their commitment ceremony as Providence Associates.
Director of Providence Associates Diane Mason sings during the entrance procession followed by Sister Ann Sullivan and Rev. Rebecca Zelensky.
Sister Jody O’Neil prepares to carry a banner in during the liturgy’s procession.
Sister of Providence Sister Rosemary Borntrager declares her companion Jennifer Calvert, seated, ready to become a Providence Associate.
From left, Terry Urban and Marilyn Rausch make their commitments as Providence Associates.
From left, Providence Associates Tracy Biggs-Green and Duane Drake during the commitment ceremony.
Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, Sisters of Providence general officer relating to the Providence Associates, addresses those gathered during the commitment ceremony.
The Rev. Rebecca Zelensky makes her commitments as a Providence Associate.
From left, Sarah Wilson, Traci Tucker, Jennifer Calvert, Marsha Bialaszewski and Tara Lane make their first commitments as Providence Associates.
Helen Flavin, center, during the commitment ceremony.
Providence Associate Marilyn Rausch with her Sister of Providence Companion Sister Susan Dinnin.
Sister Lisa Stallings pins the Providence Associate pin on her Providence Associate Companion Traci Tucker.
Sisters of Providence Companions extend their arms in blessing over the new Providence Associates.
Amy Miranda, Marilyn Rausch and Terry Urban during the commitment ceremony.
New Providence Associates Lorrie Scheidler and Marsha Bialaszewski greet each other after making commitments.
A real hero: the husband of new Providence Associate Tracy Biggs-Green keeps their children ages 3, 2 and 1 quiet and away from mommy during the liturgy.
New Providence Associates, clockwise from left, Lorrie Scheidler, Tracy Biggs-Green, Amy Miranda and Suzie Ray prepare the altar cloth during Mass.
From left, Sister Maria Bui, OP, and Sister Emily Walsh receive the offeratory gifts from Marsha Bialaszewski and Marilyn Rausch as Helen Flavin, Jennifer Calvert and Marcy Meldahl place candles on the altar.
Sisters, Providence Associates and guests join hands during the praying of the Our Father prayer.
New Providence Associate Susan McDowell, center, offers those around her the sign of peace.
Providence Associate Tracy Biggs-Green fixes her three-year-old daughter’s hair after the liturgy as her Sister of Providence Companion Sister Rosemary Eyler looks on.
Sister of Providence Nancy Nolan of “Here’s the thing, Hon” fame with her Providence Associate Companion Amy Miranda at the first commitment ceremony Nov. 8.
Director and Assistant Director of Providence Associates Sister Diane Mason and Debbie Dillow bless the Providence Associates pins during the Oct. 21 ceremony for the Texas associates.
Sister of Providence Companion Sister Barbara Bluntzer pins the Providence Associate pin on Diana M. Garza during the ceremony Oct. 21 in Owens Hall Chapel.
New Providence Associates Diana M. Garza and DeAnna Havel of Texas sign their commitment statements during their commitment ceremony at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on Oct. 21, 2014.