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Journey of the Spirit: companioning a Providence Associate Candidate

Sister Cathy Campbell and her Providence Associate Companion Jean Smith.

Sister Cathy Campbell and her Providence Associate Companion Jean Smith.

Email invitations always intrigue me. For the most part, I delete them. I already have enough on my plate, I usually tell myself. However, in September 2013, when I saw the invitation in my inbox from Debbie Dillow, PA, assistant director of Providence Associates, to companion an associate candidate, I felt a strong nudge of the Spirit to open it and respond.

Sure enough by saying “yes!” to the invitation, I soon found my feet set on a path of Providence that would take me and the candidate I was companioning on a true journey of the Spirit.

On Nov. 8, that journey brought my candidate, Jean Smith, along with 19 other associate candidates and their companions to the Church of the Immaculate Conception for a commitment ceremony in which each one promised to continue to grow spiritually and to be a presence of God’s providence to others through the lives they lead. Two others made first commitments at other sites this fall.

When we began our journey a year ago, we were strangers. As we reach this milestone, we have become companions on the journey with a Provident God who often surprises us with twists and turns along the path.

We have studied integration units together on the story of how we experience God in our lives and about the charism and spirituality of Providence. In one unit, we explored practices of the Sisters of Providence. In another, we discussed relationships and commitment to living the gospel. Finally, we talked about mission and ministry.

To the conversation, I brought my lived experiences as a Sister of Providence, searching daily to discern Providence unfolding in my life. Jean brought her wisdom and spiritual depth as a wife, mother, recent widow, nurse, volunteer church musician, and a person with great empathy of spirit.

Each time we met, we prayed, shared a meal, and nourished each other with our reflections on the topics in the unit. At one point, we navigated through a life changing period in which Jean had hip surgery and discovered a unique call for herself in how to be a presence of Providence for others.

Jean recently told me that her journey enabled her to discern her mission to be an advocate for residents of the Robin Run Health Care Center “who have no family nearby or a voice to speak for them.”

“Rejoice with me as I continue my journey knowing that my Provident God has revealed to me how to bring love, mercy and justice to these dear people who often are in a world that seems dark for them,” Jean added.

For me the journey was like having a “third novitiate” in which I deepened my understanding and appreciation of what it means to be a vowed Sister of Providence. As we continue our journey, I am looking forward to more times of sharing with Jean as we explore our ongoing efforts to further the charism of Providence in the varied lives we lead.

I was so blessed by my experience this year, I recently said “yes!” to companioning another candidate in 2014-2015. Who knows where the Spirit will take us?

To learn more about Providence Associates, go to www.ProvidenceAssociates.org

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Sister Cathy Campbell

Sister Cathy Campbell, SP, is a freelance writer and editor. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Spirituality from Catholic Theological Union/Chicago. Sister Cathy also ministers as a retreat facilitator for the Providence Spirituality and Conference Center with special interests in scripture and the mystics.

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1 Comment

  1. Kristie Allen on November 11, 2014 at 8:44 am

    What a beautiful tribute to what God is doing in the lives of Providence Associates and companions. I look forward to this year with my sister companion and to learn what Providence planned for both of us.

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