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Lori Strawn, Wichita, Kansas: “Into these Woods”

This Rooted for Tomorrow story was contributed by Lori Strawn, Wichita, Kansas, for the 175th anniversary of the Sisters of Providence arriving in Indiana.

Only Providence could have propelled a young girl from California who had never met a Sister of Providence, let alone set foot in Indiana, to a decision that changed her life: Accepting a scholarship to a small, Catholic school called St. Mary-of-the-Woods. This is my story.

I came to The Woods knowing no one. But quickly I began to find my way. I was not the only “new girl” — Sister Barbara Doherty began her tenure as President of the College my Freshman year. I won a poetry contest celebrating her inauguration. We became friends. When she visited California, she had lunch with my mother, who still speaks admiringly of her.

As an English major, I was warned that Sr. Rosemary Nudd was a tough teacher. I found her utterly delightful, and she became my mentor and lifetime friend. More recently, she was my Companion as I became a Providence Associate.

Sr. Dawn Tomaszewski was my professor of journalism. All of these years later, she can still tell you about the article I wrote about my summers working at Disneyland! Now that I am on the Advisory Board for the Providence Associates, Dawn and I have opportunity to see each other more often, a wonderful “perk” of the job.

I’ve gotten to know many of the sisters over the years, including Sr. Barbara Bluntzer, Sr. Brigid Bonner, Sr. Teri Grasso, Sr. Carole Kimes, Sr. Kay Manley, Sr. Diane Mason, Sr. Ellen Cunningham, Sr. Connie Kramer, Sr. Marceline Mattingly, Sr. Lisa Stallings and many, many more. Each holds a unique and precious place in my heart. The Sisters of Providence have taught me, but more than that, they have fundamentally changed my life. I am so very blessed that Providence led me halfway across the country, up a hill, and into these Woods — our Woods.

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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