True to the calling: Providence Associate Joan Frisz
What drew you into the Providence Associate relationship and what continues to call you forward as an associate?
I could answer this question in five syllables. The short answer is that I love the Sisters of Providence.
I have a life-long relationship with the Sisters of Providence. As I like to say, my relationship began in the womb. My mother’s best friend growing up was [Sister] Joan Klega. I was named after her. I was educated by the SPs in elementary school at St. Patrick’s School in Terre Haute and at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
There is probably no group of people that I admire and respect more than women religious. They have formed me, nurtured me and loved me. They continue to challenge me, teach me, and inspire me. This relationship as a Providence Associate gives me the opportunity to honor my heritage, while at the same time exploring ways of engaging my spirituality and growing in my relationship with others and with God.
Six years ago I was completing a 20-week Engaging Spirituality program and it was time to discern next steps. It was at that time that I applied to be a Providence Associate, as this seemed the natural next step to continue to engage and grow and learn.
My desire to be a Providence Associate was rooted in my desire to live an authentic life that is consistent with my values and true to the calling from my God. This relationship continues to challenge and call me in this direction as I learn more about the Congregation and its ministries, and find ways that I can help to further the mission. It is about trusting in God and the direction that is given to my life by God.
As an associate, how do you advance the mission of Providence in your own corner of the world?
In my little corner of the world, I am the executive director at Just Creations, a not-for-profit Fair Trade store in Louisville, Kentucky. I volunteer my time at St. John Center for Homeless Men. I use my gifts at my parish — I do a little preaching and I count the collection (I have mean math skills!) And I have done a little consulting with Linden Leaf Gifts at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
When I found Fair Trade, I found my heart and my calling. I believe that the values of Fair Trade mirror the values of Providence and the Sisters of Providence. The Fair Trade principles include advocating for fairness for the poorest of the poor in working conditions and wages, gender equity and the empowerment of women. In environmental stewardship and in respecting the rights of children and preserving cultural traditions. All this rooted in long-term, transparent relationships.
How do I see myself contributing to the legacy of Providence? My desire to make a difference in this world by making a difference in individuals’ lives continues to drive me. That will be my legacy and I believe that that is, in part, the legacy of Providence.
(During the recent annual meeting of the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, a panel of five Providence Associates of the Sisters of Providence each shared what drew them to the Congregation and how they live out the mission of Providence. Over the course of the next several weeks, we will share those Providence Associates’ reflections here as well. You can learn more about the Providence Associate relationship with the Sisters of Providence at www.ProvidenceAssociates.org.)