Belonging with the Sisters of Providence: Providence Associate Marilyn Rausch
What drew you into the Providence Associate relationship and what continues to call you forward as an associate?
I have known the Sisters of Providence all my life. Some of my early childhood memories include coming to the Woods to visit my great aunt, Sister Mary Agreda. I remember standing on the gigantic (to me) tree roots and singing “Que sera, sera.” (Rather a Providential song!!)
I was educated by the Sisters of Providence at St. Joseph School in Jasper, Indiana, in grade school. I then entered the Aspirancy (a high school at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for girls considering becoming sisters) in 1961. After graduation, I entered the Congregation (the Golden Jubilee band of 1965). I stayed with the community for about nine years. Why I left is still a mystery to me. I can only say that there was a restlessness that must have come from the Spirit. Leaving was a much more difficult decision than coming in the beginning. I was left with a deep sense that even though my life took a different path, I still “belonged” with the Sisters of Providence.
Becoming a Providence Associate completed a circle, returning to the roots that nourished me even when I was in a different space. The spirituality and witness of the Sisters of Providence is a magnet that continues to attract and hold close the depths of my heart. Returning as an associate is like coming home.
As an associate, how do you advance the mission of Providence in your own corner of the world?
During my year as a candidate Providence Associate, I pondered over what I would do differently as an associate. I already had a busy life and realized that in order to add something new I would have to give up something that I was already doing. I heard Saint Mother Theodore’s words: “We are not called upon to do all the good that is possible, but only that which we can do.” It became more real that it was not about changing WHAT I was doing but HOW I was doing what I already did.
Three points come to mind.
1. Try to live more intentionally the virtues of love, mercy and justice. HOW I do what I do becomes a visible reflection of WHY I am doing it.
2. Be Present to the Presence in the present. Sometimes, things do not go the way I think they should. My plans fail. But in the end, it is not about my plans at all. If things do not happen as I think they should, then perhaps that is because God’s plans are better. I suspect that is why my life has moved in the direction that it has taken.
3. Draw support from others who bear the charism of Providence. Being associated with the Sisters of Providence provides a powerhouse of strength in witness and prayer. I face nothing alone, but as part of a Community of faithful women who draw their energy from the truest source.
Specifically, I babysit my grandchildren and I work within St. Michael Church.
As a grandmother, I am awed by the simple love and the potential that those lives embody. Being with them allows me to share the gifts that I have been given with them, hopefully imprinting the “charism of Providence” in their hearts.
At St. Michael’s, I am a member of the Spiritual Life Commission, train the lectors and Eucharistic ministers, and participate in the bereavement committee (prayer shawls, mercy meals). After our Lenten ecumenical prayer with three other local churches, we decided to pursue an ecumenical outreach program to increase the faith and strength of our neighborhood, a program that will begin in the fall. And most recently, I have been asked to help develop a monthly Taize Prayer in our parish, to start in September. Retirement affords more flexible time to be able to participate in these programs.
I asked my husband Mike what he sees different in me now as opposed to before I became a Providence Associate. His succinct response was, “Your batteries are recharged.”
How do you see yourself contributing to the legacy of Providence?
1. Uniting with the sisters in prayer. Using the alarm on my cell phone as a trigger, I try to pray the Reunion prayer on arising, at noon and at 6:00 pm, as a reminder that I am not alone in what I do.
2. I participate in three different Providence Circles, sharing and witnessing with other Providence Associates to build up our bond in Providence. This is a great source of strength and encouragement, and promotes the feeling of community.
3. Living as consciously and fully as I can the mission of love, justice and mercy in my everyday duties.
4. Accepting the call to do visible work with and in the Sisters of Providence community and the Providence Associates, such as serving on the Providence Associates advisory board, on the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin FEST committee and volunteering at various programs.
(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. You can find other such reflections here and here. Learn more about the Providence Associate relationship with the Sisters of Providence at www.ProvidenceAssociates.org.)