A place to belong: Providence Associate Tara Lane
What drew you into the Providence Associate relationship, and what continues to call you forward as an associate?
The practice of prayer was what drew me to the Sisters of Providence. Some years back I was working in Terre Haute’s City Hall for redevelopment. Working for government will drive you to prayer. I knew Linda Edwards. She was a past director of Providence Center. I asked her how I could connect with the sisters for prayer requests. She brought me to the Woods for a tour and showed me all the places that intentions could be noted. There were a bunch of places.
I was invited to join the Providence Associates program when it first started. But the timing wasn’t right. After life settled, I considered the program again. The fact that this is non-denominational was very appealing to me. What rich conversations could come from this group! I went to the Sisters of Providence gift shop and bought a stack of books. If I was going to connect with these girls, I needed to know what I was getting into. I knew this was a wonderful place. I didn’t realize it came at a very high price until reading the history.
What keeps me here is the cutting edge spirituality of the Sisters of Providence. By this I mean concepts like looking at God through the lens of our ever expanding understanding of the universe. The idea of divine entanglement with us. Sister Arianne introduced me to Field of Compassion by Judy Cannato. It changed my life. The spiritual concepts the Sisters of Providence explore let God out of the box. It is liberating.
I never felt like I belonged anywhere until now.
As an Associate, how do you advance the mission of Providence in your own corner of the world? How do you see yourself contributing to the legacy of Providence?
As the employer relations coordinator in the career development office at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, I proactively attempt to increase connections between the Sisters of Providence and the College. I would walk by Sister Rosemary Nudd’s office there every day at least once a day. When she went on leave, I missed her presence so much. I look for ways to maintain that presence of the sisters at the College. Sister Editha Ben, Sister Diane Mason and Providence Associate Debbie Dillow have attended career events to represent the associate program and religious life to our students. The director of general studies on campus uses “The Practices of the Sisters of Providence” as a text book. She is also interested in Sister Rosemary doing tours with the new students.
I have a lot of random information in my head. Need information on mid-century modern antiques? Need help with housing research? If there is anything in my brain that’s useful to the Sisters of Providence, they are welcome to it (before it collapses).
I’m still working on the mission thing. A few weeks ago Father Dan Hopcus did a shorter than normal homily at Mass at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. He concluded with, “What is your mission?” Then he just sat down. “What am I supposed to do with that?” I thought. I don’t have that figured out yet.
I have concerns with the shrinking numbers of the Congregation. These girls have ministered their whole lives. There is a great group of young sisters coming in. I believe the numbers will come back. Until that happens, I want to help minister to the sisters. I had a rough patch last winter. The Sisters of Providence literally carried me through that. If there is anything I can do to help them, I will.
During Q & A, after the panel presentation, comments came from the sisters about pressure to live up to our reverence of the Congregation. I would like to say, there is nothing to “live up to.” My reverence, my respect is for how you live. It is for what you already are. It is what your practices have made you. This is the outcome of God’s entanglement with each of you individually. You gift us by simply sharing your authentic selves. I thank you for that.
(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.)