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My walk with Our Lady of Providence

jenny and family

Jenny Nowalk’s mom, Jane Taylor, with her two granddaughters and two great grandchildren. This makes four generations of Jenny’s loving family.

My walk with Our Lady of Providence began when I sent a prayer request to Sister Marie Kevin who received requests for the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.  Sister invited me to visit the Woods. I responded by bringing my husband and two of our five children in March of 2007.  I never “left” the Woods. The Woods and Mother Theodore’s Daughters of the Woods embraced me and my family!  By May of 2007, I was carrying a key chain with medals of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and Our Lady of Providence. The prayers and reflections for Saint Mother Theodore and Our Lady of Providence from the Sisters of Providence website, spoke to my soul. Two years of inquiry went by and in November of 2009, I celebrated my initial commitment as a Providence Associate.

The “other shrine” at the Woods, the Our Lady of Providence shrine, has been a surprisingly fundamental part of my spiritual journey.  Before discovering Our Lady of Providence, I had longed for a realistic image of Mary, one that would speak to me where I stood.  As a middle-aged mother of five children, the years ahead looked to be challenging, to say the least. There was no time or space for anything less than a firm ground to stand on! Our Lady of Providence and Saint Mother Theodore provided that ground!

Today I have two wonderful son-in-laws and three grandchildren and I continue my teaching career in the public schools. What Our Lady of Providence has given me through the reflections and prayers written by the Sisters, is a sense of Mary always being present to me. When I go to work, Mary represents love without conditions. Through her presence I can, as Mother Theodore teaches, love the children first, then teach them. Mary represents a woman familiar with hardships, with poverty and with challenges; I place my students and myself in her hands. Surely what I deal with is not beyond her understanding or experience! Mary understood that interdependence is both treasure and gift!

Jenny-Nowalk-for-webWhen my own children call me with joyful news, fearful situations, or the daily challenges of living their everyday lives, I place them in the hands of Our Lady of Providence.  As Mary surrendered to what was not in her control, I surrender my children and myself over to her care. I know she too dealt with the tensions of bewilderment, excitement, confusion and trust. Mary co-created family by being open to possibilities, while living in ordinary circumstances. Mary lived real life. Yet she raised God’s only son. Her courage, her reverence of life, her ordinariness raises the dignity of all women. The optimism and hope for my children, their spouses and my students stems from Our Lady of Providence being present to me. I am so grateful Providence heard my prayers and answered!

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Jenny Nowalk

Jenny Nowalk of Culver, Indiana, has been a Providence Associate since 2009.

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1 Comment

  1. Sheila Kathleen Donis on August 12, 2015 at 7:20 am

    I have known Jenny to be a most wonderful special education teacher. She is a kind, warm, and loving person. Her words in the blog ring true to the way she has lived. I feel privileged to be her friend!

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