Hospitality remains a strong charism of the SPs
August 30, 1967, was the day I entered the Sisters of Providence. The postulants and novices lived in Owens Hall, which was one of the newer buildings on campus. At some point during my first year here, the postulant director, then Sister Robert Ellen (who returned to her baptismal name, Joyce Brophy), asked me to make two signs that would read, “KEEP THIS DOOR CLOSED AT ALL TIMES. THANK YOU.” Dutifully, I made the signs which were posted on two doors in Owens Hall; those that lead out to the courtyard area.
Over the past 48 years I would return to the Woods from California or Chicago or Terre Haute and chuckle to find the signs in the same place, year after year. Now that Owens Hall is “closing”, the signs have taken on a whole new meaning for me. “KEEP THIS DOOR CLOSED AT ALL TIMES. THANK YOU.” It’s been anything but! The doors to Owens have never been closed! Instead, they’ve been open to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. The sisters living in Owens have OPENED the doors at all times to:
- sisters coming home from the missions,
- guests visiting the Woods,
- sisters’ family members,
- workshop participants,
- women and children visiting a family member at the federal prison,
- White Violet Center interns,
- Providence Associates,
- pilgrims to the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore.
Each visitor experienced a comfortable, quiet bedroom, decent meals, and perhaps, most importantly, a closer glimpse into the life and charism of the Sisters of Providence. Nearly every guest commented on the gracious, warm hospitality extended to them. It happened just last week when I showed one of our retreatants to her bedroom. Noticing that Sister Mary Ann Lechner’s bedroom was across the hall, I introduced the guest. Immediately, Sister Mary Ann greeted her warmly and took her down the hall to show her the kitchenette where coffee would be waiting each morning! A few years ago, a young pilgrim WALKED many miles to pray to Saint Mother Theodore. At Owens he found the open arms of the sisters there. They fed him; even washed his tired, swollen feet!
The sisters who lived at Owens Hall these many years can be credited with truly living our charism of generous hospitality. Thank you: for opening your home, for washing the sheets, for making the early-morning coffee, for being kind and welcoming! You never kept the door closed at any time! Thank you from the rest of us!