Tracing Providence: a Providence Associate reflects
Perhaps the mere fact that I am writing this is itself an act of Providence. The process of reflection has required me to look back on my past and inspect what has always seemed like unrelated choices and coincidental events.
Almost twenty-five years ago, I chose to attend a small single-sex engineering college that I had never heard of before I applied. Within a week of classes starting, I attended a dance in a barn at an even smaller nearby women’s college out in the country. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods was a remarkably beautiful and peaceful place, much different from the more modern atmosphere of Rose-Hulman in Terre Haute, Indiana. A year later, I met and fell in love with a beautiful blonde Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College student who just happened to be from my rival high school back in Cincinnati. After Jennifer and I dated for three years, I graduated and moved to Chicago to start my dream job of traveling and visiting exciting, new places.
We were to be married after she graduated and live in Chicago. While occasionally exciting, traveling was exhausting and lonely. My grandmother was ill, I was homesick, and I couldn’t bear to travel and leave my new wife home alone and away from her family. I took a more sedate job back in Cincinnati and we were married in October of 1996.
Through the last nineteen years, there have been many choices and decisions. Do we have children? What church, if any, are we going to attend as a family? Free public education, or pay for Catholic school? What about my own personal faith? I was raised protestant, never baptized, and had not been active for many years. My oldest son, preparing for his first Eucharist, asked when I was going to be baptized. As I compared the true fundamentals of Catholic teaching to the harsher rhetoric I was raised in, I knew it was a better path for me.
As the boys grew older, Jennifer started returning more often to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, but now drove a little further back on campus and became a Providence Associate. While I had known the basic history of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, the Sisters of Providence, and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin’s remarkable journey into the wilderness, I didn’t understand the full breadth of the mission and charism of the Sisters of Providence. Love, Mercy, and Justice are fundamental commandments we are given by Christ, and here was a group of strong, resolute women who live that mission every day. I had long wanted to somehow give back to the world in a meaningful way. Meeting the Sisters of Providence and ultimately becoming a Providence Associate meant that in some small part, I could help become a purveyor of God’s Providence, not just a passive recipient.
A random choice, a chance encounter, a realization that a dream may not turn out as expected, and a child’s question all seem like unassociated events. Along the way, I have made many, many mistakes, so I certainly don’t feel that an omniscient God is pulling me on a guided string. However, I have fully realized how much God’s Providence has helped guide me to where I am today: a husband, a father of two remarkable young men, and a Providence Associate.
Beautifully written Duane. It has been such a pleasure watching you grow through the years into the fine man you have become. I wouldn’t be prouder of the man, the husband & the father you are to your family. You are a pretty great son-in-law too! I am so glad Providence brought you to our family. Love you!
Thank you, Duane, for sharing your remarkable Providence journey thus far. It is a powerful story! I had the pleasure of meeting you briefly last spring when you and Jennifer coordinated the Providence Associates booth at Earth Day. Again, thank you for all you do for the Associates, the SP’s and for sharing God’s mission with so many others.
This is so beautiful, Duane! Much love to you and Jennifer. Providence truly never fails!