HOPE fall 2015 — inSPiring seniors
InSPiring senior sisters
Inspired. It’s not hard to feel that way after spending time with “retired” Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Whether 77 or 97 years young, our elder sisters seem to reinvent themselves over and over as they age. They continue to live lives of service, prayer and presence at each life stage. We hope you enjoy this collection of stories highlighting just a few of the amazing, loving, useful ministries carried out by senior sisters and associates.
If acceptance of the reality of aging is difficult in my life at times and my attitude borders on complaining, I find it helpful to stress appreciation. I remind myself that all is gift — each moment, each hour, each day.
Sisters Nancy Nolan, Rosemary Nudd and Florence Norton share their wealth of knowledge of Saint Mother Theodore and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods with visitors as tour guides at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Here they share some of what the experience means to them.
“I hope and pray that we may one day be one church with racial equality, that the richness of the cultures will be shared with the entire church,” Sister Joseph Ellen said. “My journey in pastoral ministry has been very transforming for me. … I have had the privilege and opportunity of stepping inside another race, culture and hearts. I am truly blessed. The African-American community has enriched my life with their giftedness, spirituality, deep faith, trust, friendship and love.”
“We laugh a lot,” Sister Joni said. “I am thankful that Sister Regina has agreed to continue lessons with me. As long as I promise to practice.” Sister Regina Marie McIntyre has been giving music lessons to mission novice Sister Joni Luna for more than a year.
The novice rolls Sister Ann Kevin into the kitchen in her wheelchair and helps her put on an apron. Sister Ann Kevin goes straight to the recipe on the table and gets right to making suggestions about how to begin. It’s obvious she’s in her element. Sister Ann Kevin shares her wisdom, her life stories and her love of baking with Novice Sister Tracey Horan.
Passion for justice, love for neighbor and deep faith fuel the work at Providence in the Desert in southern California. Sister Carol Nolan (formerly Sister Mary Sheila) founded the ministry 13 years ago at age 69. The dynamic educator went to live among some of the poorest residents of the United States. She asked what they needed and made it happen. See the day-to-day ministry lived out in this photo album.
“I have been amazed by the rich friendships that are happening through my role all centered on Our Lady of Providence,” Sister Mary says. “It’s a growing role for me as more people share their love for her, and I love the international flavor of it.”
Learn how Jesus mother Mary came to be honored under the title of Our Lady of Providence, Queen of the Home, in a shrine at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Oh God, awaken within me the gift of these years.
Teach me to trust so I can face my fears.
Teach me to “be” so I can live …
“It’s overwhelming that another human being from another county who is in need puts so much confidence in us. But that’s a blessing. I’m not a psychologist, I’m not a doctor, but I have a good gut. I build them up. They leave a little more energized, a little more peaceful, knowing at least someone was there to listen to them,” says Sister Betty Smigla of her ministry as a “compañera” to Spanish-speaking clients seeking help navigating complex social systems in Chicago.
Among Sister Teresa’s volunteer ministries are offering massage to residents of the sisters’ health care facility and sorting vegetables for their Community Supported Agriculture program. Sorting vegtables takes Sister Teresa back to her childhood in Ireland. “I grew up on a farm, so it is very life-giving to me to get these foods ready for sharing and for selling at the Terre Haute Farmers’ market,” she says.
Providence Associate Ann Kevin Thesing says volunteering at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods feeds her. “It inspires me. It fills me up. It centers me,” she says. “It’s a chance to soak up the sisters. It inspires me to watch how they live with faith and trust no matter what. You see astounding things in health care,” Ann Kevin said. “It has just been an enormous gift to me.”
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