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Reinventing ourselves as Sisters of Providence

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Sister Cathy Campbell, at left, with her Providence Associate campanion from 2014, Jean Smith.

A college classmate who is now enjoying the fruits of her labors in retirement recently asked me when I was going to retire.

“Oh, Sisters of Providence don’t retire,” I said, “We just keep reinventing ourselves in response to the invitations of grace we hear from God in our prayers, in our conversations with trusted friends and spiritual directors, and most especially from the voices of the people of God who ask us to share our gifts and talents with them through our service in education, parishes, advocacy groups, and prayer with and for them.”

From days as a postulant in the 1960s, when I first heard Saint Mother Theodore Guerin’s famous quote, “This is the path traced by Providence and I follow it,” I have always experienced religious life as an adventuresome journey with the Christ, who continuously invites me to grow and reinvent myself as circumstances require.

When I entered the Sisters of Providence, I was a trained journalist and newspaper editor. Within a year, with God’s grace and the support of many SPs, I soon reinvented myself into a secondary school teacher ready to prepare a new generation of writers and editors.

After earning a Master’s degree in communications, the path of Providence led me to produce programs for a Catholic Television Network affiliate in Chicago and to serve as a consultant for the Office of Catholic Education. Then God’s voice invited me to become the editor of the Catholic New World and through relationships I developed there to reinvent myself once again by accepting the challenge of being the communications director for a province of the Society of the Divine Word, an international community of men.

At times along the path, inspired by God, I took lighthearted detours with another SP to minister as a storyteller, clown and puppeteer and to share original “Patchwork Parables” as homilies during family Masses at several parishes in Chicago.

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The just-published issue of the Sisters of Providence magazine, HOPE, highlights some of the amazing ways our senior sisters continue to reinvent themselves and inspire all of us. Read HOPE online here.

After more ministry in education and opportunities to minister collaboratively on boards and committees for national programs, I have now landed in the early years of my 7th decade back in the role of an archdiocesan consultant as I coordinate a safe environment program for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis designed to assure the safety of children.

I also serve as a caregiver for a good friend suffering from Alzheimer’s which has opened my eyes and heart to all who suffer from dementia.

Although I have had a number of wonderful, one-of-a-kind adventures following the path traced out by Providence, my story is not totally unique as you will discover when you read the variety of stories in this issue of HOPE. As women who have said an enthusiastic “yes!” to Providence, we Sisters of Providence share a wonderful history of being open to mystery and ready to journey in faith along the path of Providence until we cross the threshold into eternity. With our Providence Associates who now have joined us on this journey – we have, I think, many miles to go and promises to keep.

So, I ask myself, why would I want to retire when there are still so many possibilities of God’s Providence yet to enjoy just beyond the next horizon? It’s a no-brainer – I will just keep on listening to God’s invitations and saying “yes!”

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Sister Cathy Campbell

Sister Cathy Campbell, SP, is a freelance writer and editor. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Spirituality from Catholic Theological Union/Chicago. Sister Cathy also ministers as a retreat facilitator for the Providence Spirituality and Conference Center with special interests in scripture and the mystics.

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1 Comment

  1. Peg Benson on October 24, 2015 at 10:24 am

    So glad to finally get the details of your fascinating “career”. Your excellently penned write-up will inspire a meditation for us older journeyers and, I think, an inspiration to those in formation as way to approach the unknown future.

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