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The Sisters of Providence go to St. Patrick School

Sister Mary Montgomery explains the meaning behind a cross to students at St. Patrick School.

Sister Mary Montgomery explains the meaning behind a cross to students at St. Patrick School.

“Today was fun.”

That was how Sister Mary Montgomery expressed a recent trip to St. Patrick School.

Sister Mary, along with Sisters Paula Damiano, Mary Ryan, Barbara Battista and Janice Smith, all traveled east through Terre Haute to St. Patrick School on Monday, Feb. 1, to discuss vocations with the school’s female students.

The visit coincided with National Catholic Schools Week.

The five sisters agreed to visit after Sister Joni Luna had invited them. Sister Joni ministers as the assistant principal at the school.

Sister Mary Montgomery has visited the school often this year.

“Two visits that come to mind are presenting on Saint Mother Theodore Guerin for two sixth-grade classes and assisting Sister Joni with an afternoon retreat in the church for first- and second-graders,” Sister Mary said. “I was there a few years ago with the little ones for Catholic School Week.”

This year, Sister Mary again met with first- and second-graders.

Sister Barbara Battista meeting with students at St. Patrick School.

Sister Barbara Battista meeting with students at St. Patrick School.

“There were a myriad of questions and comments,” she said. “Right away, one of the first-graders asked about my pin on my jacket (children around the world). I told them I pray for all children, including them – children of all different nationalities.

“I told them about our Sisters of Providence cross and the symbol for Christ in the world. And that we are all called to be our best selves and share our gifts with others. I talked about some of my ministries a little – teaching first-grade, with college students and missionary trips to El Salvador. They asked how many years I had been a sister and about the vows.”

At one time, Sister Paula ministered as a vocation director and was happy to be speaking again about life as a Sister of Providence.

Sister Paula Damiano shares a moment with a student at St. Patrick School.

Sister Paula Damiano shares a moment with a student at St. Patrick School.

“Sister Joni’s ministry is with the children at St. Patrick,” Sister Paula said. “They already knew about Mother Theodore. They had a field trip here to the Woods and love Sister Joni, so once they realized that Sister Joni and I have a ‘connection,’ they were very interested!

“It prompted them to ask questions about community life, as well as about the vows. I had third- and fourth-grade girls, who were absolutely alive, engaged, curious and sweet! Our discussion could have lasted another hour. They were so filled with questions. My favorite was, ‘What does your bedroom look like?’

‘It probably looks like yours,’ was my answer.”

Sister Paula added that reconnecting with St. Patrick School has been a blessing.

“I am absolutely thrilled that Sister Joni is making so much effort to get the Sisters of Providence engaged with St. Patrick School,” Sister Paula said. “The administration, faculty and staff are all so welcoming, dedicated and supportive.”

For many years, Sister Mary Ryan ministered as a librarian and worked with many children. On Feb. 1, she met with the 5-year-old students.

On Feb. 1, Sister Mary Ryan met with 5-year-olds at St. Patrick School as part of National Catholic Schools Week.

On Feb. 1, Sister Mary Ryan met with 5-year-olds at St. Patrick School as part of National Catholic Schools Week.

“I have done vocation talks in the past, but not with kindergarten,” she said. “They were a delight to be with. They were so enthusiastic and eager to ask and answer questions. I was so energized by my experience at St. Patrick. My talk was mostly about Anne Therese Guerin, using the picture book, ‘Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God.’

“We talked about what being a sister meant and the different ways the sisters serve God. I told them how I have served God. It was a challenge to me to talk about vocations with 5-year-olds, but I tried to bring it to their level, and I think they learned a lot, especially about Mother Theodore, the Sisters of Providence and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.”

Overall, Sister Mary Ryan said the discussion was invigorating.

“I have to say that being at St. Patrick School was a wonderful experience for me,” she said.

Since Sister Joni began her St. Patrick School ministry this year, she said several Sisters of Providence have assisted or supported various school functions.

Sister Janice Smith is escorted by a St. Patrick School student to her destination.

Sister Janice Smith is escorted by a St. Patrick School student to her destination.

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Jason Moon

Jason Moon serves as media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence. Previously, he spent more than 16 years in the newspaper industry.

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