Congratulations to the 2016 gold and silver Jubilarians
Editor’s note: Below is the reflection givien by Sister Denise Wilkinson at the Jubilee anniversary celebration on June 25, 2016, of the four Sisters of Providence pictured with general officers above. See the photo album of the day here.
Happy Golden Jubilee, Sisters Cathy, Linda and Mary Jo! Juk mun nyan kan, My o – u.
Three of you began your journey of religious life in the United States in 1966. That year, Lyndon Johnson was president. Russia, France, Britain and Canada all conducted nuclear tests. Race riots broke out in Atlanta. President Johnson sent a letter to Congress asking them to enact gun control legislation.
The United States and Vietnam were at war with each other. Riots and protests against the war were rampant. Calls for peace and an end to the war dominated the U.S. news.
My Huong, you were born in 1970. You began your journey of religious life in 1991, entering a Dominican congregation in Vietnam.
As Providence would have it, in 1998, you became the first Vietnamese Dominican sister to come to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to live with us in community and to attain your Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 2002.
That experience led you to seek transferring to the Sisters of Providence. You are in that process now. Yet, how could we not celebrate the 25 years of religious life you have lived with both your sisters of Saint Dominic and your Sisters of Providence?
Given the historical times of all four of your lives, the readings you’ve chosen hint at the lens through which you view the world, your place in it as your own persons and as women religious.
Linda, you minister as coordinator and registered nurse supervisor in a retirement community setting, ensuring elders receive the care and attention they deserve.
Mary Jo, as a hospital chaplain, your healing attentiveness to those who suffer physical and emotional pain incarnate the care of a loving God.
Cathy, as coordinator of the Indianapolis Archdiocese’s Circle of Grace, you insure the safety of all children in the Archdiocese through education, outreach and care for all persons.
We celebrate, My u-o, the tenderness with which you minister to all residents of Providence Health Care as a Minister of Care.
All four of you answer the call of Jesus to reach out, to touch those longing for a deeper friendship with the Holy One. You touch those who mourn and those meek persons hungering for what rightfully is theirs though they are pushed to the sidelines by would-be leaders.
To help you stay true to your calling, you surround yourselves with others who seek justice, who work for peace, who show mercy with nothing expected in return. Your ministries free you to “rejoice and be glad.”
Yet, like our Mother Theodore, you know no one’s life is without its sufferings, its crosses. Her hope for us was that Providence “never deprive us of this precious mark (of the Cross) which distinguishes the children and the works of Providence.” We may have difficulty deriving our hope “from our utter incapacity,” as did Mother Theodore.
We live in an age of self-improvement programs, sure-fire diet schemes and a need to need more and more. Our culture, we ourselves, don’t want to stake outcomes on our incapacities.
So it jolts us to hear our foundress assert with confidence that “it is upon nothingness that God is pleased to rear (God’s) works.”
Yet, I know you jubilarians rely on and experience the Providence of God that “never fails us.” Otherwise, why would you remain faithful to 50 years as Sisters of Providence and to 25 years of fidelity to the life of a woman religious?
I know too that you jubiliarians – and the rest of us here – have had times of not being sure we are being held in the hands of Providence – no matter how gently we try to place ourselves there.
Perhaps in those times we can find comfort in the words of Paul. Paul is “sure that the One who began a good work in (us) will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Too, Paul expresses his love for the Philippians openly and with deep emotion. May we show that same love and affection to one another, to all Earth’s people and to the entire cosmos.
Let us have the audacity to “yearn for (one another) with the affection of Christ Jesus.” Let us, with complete sincerity and a deep desire pray for (one another) “so that (our) love may abound more and more.”
Jubilarians – Cathy, Mary Jo, Linda and My Huong, your very selves, your gifts, your passion for ministry, your fidelity to our vows help us – your Sisters of Providence, your friends, family and ministry partners – to believe as you believe – “the Providence of God has protected us until the present and will provide for our future needs.” So, like the four of you, “we will not give way to uneasiness about the future.”
Happy Jubilee! Juk mun nyan kan.
Sister Denise Wilkinson