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Life lessons from the Sisters of Providence

Providence Associate Suzie Ray, left, with her mentor and friend Sister Rita Black.

Providence Associate Suzie Ray, left, with her mentor and friend Sister Rita Black.

It was the summer of 1980 and I was about to embark on my first part-time job as a nurse’s aide at the Sister’s of Providence Infirmary. I was a very inquisitive, carefree and rambunctious 20 year old looking forward to a new adventure. Little did I know then what type of life-changing adventure it would become!!!

A few months earlier, I had met Sister of Providence Rita Black who worked at the Catholic Student Center on Indiana State University’s (ISU) campus. She facilitated the process of getting me a job at the infirmary, along with one of my good friends.

On my first day of work, I met with Sisters Josephine Bryan and Mary Jo Piccione. I remember thinking to myself that they were all business and I had better be on my best behavior around them! It wasn’t long before I made many new friends with the sisters and nursing staff. They all had something to teach me and, although I had a somewhat distracted listening ear, I did hear them. I remember lessons of love, the value of relationships, appreciation in the little things and putting stress and worry in the hands of Providence.

While this knowledge was contained in my brain, it got buried in everyday life. After I graduated from ISU, I left the area to begin my new job. Life got busy and soon I had a job, a husband, and a young family to raise. Over the years life fast-forwarded and I found success in my career and traveled all over the world. However, it seemed that many lessons learned in my days at the Woods went to the wayside — I was a very stressed out, travel weary individual.

Providence Associate Suzie Ray at the Woods for the Providence Associate annual meeting visits with two of her first bosses again after 36 years. Sister Mary Jo Piccione, center, celebrates her golden jubilee and Sister Josephine Bryan.

Providence Associate Suzie Ray, left, at the Woods for the Providence Associate annual meeting, visits with two of her first bosses, Sister Mary Jo Piccione, center, celebrating her golden jubilee and Sister Josephine Bryan, right.

There was one constant during all those years — Sister Rita. I never lost touch with her and even managed to see her throughout the years. At a minimum, we would talk on the phone and catch up on each other’s lives. Every time I got off the phone with Sister Rita or visited with her, it would bring me back to Providence and those lessons learned at the Woods.

Not long ago, I made the decision to retire and start a new chapter in life. As part of this transition, I needed to get back to my core values and be more thoughtful on the daily steps I take forward. One of the first actions I took was to become a Provident Associate. It seems Providence keeps calling me back to the Woods.

After 36 years, I had the privilege of seeing Sisters Josephine and Mary Jo again while attending the Providence Associate’s annual meeting in late June. It was such a cool moment for me! I also got to spend time with my dear sweet friend Sister Rita.

It seems so fitting, here and now, to have seen Sister Josephine, Sister Mary Jo and Sister Rita during this trip. I have come full circle. I’m not 100% sure what the future holds for me, but I do know two things: 1) when seeking direction I often hear in my head, “What would Sister Rita do?” and 2) I carry with me Providence, the sister’s and all the lessons I have learned and continue to apply in my daily life to be a better me.

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Suzie Ray

Suzie Ray

Suzie Ray became a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence in 2014. She has a bachelor's degree in computer science/psychology from Indiana State University and a masters's degree in management from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. As a recently retired partner with Ernst & Young, LLP, Suzie is in transition spending time volunteering at hospice, quilting, hanging at the cabin and spending quality time with family and friends.

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  1. Avatar Joyce Smith on July 12, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Suzi captures the essence of charism of Providence and the strength of community! I am just writing my commitment statement as a candidate associate. Your words encourage me.and the love of the Sisters is manifest in our daily journey. Your blog is living fruit of our prayer of Reunion for me today!

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