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A Christmas Reflection

“… give birth to God in one’s own life”

Sister Paula Damiano talks to a child during Christmas Fun at the Woods.

Being stationed at the corridor leading to the North Pole Zone, right across from Christmas Bingo and down the hall from face painting during Christmas Fun at the Woods was the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit.

Although I tried to personally greet every human great and small who came my way, I focused my special attention on those in mothers’ (or grandmothers’) arms. I had to be selective. We did, after all, have 600-plus people attend Christmas Fun at the Woods this year.

When Madeline came along in all her cuteness, I couldn’t stand it anymore, especially after her grandmother sighed about how heavy Maddie had become and how tired she was. Maddie came to me immediately, more entranced by the chain around my neck and the SP cross dangling from it than by any cooing sounds I made to indicate that I was someone safe.

It didn’t take long before I, too, thought Maddie was pretty heavy, and grandma needed to be on her way. But before they departed, I did invite Maddie to join the Sisters of Providence or at the very least attend Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

These kinds of moments of connection always fill me with joy and beckon me to the deeper meaning of Christmas. Here in this little bundle was Emmanuel – God with me.

God comes to me like this all the time.

Passing the torch to the next generation.

Last month, I was in Taiwan attending the 60th anniversary celebration of Providence University, the school founded in Taichung by our own Mother Marie Gratia Luking and her companion Sisters of Providence.

During one of a host of activities there, I received a lighted torch from the university’s president, Augustine Tang. With a stadium full of students looking on, I passed it off to a student who raced around the track and used it to light a cauldron. It was a very moving experience to be the physical link between the Sisters of Providence and the legacy of Mother Marie Gratia and the current university community. Literally, I passed on the torch to the next generation. Here in this moment was Emmanuel – God with me.

God comes to me like this all the time.

Sister Brigid Mary Hurley (front, far right) greeting former students.

In October, I attended the first annual Cheverus Catholic School Gala in Malden, Massachusetts. Surrounded by her family and a small but mighty group of Sisters of Providence, Sister Brigid Mary Hurley received the Father Patrick Hally Medal for outstanding service to the school, its students and families. An alumna of the school herself, Sister Brigid Mary taught there for 16 years.

Far greater than the award was the steady stream of former students coming to her to say thank you, to introduce her to their own children, to ask for her prayers for them and their families. If you had ever visited Sister Brigid’s classroom, you would know what a demanding teacher she was. You would also know that those demands were wrapped in loving kindness and deep respect for each child. Right there in Malden, Massachusetts, God was with me in the person of my own sister.

Writer and Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio says it this way: “Christian life is a commitment to love, to give birth to God in one’s own life.” Or, in the words of the season, “Oh Come, oh Come, Emmanuel.”

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Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski was elected General Superior of the Sisters of Providence in 2016. She has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. Previously she ministered as a teacher, as communication and development director for the sisters and their ministries and as a member of elected leadership on the general council of the Sisters of Providence.

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5 Comments

  1. Paula Modaff, S.P. on December 20, 2016 at 9:21 am

    What can we say, Dawn? You see God coming to you in all kinds of ways all the time. May it be so for all of us. Thank you!

  2. Paula Damiano, SP on December 20, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Indeed, God comes – in Taiwan, at the Woods, in Malden, in quiet and in the chaos! Thanks!!

  3. Jane Fischer, PA on December 20, 2016 at 11:02 am

    God comes to the SP PAs also through the never-ending teaching and sharing given by you and the dear Sisters of Providence. Little did I know how my spirit would be renewed through this blessed relationship. My favorite three words: Thank you, Sister!

  4. Cynthia MacWhorter on December 20, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    The blessings and love from the Sisters of Providence continue into so many lives in so many ways! In light of all the rancor and hate in the world, the Sisters continue to bring me back to what is TRUE. Thanks, to each of you and especially to you Dawn for your future as a person of real leadership.

  5. Cathy Campbell, SP on December 22, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks for reminding us that Emmanuel is there in front of us wherever we turn. May we have the eyes to see and the heart open to welcome the mystery of God’s presence ever with us. Peace to all.

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