Deep love and healing
To hear Ezra Kyle Meadors talk about his history with the Sisters of Providence is to feel his deep love for the community, Mother Theodore and the sisters and his gratitude for the strain of Providence running through his life.
Though he’s known the sisters since 2006 and has been a Providence Associate since 2012, Ezra did not originally plan to spend this time as an intern at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice. “God always gets us where we’re supposed to be,” he said, quoting a letter Sister Marianne Ridgell sent him when he was applying for the internship.
Ezra’s journey with the Sisters of Providence started when he was 21, shortly after his father’s death. He received a notice that his father had been enrolled in the Blessed Sacrament Association, a ministry of prayer offered by the Sisters of Providence. He had no idea what this was and had never heard of the Sisters of Providence, so he wrote to Sister Mary Roger Madden. She replied that the donor wished to remain anonymous. “To this day,” he said, “I have no idea who it was. No idea.”
Sister Marie Kevin Tighe also reached out to Ezra during this time. She sent him a long letter, a copy of Mother Theodore Guerin’s Journals & Letters, and three Sisters of Providence history books. Then she sent another letter, in which she also mentioned that she had Ezra’s father’s name in her pocket during the canonization of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, just four months after his death.
Still grieving over his father’s death, he responded with a thank-you, answered her questions, but left no room for a reply. “I wasn’t looking for a pen pal. But the thing with Marie Kevin is that she never stopped.”
Years went by, and Ezra finally read Journals & Letters. He fell in love with Mother Theodore. “There are a lot of saints that I admire, that I think have good qualities, but nobody that really just stuck out as ‘Yes!’ except Mother Theodore Guerin.”
After a few years, Ezra joined the Claretian Volunteer program and began working for the 8th Day Center for Justice, where he met Sister Kathleen Desautels. He was shocked to be working with a Sister of Providence and, especially, to be as close to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods as he was. At this point in his story, he interjected, “Now I don’t know if you’re yet seeing the thread of Providence in the story. From my father’s horrific death, through all of this, there has been Providence.”
While working with Sister Kathleen, Ezra made his first visit to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and joined the Providence Associates. Since that first visit, Ezra has been a frequent visitor to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and an integral part of the Providence community in Chicago. But, he said, “I’ve never been here for an extended period of time … I never really, until now, got to really experience the density of this place, the holiness of this place.”
It took another tragedy to prompt Ezra explore the White Violet internship. On June 12, his friend Drew was killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. “I felt a great need to go away and disconnect,” he said.
In addition to his responsibilities on the farm working with the chickens, alpacas and organic gardens, the internship has been an opportunity for Ezra to live out his commitment as an Associate to connect more with the sisters and the community. Even his work is holy in its connection to the history of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. “I stop often,” he said, “and I think ‘I bet you anything that Mother Theodore picked carrots right here. Right here. She was right here.’”
Ezra uses his time here to pursue healing. “I go and see Ma Mère [French for “My Mother”] every morning,” he said. “Often Drew comes into my mind, and I just like to picture him resting in the hands of Providence. Because Mother Theodore always said, ‘Place yourself gently …’ Drew didn’t get to place himself. He was kind of plopped down, but now just resting in the hands of Providence. How marvelous is that? Resting where my dad is, where my Uncle Ronnie is.”
When he’s done with his internship, which will end this summer, “I will go back to my Chicago Associate family.”