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Miracle Place: a beacon for the neighborhood

The bright blue facade of the Miracle Place house and its adjacent Community Center in the 900 block of North Temple Street radiate both light and hope to residents of this Indianapolis neighborhood. For the people here, most who daily face the darkness and challenges of poverty, that hope can be hard to find.

In this East 10th/North Rural street neighborhood “per capita income of residents is lower here than that found in 99.2 percent of neighborhoods in America. 68.1 percent of the children in the area live in poverty. In a nation where approximately one in four children grows up in poverty, this neighborhood stands out for The depth of the problem manifested here,” according to neighborhoodscout.com.

Sisters of Providence Barbara McClelland, SP (formerly Sister Mary Barbara) and Rita Ann Wade (formerly Sister Rose Annette) wanted to be present and of service among the families of this neighborhood. That drew them to open Miracle Place as a ministry of the Sisters of Providence in 2000. It offers presence and Programming for all ages.

Middle schoolers learn math facts during Academic Olympics from Sister Rita Ann as they study in the gathering space of the new Miracle Place Community Center.

According to the two sisters, “the mission of Miracle Place is to offer hospitality, care, and concern. It is a place of spiritual refreshment where all who come may find refuge. Where all who are severely tried may be comforted. Where all who are lonely may find companionship. And where those without hope may find a renewed spirit.”

The sisters live out this mission in a variety of ways.

“Thanks to the support of our many donors, we are able to assist our neighbors in emergencies when they need help to pay for utilities, rent or food. We give the children who come for our after school and summer programs both a sense of belonging as ‘Miracle Place kids’ and encouragement and mentoring to help them get good grades and to graduate from high school. Currently we have several students attending Ivy Tech Community College. We are so happy about that,” Sister Barbara said.

Amarany Garcia beams as she shares her success as a new high school grad with Sisters Rita Ann Wade and Barbara McClelland.

In Spring 2016, after several years of fundraising, the sisters and their benefactors realized their dream of adding a second building to expand services.

“We recently held meetings with our neighbors to learn their needs and how we could respond. Both the adults and children gave us ideas. We also wanted to know what gifts they sensed they could offer to meet the needs they identified,” Sister Rita Ann said.

“Ali Pritchett, a new staff member, is working with the sisters and other volunteers to create classes in parenting, cooking, and zumba. The people also would like opportunities to build relationships with local police. We will work on that as well as hosting fun community events where neighbors can gather to meet one another and enjoy relaxation.”

The sisters are excited that opening the Community Center has stimulated landlords on their block to rehab several other properties as well.

Now Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, then archbishop of Indianapolis, with Sisters Rita Ann and Barbara, blessed Miracle Place Community Center in May.

“The house across the street, for example, has been renovated and a couple recently moved in. They are excited to become contributing members of the neighborhood. The little park that Miracle Place helped to create has become a gathering place for family events.”

Gathering place for associates …
Providence Associates and Sisters of Providences meet as a Providence Circle, a small sharing community, at Miracle Place. This Circle has adopted the ministry as part of their commitment to be Providence in the world. Circle members participated in landscaping and helped with the Community Center Open House in the spring. They helped with preparations for Fiesta Friday in October. Some members volunteer in ongoing programs at Miracle Place like Academic Olympics.

Some of the Miracle Place kids added their own touch to the new Miracle Place Community Center by creating life-size cutouts of themselves to greet visitors. They hold cards celebrating the values they learn participating in Miracle Place programs.

“When the Circle was just getting started, the associates wanted to know more about Miracle Place and our ministry,” Sister Rita Ann said. “Rather than choosing a book to discuss, we talked about our mission and what we try to accomplish. They got very interested in thinking about how they could support the activities here. So that is how the Circle has evolved.”

Thanks to that evolution, the light of Providence shines even more brightly on the east side of Indianapolis.

(Originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Sister Cathy Campbell

Sister Cathy Campbell

Sister Cathy Campbell, SP, is a freelance writer and editor. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Spirituality from Catholic Theological Union/Chicago. Sister Cathy also ministers as a retreat facilitator for the Providence Spirituality and Conference Center with special interests in scripture and the mystics.

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