A smile that led to a life of love
(In the week leading up to World Day for Consecrated Life on Feb. 2, several Sisters of Providence will be sharing their stories. You’ll hear from our youngest sister to our oldest and several in between. We invite you to stay tuned to the blog as they share some of their life experiences.)
Reflecting on the rich memories of my life as a Sister of Providence, there is so much I could include! I decided to tell the story about a smile.
I’ll start at the beginning, at the time I first became aware of religious sisters. I was about four years old and my mother had taken me to Mass in our parish church. Now I had been there many times before but I never noticed the sisters. That day they came in and filled the pews directly in front of my mother and me. I stared at them in wonderment. The sister directly in front of me turned to reach for her missal. When she saw me, she smiled.
This made me wonder about these women. After Mass my mother explained that they taught in our parish school, and when I was old enough I could go there and they would teach me about God. That was enough. My wonderment and curiosity about this God was now sparked.
Totally loving God
I certainly wasn’t disappointed when I finally entered first grade. The Sisters of Providence who taught me from that day through my college studies witnessed a life that offered what I wanted most. As I grew up, I began to realize that religious life offered a way of totally loving God. That love of God would flow over to many people through the various ministries in which I would be involved over the years.
I had imagined that I would always remain a teacher of primary children. I loved this so very much. But God’s Providence led me to various administrative positions in higher education and at diocesan levels. I’ve had such a rich life experience as I encountered persons from nearly every corner of our earth. I always treasured the missionary desire to bring the Gospel to “the ends of the earth.” Surprisingly, this has been fulfilled not because I crossed oceans, but because the ends of the earth came to me.
My religious vows have offered me the freedom I needed to give all my energies to love and serve many and in various ways. Together with my sisters, who have always inspired and supported me, we have reached out wherever there has been great need. A wonder that dawned early in my mission life was that I have always received so much more in this life than I ever could give.
I do not know who that smiling Sister of Providence turned out to be. But some day in heaven, I will give her a big hug to express my gratitude for allowing the Spirit of God to awaken the flame of desire in me to be a Sister of Providence and give my life to bring the Gospel to the world that God so loves.
Thank you, Jeanette. Your story resonates with so many of the experiences of all of us. Thank you for putting words on the some of the thoughts of my heart.
Jeanette, thanks for sharing your amazing story! You received a smile and have reaped a harvest of blessings for so many in your various ministries.
Sister Jeanette Marie
You were my teacher at St James Indianapolis in 1958
You were favorite teacher of all time and I think of you often
Thank you from the bottom of my heart
Dear Sr. Jeanette….It’s been a few years since I wrote last and I apologize for not keeping in touch better. I have been reflecting on my spiritual journey in more depth lately and I was sharing with a colleague where a lot of my spiritual theology really began and it took me back to St. Zachary’s and our group of CORE catechists and symbolic catechesis. I hope you know how instrumental you were in those days and how I’ve carried the lessons learned and the stories shared as my own relationship with God has evolved. Thank you so much for the invaluable role you played in my journey and how much I still and will always appreciate you. I would love to reconnect and catch up at some point. With that said and if you wish, I would be happy to hear from you.
Peace and joy, always…Jim