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Restlessness led to liberation as a woman religious

Sister Sue Paweski and three of her students in 2015.

I don’t have a job, I have a ministry! I am a fine arts teacher in a Catholic school. How is being a religious sister different from my teaching days before I joined the Sisters of Providence?

My love of teaching has always been a constant in my life. Yet, as a woman religious, it’s my privilege to be available to others to share in their joys and in their concerns, whether in my ministry setting or standing in the grocery checkout line. Because I am committed to pursue my relationship with God in apostolic ministry, all my waking hours are viewed through the lens of our Providence charism.

So what is Providence charism? It is living Love, Mercy and Justice in the fullness of Providence. How does that work on a day-to-day basis? How am I honoring Providence when I am approached by someone who has a lot of negative energy and turns that on me because I am a “professional Catholic?”

During my early years in our formation process (nun training), I had to practice responding not reacting. Take a few deep breaths and ask for clarification. Begin a dialogue, not a monologue. Find some level of commonality and move from that point. Bring some sense of hope to situations that seem insurmountable.

Sometimes these moments flow easily, sometimes not. Either way, the days’ events and encounters go to prayer. The day has to begin and end with union with the Divine. Nothing hangs together if my relationship with God is compromised. I can’t tell myself, “I don’t have time.”

The calling

I joined the Sisters of Providence Congregation later in life. I began noticing a restlessness that just didn’t go away. Sometimes, sitting with friends listening to the updates about the status of love lives, families, job woes, I’d think, “What am I doing here? Is this how I want to spend my time?” It wasn’t a judgment against anyone else; it was a judgement about me. I would find myself bored with going out just to go out, waiting for that “something” that would take hold of my being. What was missing? That was the telltale cajoling of the Mystery of God. Nudging very gently with unsettling thoughts. A restlessness.

The restless energy was compelling. I had to take the first steps that led me to the Sisters of Providence. The adventure began and I have not looked back. It is a life of liberation. That liberation is a result of the grace that comes in committing to the vows of poverty (sustainability), chastity (unbounded love for Creation) and obedience (listening to movement of the Spirit.) I am free to follow the Gospel values with the example of Jesus guiding my daily choices. There is freedom in seeing the world through the lens of Providence. Come and see!

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Sister Sue Paweski

Sister Sue has been a Sister of Providence since 1998. She currently ministers as Co-director of the Providence Associate relationship with the Sisters of Providence. Prior to that she taught fine arts at St. Genevieve Catholic School in Chicago.

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2 Comments

  1. Theresa Tighe on January 31, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    Lovely. All those attributes taking a deep breath starting a dialogue instead of a monologue, asking for clarifications, looking for commonality are what is needed now to find a way to move our nation out of fear and hate and to get through our lives.
    I’ve just begun to realize how much practice I need. I have gotten tips reading St. Mother Theodore Guerin’s journals and my lessons as an associate candidate. I knew battering with words didn’t work. So, I just didn’t speak up. Just today when I used a soft loving approach, a friend of mine who favored putting MF on protest signs, decided we should woo rather than put off people.
    Instead of yelling about her language being divisive I had told her I admired her involvement spurred by righteous anger, but thought “When they go low, we should go high.”
    I came to understand that a sense of outrage prompted her language. And the exchange gave both of us hope. That’s a little long but I wanted to tell someone and am saving your blog.

  2. Paula Modaff, S.P. on February 3, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Sue, knowing you personally as I do, your reflection is a good picture of the reality of who you are. I am delighted that we are sisters. Your life gives energy to mine and countless others.

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