Connecting Link celebrating 20 years of ministry
Shortly after entering Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, Sister Dorothy Rasche began to notice something that she held close to her heart for many years.
She saw many people in the village and town of West Terre Haute living in poverty and it bothered her greatly.
“The women in particular … my heart went out to them because it was such a hard life,” Sister Dorothy said, recalling many of the women who lived in the area and worked for the Sisters of Providence. “I wanted to be able to raise some joy, some relief from the burdens of poverty.”
Her many ministries took her away from the Motherhouse before she returned to the area to minister as a Staff Chaplain at the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute.
A handful of years later, then General Superior Sister Ann Margaret O’Hara asked Sister Dorothy if she was interested in starting a new ministry and Sister Dorothy jumped at the chance.
Along with Sister Rita Black, who is now deceased, Sister Dorothy created The Connecting Link.
“(The Connecting Link) was designed specifically for our employees here and, in general, our neighbors (in West Terre Haute),” Sister Dorothy said. “We expected there to be a lot of health care issues and a lot of transportation issues.”
Since opening in 1997, The Connecting Link has assisted more than 3,500 individuals in need of food, money, furniture, clothing or basic services.
And on Saturday, July 8, The Connecting Link – a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Providence – will be celebrating its 20-year anniversary.
The celebration and open house will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the ministry, located at 830 W. National Ave., West Terre Haute.
The ministry provides information and referrals to and from other not-for-profit organizations, and advocacy within the community to address needs related to social services.
“We receive the referrals from agencies whose clients have needs they cannot address,” Sister Dorothy said.
In addition, Sister Dorothy said the ministry has helped advocate for a citywide trash pickup and helped with animal spay and neuter issues, as well as other concerns.
It took a few years for the ministry to gain solid footing and Sister Dorothy said a former pastor in the area, Minnie Gowan, was quite helpful in spreading the word to area residents.
“Her word was a gold star. You could trust us,” Sister Dorothy said. “That was the best stamp of approval. I couldn’t do this by myself.”
During the open house, gift bags that highlight ministry partners, including Providence Food Pantry, The Helping Hands and Providence Housing Corporation, will be handed out. In addition, a newsletter will be offered highlighting events during The Connecting Link’s 20 years of service, and a slideshow will run offering press clippings and photos of the ministry’s history.
A light lunch, including hot dogs and chips, will be served.
“The goodwill that has come out of The Connecting Link has just been enormous,” Sister Dorothy said.
For more information on the ministry or open house, contact Sister Dorothy at 812-535-4403.
About the Sisters of Providence
The Sisters of Providence, a congregation of 214 women religious, with 300 Providence Associates, collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy. The Sisters of Providence have their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, located just northwest of downtown Terre Haute, Ind., which is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 13 states, the District of Columbia and Asia, through works of love, mercy and justice. More information about the Sisters of Providence and their ministries can be found at SistersofProvidence.org.