Reflections on 50 years
Recently, nine Sisters of Providence celebrated 50 years with the Congregation. They were recognized by the General Council and Congregation during a Mass on June 24, at the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Recently, the sisters were asked to reflect on their time as a woman religious and were invited to share those thoughts with everyone:
From Sister Danielle Sullivan:
“I have always felt a part of the Sisters of Providence. Since my dad’s oldest sibling, Sister Esther Marie, was a Sister of Providence, we were frequent visitors to Saint Rose Convent in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Saint Mary’s in Rochester, New Hampshire, and Lady Isle in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Dad also provided transportation. As a child, I truly enjoyed being my dad’s co-pilot. Our family also enjoyed visiting my aunt and her sister friends. I recall much laughter coming from the community room while the sisters were having recreation. In the winter, the sister would freeze the enclosed summer porch in the convent yard. While my parents would be visiting inside, I would be outside skating with the sisters. In the summer, we would drive up to Lady Isle. There was always a softball game after lunch. Thus, I brought my baseball glove along because the sisters always invited me to play. After the game, we went for a swim. The sisters went to the point while we would swim close to the big house. While we couldn’t see the sisters, we could hear again the laughter. As a child, I recall the FUN and delighted in being a part of it. I attended Cheverus School in Malden, Massachusetts, for grade school and high school. My dad and his siblings also attended Cheverus. Dad would proudly and fondly name each one of his teachers. He would tell what a great education he had received at Cheverus. When I was in high school, my friends and I would frequently hang out at the convent. My mother would remind me that we also had windows to wash and snow to shovel. My friends and I would also sit outside under the chapel windows while the sisters were at Vespers. Their voices lifted up in prayer were clear and joyful.
“It was during my freshman year of high school that I began to discern about religious life. My relationship and conversations with the sisters changed. I attended daily Mass and became a Confraternity of Christian Doctorine teacher. I joined the Junior Sodality. While I continued to see the sisters having FUN, my definition of FUN also changed. FUN now was F (Faithfulness), U (understanding of their identity and mission), and N (nurturing of oneself and others).
“My ministries have included being an elementary school teacher, an elementary school principal, and congregation service for the SPs, the SNDs, and now the CSJs. When I was elected to serve as General Treasurer, Sister Nancy Nolan told me, ‘Not to worry, Danielle, we will have FUN.’ Nancy was true to her word! While there were certainly challenges, there was F (Faithfulness) U (understanding of our identity and mission) N (nurturing of oneself and others). Those five years were truly a GIFT! During our Jubilee Liturgy, we will renew our vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. I can honestly say that I have never felt poor! I am so proud to be a Sister of Providence! What GREAT FUN!”
From Sister Jean Kenny:
The Path of Providence (1967-2017)
“The holiness within me over these past 50 years guides my quest for truth and justice and trust in God. It is God who works in mysterious ways. I look for things falling into place, truth dawning, healing happening. I believe in everyday miracles as I joyfully live my life as a Sister of Providence. I reaffirm my faith in the basic goodness of people and the power of God to heal all wounds. I sense God’s loving hand in both turmoil and tranquility. I continue to look to God daily to find healing in the midst of pain, to turn loss into gain, and to make ends into beginnings. As Saint Mother Theodore said many years ago, ‘Profit by the experience of the past for the future.’
“I have learned from Meister Eckhart’s sermons that it is not our works which sanctify us, but we who sanctify our works. All that God asks of us is to go out of ourselves and let God be God in us. I continue to learn to practice selflessness and emptiness each day and allow God to be one’s only One. My favorite Meister Eckhart quote is, ‘Whatever God does, the first outburst is always compassion.’ I am invited and challenged daily to go and do the same as a Sister of Providence.
“I firmly believe God wants only the best for all of us. The path of Providence may not be easy, smooth, short, or detour-free. This path will get us where we need to be – with God as our constant companion. God bless the nine Golden Jubilarians – the Class of 2017!”
“For in every season, the winters of sorrow and struggle, the summers of joy and peace, Providence will rise before the sun.” – Lacordaire
From Sister Paula Damiano:
“Journey in love, mercy and d justice” is the theme for our Golden Jubilee Year. Simple and clear … or, so it seems at first glance. The life journey however, isn’t simply a journey through a string of days and years. Rather, the journey is surrounded and intertwined by mystery and growth. The journey is one of risk and excitement. And, at the same time, the journey is filled with losses and gains, joys and sorrows, dreams and disappointments. The path the journey takes is never a straight one, but certainly an interesting and challenging one. I’d have it no other way.
“What have I learned in these 50 years as a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana? Of what am I certain?
“I’ve learned that community is essential to living. It sustains and supports me more than I could ever imagine.
“I’ve learned that in community, one never stops learning –even if you wanted to! I continue to learn more and more about God, self, earth, others, the Cosmos, the Christ.
“I’m certain that through it all, the Provident God, the Love-God, the Divine Indwelling, is always present, calling me over and over again, every day, every day, to say, ‘Yes, I bind myself to live a life of freedom in Christ.’
“I’m certain that this Jubilee celebration isn’t so much about me, my call, my life of service, my vocation. This is a part of it, certainly, but not the most essential part. This jubilee celebrates God’s call, God’s faithfulness, God’s mercy to this community of Providence. This jubilee recognizes and honors Providence who has protected this Congregation from its beginning, continues to be with us to this day, and I believe, will remain with us as the journey takes us into the future.
“I’m certain that as you share your jubilee congratulations with me, I pay close attention because your greetings call me to remain steadfast on this journey. You remind me of why I’m a religious sister. You call me to be even more than I am. You give me energy to journey forward in love, mercy and justice. For this, and for these 50 years, I’m grateful. For the years ahead, ‘of my full and deliberate will, I renew and profess vows. Grant me, O my God, the grace to be faithful to them until death. Amen.’ (Sisters of Providence vow, formula, adapted).
“I’m certain there’s no other place I’m meant to be.”
From Sister Mary Montgomery:
“I feel blessed to be celebrating 50 years as a Sister of Providence. I have had so many opportunities for education, spiritual enrichment, and community living through these years as well as challenges to help me grow. I cherish my SP Community, my family and friend, and I thank God for my vocation.
“It has been a privilege and an honor to minister in Indiana and Kentucky for these many years. The people I worked with enhanced my life in so many ways and were the face of God for me. And this continues in my current ministries of retreats, spiritual direction, and most recently, as the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice Internship Program Coordinator. I have to say I have enjoyed all my varied ministries – teaching first grade in Indianapolis and Sellersburg in the 1970s, pastoral ministry, Burkesville and Albany, Kentucky, youth ministry in Meade County, Kentucky, pastoral and campus ministry in Bloomington, Indiana, leadership in St. Gabriel Province, director of Providence Volunteer Ministry, working in city hall, and the deanery center in Terre Haute.
“Infused within all of these ministries was my love for people of all cultures and race, as well as special interests in spirituality, service with the poor, and justice. I have a deep appreciation for nature in every season, the Sacred in the Ordinary, and the arts.”
From Sister Editha Ben:
“My whole being rejoices in our Provident God …
“For 50 years of God’s unconditional love, rich compassion and transforming power on this sacred journey.
“For having gone to places I would not have dared go without living communal life rooted in prayer with women of vision and dreams for doing God’s will.
“My whole being rejoices …
“For the many people of God who have crossed paths with mine in various ministries: Children, students, parents, families, catechists, our sister and brother refugees, slum dwellers, prisoners, homebound elderly, migrant workers, international students, women and men discerning their vocations in life.
“For the layers of memories with challenges as well as surprises, and gained wisdom from mentors and spiritual companions.
“My whole being rejoices …
“For the Sisters of St. Paul Chartres (in Michigan and The Philippines) and the Sisters of Providence. And for the gift of trusting the possibilities of tomorrow.”
From Sister Marianne Mader:
“The theme for our Jubilee is ‘A Journey in Love, Mercy and Justice,’ signified by our choice of a road going off in the distance.
“It has been quite a journey these past 50 years. I started out teaching primary grades in Indianapolis. During this time, I studied for my Master’s in Library Science with a medical certification. I went from teaching little children to working as a reference librarian for doctors and nurses at both Community hospitals in Indianapolis, as well as working as the research librarian for a group of hand surgeons in a private practice. This was quite a leap of faith!
“My highest point in ministry was when I used this medical library degree to document the cure of Sister Mary Theodosia Mug that resulted in Mother Theodore being beatified. I said at the time if I never did another ministry, I had accomplished this for Mother Theodore and the Sisters of Providence.
“After this, I worked at Holy Spirit as a resource room helper with children needing extra help. My last ministry before coming to the Woods was at Holy Angels in Indianapolis, where I was the librarian. Very different from being a medical librarian!
“Now, I am the archivist for the Sisters of Providence. Working in archives was my goal ever since I worked with Sister Eugenia Logan as a canonical novice. I am the keeper of our stories along this wonderful journey of love, mercy and justice. It is now 11 years and counting.
“I, of course, don’t know where the road will take myself or any of us in the years to come, but it certainly will be a Providence Journey of love, mercy and justice.”
Sisters, your jubilee was a day of joy and celebration, and I was so happy to be able to share in that with you! I love Sister Paula’s thoughts that this was a jubilee celebrating God’s faithfulness and mercy, since none of us would have made it this far without that Providencial love. Your “fiat” and perseverence is an echo that faithfulness, and you are a witness and an inspiration to all. THANK YOU for being a sign of God’s love, justice and mercy!!!
I attended lady isle more than 30 years ago. I wasn’t Catholic. My parents wanted my brothers and I to be safe. I still tell stories of Sister Mary Josita with fondness and respect.