Sisters profess first, perpetual vows
Recently, one woman made a lifelong commitment to living as a Sister of Providence and two others took a step to deepen their commitment to this path.
On Sunday, June 25, both Sisters Tracey Horan and Anna Fan professed first vows, and Sister Dina Bato professed perpetual vows in the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.
For nine years, Sister Dina has engaged in spiritual formation, study, and ministry as a temporary professed sister in preparation for her lifelong commitment.
For Sisters Tracey and Anna, this journey is only three years in the making, as they will continue to discern their call to religious life as a Sister of Providence, and the path to perpetual vows.
Sister Dina currently ministers as a staff accountant for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. She came into contact with the Sisters of Providence after meeting Sister Carolyn Bouchard while volunteering in a parish in Virginia.
“The candor each sister has with each other, as well as their ability to build community no matter what the circumstance, is what caught my attention,” Sister Dina said. “There is an authenticity to the interactions I’ve had with the sisters. We are each our own person, warts and all, and to share in the journey, both the joys and sorrows, has been a great gift.”
Sister Dina said the chance meeting she had nearly 14 years ago was exactly what she needed in her life at that time.
“For a long time, I had been searching for community,” she said. “I have had acquaintances and friends in a number of social circles, but I longed for a consistent community that would challenge me to lovingly grow into my authentic self. The Sisters of Providence have done and continue to do that for me, and I believe, I for them.”
She added after professing perpetual vows, she does feel “different.”
“My years in initial formation brought with them great and new opportunities for growth and transformation, but their completion may take a while to wrap my head and heart around,” Sister Dina said. “Overall, however, I felt an ineffable peace about me when I offered my perpetual yes to my Providence community and our journey together. I believe the time was right for perpetual vows, and I know that I have the rest of my life to grow into them.
“I look forward to what unfolds both now and in the future.”
Sisters of Providence General Officer Sister Jenny Howard serves as the liaison to the New Membership Team. She said Sister Dina spent the past year in Tertianship, the final formal period of initial formation.
During the same celebration that Sister Dina professed perpetual vows, Sisters Anna and Tracey both vowed to live poverty, chastity and obedience for the first time as part of the Congregation.
Currently, Sister Tracey ministers as a bilingual community organizer for the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network.
Sister Tracey admits she had been searching for more in her life. Prior to becoming a Sister of Providence, she discerned with other communities as part of that search.
“I feel a deepened sense that these vows are not just about me, but about how this vocation will both enrich and be upheld by the people of God,” Sister Tracey said. “My ‘yes’ somehow became bigger. This was especially clear in the presence of people who have been part of my faith journey all along the way – parents, Godparents, college classmates, friends and sisters from near and far.
“So much has happened since I first set foot inside a Sisters of Charity convent 11 years ago in El Paso, Texas. Lots of people have been part of that journey, and I was so aware of that when I looked around the church on vow day.”
She added she looks forward to continuing her ministry.
“I will continue to live and minister in Indianapolis with Indianapolis Congregation Action Network, the first time a transition in formation has not meant a physical move,” she said. “After six moves in seven years, I’m grateful to stay in one place for a while!”
Sister Anna said professing first vows wasn’t any different than entering the Congregation.
“I always thank God for His love again and again,” Sister Anna said. “He has enriched my life through the Call. His loving hand has sustained my life so much so that I cannot fail to see in the attention of His Providence.
“It is a challenge and a privilege for me to become a Sister of Providence. It is a special gift from God. I know that the sisters have helped me to become a part of this community through different actions, mentoring and praying for me. Because of the love of God and the sisters, I believe that every day of my life, with God’s help, I will continue to move forward as a more loving person and grow more fully into who I am called to be.”
During the ceremony, Sisters Anna and Tracey were presented the symbol of the Sisters of Providence to be worn as a sign of religious profession, their love of God and commitment to the mission and community of the Sisters of Providence.
Sister Dina also received a ring to wear as a sign of her perpetual consecration to God and as a sign of her faith.
Sister Jenny said “the purpose of this Congregation of Sisters of Providence is to honor Divine Providence and to further God’s loving plans by devoting ourselves to works of love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people.
“The Sisters of Providence are always welcoming new women who wish to join them in this mission,” Sister Jenny continued. “We’re very blessed to have new members so that together we can carry forward God’s mission in our world.”
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.