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Faithful donors make mission possible

Just as Sisters of Providence donors come from all walks of life and represent all ages, so, too, are their reasons for gifting the Sisters of Providence with their financial resources, time and talents. Below are some stories and quotes from a few of our donors.

Donna and Frank Kehoe

“I can’t remember a time when the Sisters of Providence weren’t a part of my life. You could say that I have grown up with the Sisters of Providence,” said Chicagoan and Providence Associate Donna Kehoe. “First, they were my teachers, and now they are my friends and I am their Associate. Their lives of total commitment have inspired me in so many areas of my life. One of the things that I have been inspired to do is monetarily support the needs of the SP community.

“Through my association with the sisters, Frank has come to appreciate all that they do and how careful the community is in using all the resources with which they are blessed. We always feel confident that the Sisters of Providence will use our donations with wisdom and care. Whether it is used for the missions that spring from their charism of love, mercy, and justice or keeping the property at Saint Mary of the Woods in good working order, I feel that whatever I donate matters.”

Wendy and Paul Zienin

Wendy and Paul Zienin reside in Indianapolis and are friends with Bill Hughes, a Providence Associate from Terre Haute. Bill shares information about the sisters’ ministries with Wendy and Paul. Wendy’s mother, Margaret “Maggie” Mockbee, a 1942 graduate of St. Agnes Academy, was raised Catholic but became Protestant upon her marriage. In later years she became Catholic again and reconnected with the Sisters of Providence. This led her to make gifts to the sisters to help with their many missions. Wendy, who knew about the Sisters of Providence through her mother and Bill Hughes, said, “I began making gifts in honor of my mother and to continue my mother’s philanthropic work.”

Irene Eckerle

Irene Eckerle from Jasper, Indiana, considers Saint Mary-of-the-Woods her “second home.” Her connection to the Woods began as a child in religion class taught by a Sister of Providence and continued with her own children. Her great-aunt and two cousins became sisters and she fondly remembers bringing her grandparents and her children to the Woods to visit them. Irene’s husband was unable to join her recently for the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner, so Irene enlisted a friend to attend with her. Irene was excited to show her friend the Saint Mother Theodore Shrine and the cemetery where she pays respect to her relatives. Irene continues to support the sisters because “the Woods means something. Just being in the peacefulness gives me strength.” For Irene, the emotion of it is real and very comforting.

Marilu Bintz

After 26 years as a solo general surgeon in a rural community, Marilu Bintz wears at least three “hats” as an administrator with Gunderson Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She began her journey with the Sisters of Providence in first grade at Saint Luke Catholic School and continued in high school at Ladywood-Saint Agnes, both in Indianapolis. “My support of the SPs is rooted in their generous and extensive contribution to my personal development, as well as the education they offered me. It was after high school that I realized what an incredible foundation of faith and education I possessed as a result of my experience with the SPs. As time goes on, I think we all mature in our view of the gifts we have been given … my support of the SPs has been no exception. I don’t know how I will ever repay that debt, knowing the professional success and well-being that have come to me as a result of the personal and intellectual learning I experienced.”

Lee Wall

Lee Wall’s love for sponsoring alpacas came about in a very unusual way. It originated from being at her home church in St. Louis and meeting two elderly ladies that sat behind her. Learning that the ladies needed transportation to church, Lee began to provide that service. One of the ladies, Rosie, had previously sent money to the sisters for new stained glass windows as a memorial gift for her recently deceased husband. Rosie asked Lee to search out her husband’s name on the plaque the next time Lee was at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Visiting the church, Lee found a brochure about sponsoring a White Violet Center for Eco-Justice alpaca. An idea emerged. Knowing Rosie and her husband were fond of the sisters, upon Rosie’s death, Lee would honor her by sponsoring an alpaca. Rosie loved the idea. Upon her death, Lee sponsored the alpaca as promised. Upon learning of a new alpaca cria named Olivia, Lee sponsored it as well because her mother was named Olive. The alpacas continue to be blessed because of Lee!

Mike and Mary Cassell

Pictured left to right Mary Cassell, Sandy Scroggins, Sisters of Providence donor relations staff member (retired), Mike Cassell and son Guerin front.

Mike and Mary Cassell of Forsyth, Illinois, began supporting the Sisters of Providence because “we believe in the sisters’ mission.” They use the sisters’ core values of love, mercy and justice in living their lives and in relationships with others. Their support started when the Cassells became familiar with the Sisters of Providence, as they visited the campus and learned about the various ministries. They began to determine where they could help with their own time, talent and monetary contributions. Mike became a board member of the Mission Advisory Board and the Providence Health Care Board, along with serving on other committees. Both Mike and Mary became loyal monetary donors as well. Their son Guerin was even named after Saint Mother Theodore Guerin! Per Mike, “The love, prayers, hospitality and support that we have received form the sisters are a life-giving gift to our family. The Sisters of Providence are counting on us just as much as we count on them!”

Mary Alice Stewart

“Gratitude motivates me to support the ministries of the Sisters of Providence as my mother and following generations were taught by the Sisters in Galesburg, Illinois. In addition, my personal relationships with individual sisters indicated to me their commitment to the mission of the Congregation, their genuine warmth and love for each other and all those they encounter, and their ability to respond to change with dignity and grace.

“My giving has been further nurtured by the ministries that reflect ‘breaking boundaries, creating hope.’ These evolving ministries, based on social justice, not only bring me joy, but also illustrate the continuing vitality of the Sisters of Providence.”

Marion Rapp (RIP)

In Marion Rapp’s 1987 Christmas letter to the sisters, she wrote “I met the sisters, for the first time, when I entered the first grade class at Our Lady of Mercy grammar school. On my part, it was a matter of love-at-first-sight, a long-lasting love.” Indeed it was! Marion’s life was full of “long-lasting” things. She worked for the same company for nearly 50 years; cared for her parents until their deaths (her mother lived to over 100). She lived in only two apartments her entire adult life and never used her kitchen, preferring to visit her favorite restaurants. Marion never owned a car and walked to church every Sunday of her life. She was described as “a humble, yet opinionated woman,” and “intelligent, discerning, courteous, no-nonsense, stubborn and very kind-hearted” … a “dignified and proper woman by her nature and the life training the SPs gave to young women.” Loyal in life and in death, Marion gave modestly during her lifetime. Her gift of almost a half million dollars at her death shows her “long-lasting” love for the Sisters of Providence!

Margaret “Peg” Monahan

Margaret “Peg” Monahan is about as independent as a person can be. Having worked hard to make her way in a “man’s” world, she retired from a rewarding career, raised two children alone and has overcome health adversities. Peg’s introduction to the Sisters of Providence came at the age of 6 when her brother’s godmother became a Sister of Providence. Despite an almost 10 year age difference, Sister Ellen Madigan and Peg would remain close friends throughout the years. Peg became the caretaker for Sister Ellen until her death in 1997. Peg’s generosity over the years is well-known to all Sisters of Providence through her annual gifts as well as to every capital project we’ve had. Peg’s latest gifts include a 10-passenger golf cart for Providence Spirituality and Conference Center and catering dishes for our Food Service Department. It’s no surprise that she has chosen to include the Sisters of Providence in her estate plans.

The golf cart Peg donated to the Sisters of Providence


(Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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