Preparing to bring God’s love, mercy and justice to the world
Has a Sister of Providence been transformational in your life? You as a donor certainly are transformational in the lives of the next generation of Sisters of Providence. (See graphic at bottom of article.)
Forming our newest Sisters of Providence is vital in preparing them to bring love, mercy and justice to a world in need.
Sister Dina Bato professed final vows as a Sister of Providence in June. For nine years leading up to that she had been in formation with the Sisters of Providence. What did that mean for her?
“Formation has really challenged me to not be afraid to ask questions. To respond to everything through the depth of prayer,” Sister Dina said.
“The Dina of today has got a greater awareness of who she is. She’s got a greater awareness of whose she is. And the giftedness of community has really brought that out,” she said.
Prayer, community, ministry
The first three years of the formation process are the most focused. During the postulant and canonical novice years, the sister deepens her relationship with God while learning about the Congregation and herself.
Sister Dina said canonical hour during her second year had a great impact on her life.
“During canonical year, every day we have to spend at least one hour in silent prayer alone. I thought at the time that it was something I had to do. But now I see that prayer time as something I want to do or that I need to do. Because any sort of ministry has to be grounded in prayer. And that has evolved. I don’t want to start a day at the office without having had some time in quiet prayer and meditation,” said Sister Dina, who ministered as an accountant for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for the past six years and is just beginning a new ministry as coordinator of mission and ministry at Resurrection University in Chicago.
“You are going to be facing aspects about yourself that you may not have faced before. You are going to be challenged. And you’re not going to be able to figure this out by yourself,” Sister Dina said of the formation process.
“I would say a very formative year was mission novice year [her third year in community.] Not only was I in a new living community but also I struggled in ministry.” Sister Dina realized her first official ministry with the Congregation was not a good fit for her. “God had to drag me kicking and screaming. And I hit such a low. It was like I needed to hit that low in order to be open and teachable.”
Love and concern
“But what was beautiful about the whole experience was that several sisters were extremely supportive and very loving and very concerned.” As she struggled, her novice director told her to pack her bags and come home for an overnight. “She made some decisions for me that I couldn’t make for myself. And my reception was not one that was very stern. It was like, ‘We’re concerned about you’. It was like, ‘Dina we love you. It’s not about the ministry, it’s about you.’”
“I try to use that as a foundation for my interaction with my sisters and my interactions with other people. ‘It’s not about the ministry, it’s about you.’ That taught me so much. The sisters helped me build up empathy toward those who struggle.”
Sister Dina’s mother, Cynthia Bato, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, walked with her daughter through her formation process. They speak one to two times a week by phone.
Cynthia has seen transformation in her daughter.
“When she first entered she was kind of not sure, in a way, if she was doing the right thing, maybe 50/50. And then all through the years she would say, ‘I have to work on this, I have to work on that, I have to work on this.’
“Today, she is at peace. She is more confident. She has become more focused,” her mother said.
“Formation has been incredible and necessary,” Sister Dina said. “This is not all about me. Keeping that as a focus — that I am part of something bigger. That’s life changing.
“Being a sister means being challenged to grow and challenged to love. Being challenged to grow in love.
“My mind and my heart have been stretched and made more pliable through the formation process. And I know that I am loved. And the fact that I am loved calls me to love as well.”
From her years of formation, the Congregation is confident that Sister Dina is well prepared to bring God’s love to the world as a Sister of Providence.
Would you like to help form the next generation of Sisters of Providence? Your donation makes this transformation possible!
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