Providence Associate Co-Director Debbie Dillow
After six years as assistant director for the Providence Associates, Debbie Dillow was recently named co-director of the Providence Associate relationship. Get to know more about Debbie and her new role with this interview.
Tell about your history with Providence Associates.
I was searching for a community, for something more, in my spiritual life. At the time I was very active in my parish. I felt I needed more but I did not know what that more was.
Marilyn Webb from my parish mentioned to me the Providence Associate relationship with the Sisters of Providence. Marilyn, at the time, was in the first group of Providence Associates preparing to make their first commitment. I looked at the materials and made my first trip to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. When I crossed those front gates, I felt Mother Theodore welcome her daughter home. Walking the grounds, attending Mass and just being with the Sisters of Providence made for a peaceful experience — a feeling of welcome and home. As soon as I returned home I called about becoming a Providence Associate. I made my first commitment Nov. 8, 2008.
After six years as assistant director to Sister Diane Mason, what do you look forward to in your new role as co-director of the Providence Associate relationship?
I look forward to the next chapter in the relationship between sisters and associates. I look forward to working with Sister Sue Paweski as we grow the Providence Associate relationship into the Community of Providence together. And I look forward to the possibility of new opportunities for associates and sisters to work together as one community of Providence. What will this community look like? I don’t know but I am open to where the Spirit leads us.
Tell about your experience ministering with Sister Diane Mason who recently retired as director.
Ministering with Sister Diane was a privilege! We worked so well as a team because we were open to learn from each other. I learned so much from Sister Diane. We would constantly bounce ideas off each other as we planned for advisory board meetings, retreats, orientation, and meetings with other associate communities. Together we strove to be the best for those we serve — the community of Providence. We shared many laughs and tears through our journey together. Not only were we colleagues but we became friends.
Sister Diane was a wonderful mentor helping to shape me into the person I am today. She challenged me to “go deeper” and grow. During many of our discussions, Sister Diane would ask why I thought a certain way — she pushed me to think beyond the proverbial “box.” I am forever grateful to Providence for bringing us together!
How well do you know Sister Sue Paweski, your new c0-director? Have you worked with her in the past? What are you looking forward to in being in co-leadership with her?
I do not know Sister Sue well. My previous contact was mostly in passing. I was always impressed with her energy and what she was creating with the children she was teaching, and I loved her joyful nature and positive attitude when we talked.
I am looking forward to creating new and exciting opportunities for our associates and candidates. Sister Sue has a creative nature, as do I. I am looking forward to spending time with Sister Sue as we begin this new chapter of our Providence journey together.
What have you gained from this ministry?
Not only have I gained a deeper faith and relationship with the Divine, I have gained a community of caring, like-minded people who care about the world in which we live. The deep sense of community among the associates and sisters is felt in each phone call, email or personal contact I have. I feel a deep love and respect among our Providence Community.
What is important/special about the Providence Associate relationship?
There is a sense of community among the associates and sisters in this relationship. We support each other via prayer, local gatherings in circles and virtually as we add to our spirituality. This is a journey not only with the Divine but also with people of like mind. As Providence Associates we bring love, mercy and justice to the people we encounter in our everyday lives.
In what ways have you seen being a Providence Associate impact the lives of others?
I have had a few associates come to me to say that this journey has changed the direction of their lives. It did not change the people around them — it changed the associate into a more loving, hope-filled person able to see beyond their closed space. What it did was open their eyes to see things differently. It helped them to implement positive changes. I am not saying that this is a miracle cure for what might ail persons or a situation, but it allows persons to go inward, speak and listen to the direction to which they are being called. It is up to them to answer the call, to stretch their mind.
Why would you recommend the Providence Associate relationship?
If you are looking for a challenge in your spirituality or if you feel your life journey has become stagnate, this relationship is a wonderful opportunity to grow both spirituality and personally. This relationship starts with an inward reflection of who you are and who you are called by Providence to be. The journey is not something you do alone. You walk with a companion during your year of spiritual integration. You also have a community of sisters and associates praying with you every day as you journey on this path of discovery.
This relationship is life-giving. Fully embraced, it becomes a beautiful way of life.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I love being a Providence Associate and the relationships that have been fostered over the years. It has given me a voice to speak against injustice. This relationship has deepened my own faith.
Might the Providence Associate relationship be what you need in your life? Contact Debbie to learn more or request an application!
Thanks, Debbie, for all you have brought to the ministry of co-directing the Associate relationship in the past. Blessings to you and Sue Paweski as you create a new leadership team for the Associate program evolving into the future. Be assured of my prayers and support.