Wisdom from recently retired Director of Providence Associates Sister Diane Mason
Sister Diane Mason retired from her position as director of Providence Associates at the end of 2017. As new co-directors have been named, Sister Diane reflects back on her journey with the Providence Associate relationship over the past ten years and on the relationships very bright future.
Tell about your experience working with the Providence Associates.
It was indeed a privilege for me to work with the Providence Associates and Candidates. To listen to their stories and to watch them unfold into a deeper spirituality has been a gift and honor for me.
How long had you been in this ministry?
I worked in this ministry for 10 years — as assistant director during the sickness and death of founding director Sister Mary Alice Zander, SP — and then eight years as director.
What do you take from your time in this ministry? How has it impacted you?
It has been a very privileged ministry! — working closer with the women and men who have the sincere desire to deepen their own Providence Spirituality. I’ve been wonderfully impacted by watching them grow and unfold into human beings who are carrying the spirit of Providence within their own minds and hearts.
Why is this relationship so important?
This relationship is vital. We are in the 21st century. We evolved. Change happens — none of us know where the Spirit is leading us. But by being together we will be stronger.
What are your hopes for the future of the Providence Associates?
That they/we continue to grow deeper within our own hearts, souls and minds, through a deeper understanding of our own Providence Spirituality
Tell about your decision to retire
I am a very passionate individual. I have always gone at a very high rate of energy, and I simply ran out of steam. When the steam subsided, I had nothing left inside to keep going. I always felt in prayer that God would give me the fuel that I needed to keep going and God did. But there does come a time when one needs to take a step back and just be for a little while with her God — to rest and fuel up to wherever I am to go.
Are you going to stay involved in any way?
After some time of rest, I would like to share some of my time with the new “team.” I have a great passion for the future of the associates. And I said to the new co-directors Debbie Dillow and Sister Sue Paweski, it is now time to lead to new heights — led by the Spirit. Again, we don’t know what it will look like. But then, did our Saint Mother Theodore Guerin know what her daughters of the forest would be like from time she arrived in 1840 until 2018? I don’t think so. But I do believe she knew through deep prayer and from confidence in those who walked with her, that the future would be filled with grace. Grace for the courage to take the next step moving forward, courage to take away the fear of the unknown and grace for a tremendous amount of trust in our Divine Providence that so far has never failed us.
What are your plans for the future?
Right now I am resting and staying close to home! I pray, asking God to fuel me up with positive energy and grace to keep going, to keep touching the lives of others, sharing the passion that comes from within my being.
Why would a person want to become a Providence Associate?
When we ask this question during the initial interview, many respond: “I want more out of life.” Sometimes they may not know what that means, but as they get more involved with the other associates, sharing on a deeper level from your own heart and soul becomes a part of life.
What do you feel were your accomplishments in this ministry?
I do believe that each candidate and associate knew that I loved them! My hope and desire is that with the help of the Holy Spirit and with the gift of Providence in our lives, that our lives become deeper, become authentic. You don’t have to talk about how you have grown — just let it shine through your heart, your soul, your eyes, your smile. That is what I pray and hope I have shared with this ministry.
What do you think of the new leadership team now in place?
I am happy for both Debbie and Sue! I told them it is time to take our associates to new heights. We never stop growing! Continue to tap leadership within the associates. Continue to help them feel being an associate is a huge part of who they are. Continue to help them grow within their own spirituality. Continue to encourage participation in Providence Circles. Continue to listen to what associates have to say and continue to invite them HOME to the Woods if it is possible. It is on this holy and sacred ground that we feel the wisdom, the sacredness that our Saint of God brought here.
Sometimes I would get so caught up in the “have-to’s” that one day I walked all of the way down to the gate, went outside of it and then walked through the open gate. I walked slowly thinking of Mother Theodore walking on this very sacred ground — simply a dark forest. I felt her warmth. I felt her strength. I felt her discouragement but then I could see her with the grace of Providence. She was able to jump up and down and share her passion with the world that surrounded us. And here we are.
So for the next team: bring your gifts and talents. Take your walks on this sacred ground. Feel Saint Mother Theodore’s heart pounding within your heart and continue to pray. Continue to live the charism of love, mercy and justice. My friends, Debbie and Sue, you will lead the associates to a greater height within themselves. I know you will!
Are you being called? Now is the time to apply to become a Providence Associate in the coming year!