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Bonded with the Sisters of Providence as a Providence Associate

Bill Hughes shares his experience living out the Providence Associate relationship with the Sisters of Providence during their annual meeting.

I do lots of reading. And I always read with a pencil or pen in hand to underline and to write in the margins — questions, my opinions, other resources, or just some humorous or “snarky” reactions I might wish to get off my chest.

I was equipped like that when I read the Winter 2018 issue of HOPE magazine, titled “The bonds that unite us.” I noticed myself underlining words and phrases that described the bonds that I feel unite me with the Sisters of Providence and my fellow Providence Associates. In just the first few pages I underlined: “… rely on prayer, quiet, action and play in our daily lives” … “ forward-thinking individuals” … “a God who calls each one in the circumstances of his/her individual life to be the transformative presence of Providence” … “what an inheritance we have received” … “contemplative, personal prayer.”

Someone in the associates circle I attend, a small group of sisters and Providence Associates who meet regularly, described a sister’s reaction to compliments she was receiving about the sisters’ way of life, especially their prayer life and their contemplative way of seeing and being active in the world. The sister responded, “You know we don’t come that way. We practice!” Indeed, they do.

Contemplation and discernment

The bond that inspires me most is that contemplative stance and the role it plays in the process of discernment within the community. It has been my privilege on several occasions to witness that process and even to participate in it. As issues are studied and actions planned, time is given for silence, thoughtful individual and group reflection, careful listening, and open communication. As I learn more about the sisters’ foundress Saint Mother Theodore, as I get to know more sisters and make my way through the rich resources the sisters provide, I encounter ample evidence of their openness to change, their inclusiveness, and their dedication to speaking their values clearly to today’s culture. From Love, Mercy, and Justice: A Book of Practices of the Sisters of Providence: “While we are anchored in a common identity … that identity is constantly taking on the colors of the times in which we live and the contemporary work we do.”

And from that same resource, these prayers:

“Provident God, in the confusion of the many possibilities presented to us by world events, by nature itself, and rising out of our own person, lead us to a place of quiet prayer so that we can recognize your Spirit moving in our midst and discern how we are being called to witness to your active presence and care.”

“Provident God, as the world’s needs evolve around us … let us be both observant and flexible to the needs of love, mercy and justice in those whose lives are entrusted to us.”

The sisters hold a legacy of wisdom that today’s culture desperately needs, and I am grateful for the privilege of being bonded to the community of sisters and associates. Join us?

Learn more at ProvidenceAssociates.org

 

(Originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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William Hughes

William Hughes is retired from a career as a professor of music at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. He is a member St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Terre Haute. Bill has been a Providence Associate since 2012.

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