Get to know Providence Associate Li-Chih (Maria) Wang Fan
Tell us about your life so far?
I was born, raised, and educated in Taiwan. The Wangs have 6 children (3 of each)! My father was an army colonel. My mother was a teacher and founder of 5 kindergartens. Both of my parents were born, raised, and educated in Mainland China. They were refugees driven to Taiwan towards the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Growing up, we were not financially comfortable. With limited resources, my parents held tightly to two goals for their children: health and education.
In 1974 my husband and I arrived at Indiana University-Bloomington, pursuing post-bachelor degrees. He majored in Mathematics and I majored in Secondary Education and Computer Science. Our professional careers are built upon serving universities. Both of us taught for two years at the Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. In 1983 we moved to Texas for his new career at Texas Christian University (TCU). He is still with TCU and just celebrated his 35th anniversary. In Texas, I first worked for 1.5 years for United Press International in Dallas. I then worked for the University of Texas at Arlington for 24 years in supporting the university’s mission, teaching and research. I retired from the university in 2008.
Faith and family
We are blessed to have a lovely daughter who was born in 1986. Since her graduation from Rice University in Houston, she has been working for an engineering firm in New Hampshire. She is the most precious treasure to us from God.
I was baptized and confirmed at 10 years old. I was a church-goer until 1988. In 2001, I returned to the Church, again being a weekly church-goer. By God’s grace, I was recruited to be a Eucharistic minister in 2005. Immediately upon my retirement in 2008, I fell and shattered my left ankle. During the months of my recovering, I opened and studied the Bible. It was a startling revelation. Not only was I deeply touched by God’s immeasurable love, but, more importantly, I was awakened by the sorrow of my conscious reflections. Since, I learned to pray to God from my heart as Moses did. Over years of practice, I have discovered the truth that God is living and loving. He hears and responds to prayers. With this experience, I am motivated to delve deeper into “life in God and with God.” I wish that I might be Holy Spirit-filled to think, say, and act with God’s wisdom and understanding. I long to be the one God wants me to be! May gracious God lead me onto His way. Thanks be to God!
What first drew you to the Providence Associate relationship?
I met Sister Donna Marie Fu at Indiana University-Bloomington in 1974. We connected from our first encounter and have been in contact ever since. I visited Saint Mary-of-the-Woods a couple of times while studying at IU. In 2004 my family of three drove to the Woods and attended Sister Donna’s jubilee celebration. In June 2011 Sister Donna mentioned the Providence Associates to me on our phone conversation. I visited Sister Donna at the Woods in July 2011. During my week of retreat with her, I read the pamphlets I had collected from the hallways. I prayed and was called to join the associates. I did not know where this call would lead, what I could offer or how I would be shaped. I only knew that with faith, God would lead me once I had responded.
Tell about your experience as a candidate associate. When did you enter? Who was your companion? What did you take from the experience?
I responded to the call at the Woods while I was with Sister Donna in July 2011. I submitted my application in Fall 2011. Next I met Sister Diane Mason, Debbie Dillow, and Sister Barbara Bluntzer via a Skype call and entered as a candidate associate in 2012.
My companion was Sister Barbara Bluntzer. She lived at that time in Corpus Christi, Texas, about 400 miles south of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We used telecommunication in our year-long journey. I studied the Spiritual Integration Units, the best book I have ever read, reflected upon the subjects, did my homework, and emailed Sister Barbara my reflections. Sister Barbara and I then met via phone once a month. I shared the questions and ponderings from my mind and my heart. She never judged me. She loved and encouraged me. She listened and consoled me when I fussed. She laughed out loud with me when we teased or joked with each other. She has a big, humble heart with a great sense of humor. I had a wonderful experience walking with her. It was such a blessing. I appreciate greatly my companion and my friend, Sister Barbara!
How do you live out your commitment to the Providence Associate relationship?
The triad of scriptures, prayer, and action are the pillars of my daily life. I take bible study classes in the fall and spring semesters every year. First thing every morning, I read the daily Mass scriptures and meditations from “The Word Among Us” magazine. The heartfelt daily meditations speak to and inspire me. Oftentimes, I find myself conversing with Jesus after my reading. Through this process, I feel that my relationship with Jesus has grown from a two-dimensional static into a three-dimensional dynamic state. I feel Jesus’ living Spirit and his gentle loving friendship. To him, I can confide my total self without any reservation and/or justification, for he loves me unconditionally.
In terms of action, conscience is the foundation; love, mercy, and justice are the operating principles. With absolutely no doubt, this is much easier said than done! After all and above all, faith is the name of the game in one’s spiritual journey. Walking with God is The WAY. At the difficult time, I try my best to remind myself to, first and foremost, enter into the heart of Provident God and allow Him to work in me through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Though this is a tough and slow process, I know and trust that not only our Provident God never forsakes me, but also “if I lean with all my weight upon Providence, I will find myself well supported”.
What does being a Providence Associate mean to you?
Being a Providence Associate means that I am a daughter of my Mother Theodore. I live, grow up, and grow older with my family, the Sisters of Providence. “Love, mercy and justice” are the family’s root values and the foundation of our education. Consciously, I remember and try my very, very best to practice the teachings of Mother Theodore, which brings her comfort. Being united in prayers and actions with the Sisters and Associates to advance Providence charism and Providence spirituality brings delight to Mother Theodore and our Provident God.
What is your favorite part of being a Providence Associate?
Being a Providence Associate, what I appreciate the most is the positive and supportive energy found in community. This energy cultivates the growth of faith and friendship with our Provident God.
What are your hopes for the future of the Providence community?
I hope we can connect deeper with all sisters and associates and form one united team. Together, we walk cohesively and dedicate ourselves steadfastly to prospering the mission of “being God’s Providence in the world by committing ourselves to works of love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people.”
What do you look forward to as you begin serving on the Providence Associate advisory board?
Being a Providence Associate, I know that I am a loved and welcomed daughter of Mother Theodore in the house of the Sisters of Providence. Moving forward, I wish to learn more about my family, the Sisters of Providence, and settle in deeper with the Congregation. I hope to connect with the members of our family, form one united community, and assist in continually prospering the legacy of Providence.
Anything else you would like to add?
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods is a natural beauty, a spirit-filled and majestic inheritance from Mother Theodore to her children! Above all, I appreciate everyone I come in contact with at the Woods. The kindness and graciousness I have received are memorable gifts. I thank, from my heart, the Sisters of Providence for having me.