Awards dinner honors time, talent and treasure
View the event’s photo album here.
General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski welcomed 226 guests to the June 2 Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner, noting that the annual event has become a very important way for us to thank our many benefactors for being instruments of God’s loving care for us. The theme of the evening was Together in Mission.
Five speakers — Bill Hughes from Terre Haute, IN; David Illyes from Marshall, IL; Nancy Kremer from Chicago, Tara Lane from Paris, IL; and Tim Spreitzer from Indianapolis, IN. — presented how each of them forwards and supports the mission of the Congregation and how that translates into their daily lives.
Special 2018 awards are presented in the course of the evening. The first award was the Queen Amelia Award – named for the French queen who, in 1843, when Mother Theodore returned to France to raise money for her mission, gave Mother Theodore advice and a financial gift to cover her ship passage for her journey home and asked family members to do the same.
Paul J. Adams, III, of Chicago received this award. Paul has a 47-year history with the Sisters of Providence, dating back to the years as guidance counselor at Providence St. Mel High School in Chicago. In 1978 when neither the Sisters of Providence nor the Archdiocese of Chicago could keep the school operating, Paul brokered a deal with then-General Superior Sister Loretta Schafer to sell the school to him.
Paul received the award because of his financial support of the Congregation over many years and his embracing of our charism of trust in Providence. What started out as Paul’s concern for high school youth expanded over the years and now the school is preschool through grade 12. This year Providence St. Mel celebrates 40 years of 100-percent acceptance of its senior graduates into four-year colleges.
The second award presented was the Sarah and Joseph Thralls award. When Mother Theodore and her five sister companions arrived in the dense forest of Indiana in 1840, they were homeless immigrants, not knowing the language or the culture. Local farmers Sarah and Joseph Thralls offered them lodging and, we assume, spent hours with the sisters to help them learn English and the farming, gardening and other skills they desperately needed to survive.
The Sarah and Joseph Thralls award is given each year to individuals who gift the Congregation with presence, and share extraordinary gifts of time, expertise and resources. This year Providence Associates Jude Magers and Donna Watzke of Indianapolis were award recipients.
Jude’s expertise lies in the area of facilitation, strategic planning, along with expertise in health and dementia care. Donna serves on the Mission Advisory Board and the Providence Cristo Rey Board, where she shares valuable insights and creative solutions. And as Associates — Jude since 2013 and now on their Advisory Board and Donna since 2007 — they have been the backbone of many Providence Associate activities and prime movers in the development of Providence Circles. As part of their associate commitment, they are involved in monthly prison ministry at the US Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute.
The final awards of the evening were five Companions Awards, so named to honor the five companions who came with Mother Theodore from France and remained her faithful supporters through difficult times. Selection of award recipients is made by the leadership team from nominations by our sisters, Providence Associates and ministry partners.
April and Don “Brad” Bradley from California have supported our Providence in the Desert ministry there for the past 15 years. Both serve on its board where Brad’s experience and expertise in the technical and legal fields has been a godsend. April is a Providence Associate and director Sister Carol Nolan’s right hand person for projects, tasks, deliveries to those in need and the like. They also financially support the ministry and the Congregation.
Chicago’s 8th Day Center for Justice Staff was recognized for its 17-year passion for its mission and for persevering through challenges. Even in the toughest of times, they have persevered in standing for what is just, and have continued to do so long after many other groups have given up on an issue. Like Mother Theodore’s companions, they have been criticized for their actions and for their beliefs, sometimes even by the institutions and individuals that they hold most dear.
Barbara Cottrell of Chicago was recognized for her faithful service on the SP Anti-Racism Committee for many years. As a woman of color, she spoke authentically and courageously to a group of mostly white Sisters of Providence about the need to change our attitudes, our very selves in order for true racial justice to become a reality in our institutions and ministries. She continues to serve on the Peace with Justice Coordinating Commission,working to ensure that her passion to eradicate racism will remain front and center in the SP justice efforts.
Father Dan Hopcus has stood by our Congregation since being named our chaplain in 2002. For the past 16 years, he has faithfully served our sisters as sacramental minister and as a compassionate, pastoral presence to them and to all residents in Providence Health Care. Sister Dawn noted, “Dan, you ‘get’ the Sisters of Providence! You are part of the fabric of our lives, both sisters and associates! You understand and are committed to promoting our values as a Congregation of women religious.”
Magdalena “Maggie” Martinez also hails from Chicago, where she is active in the Providence Family Services ministry. Over the past 24 years she has been present for and worked at every rummage sale, every board meeting, every celebration. On these boards. and when her opinion was sought at other times, she offered her considerable insights and wisdom. Sister Dawn commented, “Maggie, you live the mission of the Sisters of Providence! You spread God’s Providence and works of love, mercy and justice to those most needy.”
Enjoy the dinner’s entire photo album!