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Blessed Sacrament Chapel: transforming hearts through prayer

Sister Alice Ann Rhinesmith and Providence Associate Mickie Lane-Fredericks share an hour of prayer weekly in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. The two have grown close as a result of their shared prayer time.

“In the silence and in the quietness, that is where we come to know God, come to know presence. Our own presence, which is part of God. And to know God, the great mystery,” says Providence Associate Christine Boyle.

Christine said she read that from the mystics. Lately, she has experienced it herself.

In December Christine became one of the first non-Sisters of Providence to begin taking regular prayer hours in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

A long tradition

Devotion to prayer before Jesus, present in the Eucharist, has been a tradition of the Sisters of Providence since the 1840 founding by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. The first thing she and her sisters did when arriving at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods was to “visit our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.”

In 1924, the breathtaking Blessed Sacrament Chapel was dedicated at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. For many years a sister or sisters prayed each hour for 24 hours in the chapel. In more recent years, sisters pray in the chapel from 7 to 11 a.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m. daily. The chapel is also open to visitors during those times.

Sister Mary Rita Griffin coordinates the prayer schedule there. As sisters age and have become fewer, Sister Mary Rita was determined not to reduce the prayer hours in the chapel further. In fact, her goal is to have two people praying each hour the chapel is open.

“To me, of all of the ministries we have, it’s especially important. Because it’s the prayer of the faithful, really. It’s the ministry I most love. The prayer ministry here is really what calls me,” Sister Mary Rita said of this and her ministry as the coordinator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Providence.

Calling Providence Associates

So Sister Mary Rita got permission and began inviting Providence Associates to also take hours in the chapel. Providence Associates are women and men of faith who have committed themselves to be in relationship with the Sisters of Providence.

Sister Mary Rita thought it a perfect fit. “It’s kind of what the goal of the Providence Associates is — to be part of the Sisters of Providence and continue our mission.”

Christine was one of the first Providence Associates to sign up. She has been praying for an hour every Friday morning in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel for six months. In July she began a second hour on Saturday as well.

“It’s always so peaceful and so uplifting. It just seems to set everything right. It’s like an anchor for me,” she says of her prayer time in the chapel.

“Something that I really love about it is that we pray for people in the Blessed Sacrament Association. It’s such an honor to pray for the people that have requested the prayer. Because I know the times that I have requested prayer from the Sisters of Providence and how much it has meant to me. You feel very close to the people,” she said.

The best hour

Mickie Lane-Fredericks is another Providence Associate who has been praying for an hour every week in the chapel since last winter.

“It’s the best hour of my week,” she says of her time in the chapel.

“Because it’s on Monday, it is just a wonderful way to begin the week. It centers me for the rest of the week.”

“In this day and age and the world we live in — so fast moving — I believe prayer is very important, most important. I get back so much more than I ever give. I get a deeper faith. I’m just a better person for it. And it really gives me a lot of peace and comfort,” Mickie said.

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel itself is a special place, both women assert.

“All the praying and love expressed by the sisters in there, now I think it’s about 94 years — it is just palpable — you feel that and you are so uplifted by it. It’s just rich, like gold, in there,” Christine says.

She says the place has helped her find focus.

“Yes, God’s presence is everywhere — someone pointed that out to me. But there is a focus of presence in there. There is something that you can just keep bringing your presence back to. It’s really incredible. That’s quite a gift. Because otherwise my mind is just here there and everywhere. The host, it draws me back.

“And I think that focus could extend to how you act in the world. Because yes, I know God is everywhere. I know that in theory. But am I really behaving that way? With my neighbors, with everyone? I think this is a place where that transformation can take place,” Christine said.

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel and its ministry of prayer is a tradition passed on to the Providence community by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. It’s a tradition that continues to transform hearts and the world today.

Are you a Providence Associate who would like to sign up for regular prayer hours in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel? Contact Sister Mary Rita Griffin at mgriffin@spsmw.org or 812-535-2927.

Not a Providence Associate yet but interested in being one? Learn more at ProvidenceAssociates.org

 

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

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Mission Advancement office. Amy is a 1998 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She currently manages the SP publication HOPE and works on marketing support for Providence Associates, new membership and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

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