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A look back on 50 years as a Sister of Providence

Sister Marianne Ridgell, right, with Providence Associate Carol Passmore during a summer gathering.

Editor’s note: Our National Vocation Awareness Week blog posts continue as Sister Marianne shares her story.

This past summer in June, I celebrated 50 years as a Sister of Providence. In the months leading up to this celebration, thoughts of God’s fidelity and grace throughout these years permeated my thoughts. I knew that only with God’s Providence backing me up at all times had it been possible to have gone through so many ministries, lived with so many sisters, and served so many persons. So, I considered my Golden Jubilee to be about God’s fidelity to me.

I have had ministries in teaching, at Catholic Charities, in pastoral work in parishes with Anglo and with Hispanic communities. Several years ago, someone gave me a plaque that said, ‘The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.’ I find this saying to be most applicable when I find myself in challenging situations searching for deeper faith to make sense of why I am there.

Celebrating 50 years as Sisters of Providence in 2018 are, from back left, Sisters Jody O’Neil, Jan Craven and Marianne Ridgell. Celebrating 25 years are, seated, Sisters Kathleen Bernadette Smith and Patricia Linehan.

One of my most challenging times was working in Arcadia, Florida, immediately after Hurricane Charley destroyed so much of the town. It was August of 2004, and the recovery conditions were very difficult to work in. The heat index was over 100 degrees, and we worked outside distributing supplies. The suffering of the people was indescribable, as many lost everything. I learned what ministry of presence meant, because in many cases we were just there offering water, supplies and food alongside many dedicated volunteers. We had to stop the operations outside to deal with two more hurricanes in a six-week period. Such is life in Florida sometimes!


My current ministry is with Home Instead Senior Care. I love the mission of this company. There are offices all over the USA as well as internationally. We assist people to remain in their homes as long as possible instead of having to go into assisted living facilities. My job is to train and offer orientation to caregivers when they begin. I also teach classes for ongoing education and professional development of the caregivers.

I love this ministry because we try to make life better for the elderly as they are dealing with loss and diminishment in their physical abilities.

My years in the Sisters of Providence community have been, and continue to be, such a gift. Each day is another opportunity to serve others and bring hope. I realize that any good I do is God’s work, not mine.

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Sister Marianne Ridgell

Sister Marianne Ridgell

Sister Marianne Ridgell is originally from Arlington, Virginia. She entered the Sisters of Providence in 1968. She holds bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and education and master’s degrees in Spanish and in counseling. Among her ministries have been teacher, pastoral associate, Catholic Charities and staff trainer for caregivers. Her current ministry is driver/ companion at Saint Mary-of-the- Woods since 2020. Sister Marianne enjoys reading, writing poetry and walking.

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  1. Avatar S. Denise Wilkinson on November 5, 2018 at 8:15 am

    A lovely refection, Marianne. Thank you.

  2. Avatar Betty Sloan on November 5, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Thank you for being a witness to God’s love….

  3. Avatar Lisa Herlache on November 5, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Your work is such a cherished blessing to many!

  4. Avatar Marsha Speth, SP on November 5, 2018 at 11:31 am

    Training other caregivers sounds like a perfect ministry for you, Marianne!
    Yes, indeed, God is faithful!!

  5. Avatar Mary Lynn Stanton on November 5, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    You are a blessing to all who know you and you sure know how to spread the joy!

  6. Avatar Barbara Sheehan on November 6, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Thanks, Marianne. This is wonderful.

  7. Avatar Susan Paweski, SP on November 7, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    Wonderful insight that your jubilee is a gift of God’s fidelity to you and gives witness to your fidelity to God! Thank you, Marianne!

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