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Sisters recognize benefactors at annual dinner

More than 275 benefactors joined the Sisters of Providence for a meal and award presentation during the 19th annual Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on Saturday, June 8.

The dinner takes place to honor benefactors for their gifts of time, talent and resources, while also presenting the Queen Amelia, Sarah and Joseph Thralls, and the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Companion awards.

“Our theme for this year’s dinner was ‘Embracing our Emerging Future,’ a theme borrowed from the work of our 2016 Sisters of Providence General Chapter, where we set direction for our future as a community,” Sisters of Providence General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski said. “When we think about the future, we certainly try to envision what that future might look like. But importantly, when we think about the future, I believe we envision – the who – who will share that future with us, who will help ensure that the mission entrusted to us by Providence will not only continue but thrive.”

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski recognizing the late Marianne J. Murphy at the 2019 Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner as the recipient of the Queen Amelia Award.

The Queen Amelia Award honors those who have significantly contributed financially to the Congregation and who have been influential in informing others of its life and mission. The award is named for Queen Amelia of France, wife of King Louis Philippe, who was a major benefactor for the Congregation in the mid-1800s. She also encouraged her husband and family to contribute to the Congregation, which at the time, was struggling financially.

This year, the Congregation recognized Marianne J. Murphy of Fishers, Indiana, for the award. Murphy, who died on May 20, has had a relationship with the Sisters of Providence since 1994.

“Like Queen Amelia, Marianne has contributed significantly and consistently to the life and mission of the Congregation through the financial support she has offered since she made her first gift to us,” Sister Dawn said. “Following the death of her son, Marianne established a Memorial Trust. She channeled her grief into establishing a legacy that has helped to support the Sisters of Providence.

“All these gifts have been placed in the Sisters of Providence Retirement Trust, such an important source of support, enabling us to take care of our retired sisters who have given their lives in service to others.”

Sister Dawn said the Congregation will always be appreciative for Murphy’s assistance. In April 2019, the Congregation contacted Murphy regarding the award.

“We’re grateful that she knew in some small way before she died how much her support meant to us,” Sister Dawn said. “We will remember that for the past 25 years, Marianne has shown her belief in God’s mission for the Sisters of Providence through her gifts to the Congregation.”

Sister Lisa Stallings (left) and Sister Dawn Tomaszewski with Ray Peña.

The Sarah and Joseph Thralls Award honors individuals, a family or a group that has made significant contributions especially of time, talent and expertise. It is named in honor of the family that offered hospitality by way of a cabin in a dense forest to Mother Theodore and her five companions after they arrived at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840 and continued to assist them as they adjusted to pioneer life in Indiana.

This year, the sisters recognized Ray Peña for the award. Peña, a resident of Terre Haute, has had a relationship with the Congregation for four years through his volunteerism in the facilities management department.

According to Sister Lisa Stallings, Peña has helped with pressure washing, staining, placing interior storm windows, roof maintenance and more.

“Your talents saved us thousands of dollars and your time in service has helped free up maintenance staff for other projects,” Sister Lisa said. “We believe Sarah and Joseph Thralls would be impressed with your service.”

The Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Companions Award was established in honor of Sisters St. Vincent Ferrer, Basilide Seneschal, Olympiade Boyer, Mary Xavier Leree and Mary Liguori Tiercin, the five sister companions who supported Mother Theodore and remained by her side assisting her as needed while offering their own wisdom and perseverance to advance the mission.

This year, the Congregation recognized Father Ray Brenner of Jasper; Renee Kallok of Forest Park, Illinois; Mary Ann Thacker of Vincennes; Mickie Fredericks of Terre Haute; and the Sisters of Providence Security Staff for the award.

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski recognizing Gaye and Phil Kenny at the 2019 Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner for their financial gifts to the Congregation.

The Congregation also recognized Phil and Gaye Kenny from the Chicago area, for their financial gifts of more than $100,000, having their names placed on the Rooted in Providence award plaque in Providence Hall. More than 51 individuals, families, foundations and groups are named on the Rooted in Providence plaque.

Recipients of this award are given a handmade stoneware tile with the word Providence stamped into the stoneware. The Kennys also received the Sarah and Joseph Thralls award in 2012.

“We are grateful for their deep roots as friends and benefactors,” Sister Dawn said.

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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