Get to know Providence Associate Beverly Okey
Tell about yourself:
My husband, Bill, and I have been married 42 years. While we have no children, we have always been very close to our five nieces and nephews and now their children (our great nieces and nephews) are like our grandchildren — all 10 of them. We live in Newburgh, Indiana, and are part of St. John the Baptist Parish.
Bill and I are from Indianapolis and we both attended IUPUI at the same time and even though we had classes together we really didn’t know each other. We were introduced by a mutual friend (a Sister of Providence), who always took great relish in the fact that we were the longest matchmaking effort she had. We moved to Sarasota, Florida, right after we married, and after 10 years moved back to Newburgh to be closer to our family. (We both thought of our time in Florida as semi-retirement since we worked on the beach at two different condominiums.)
We are both retired now and enjoy our times of traveling and spur of the moment adventures. I worked for 25 years as director of RCIA at our parish, along with other ministry duties. I am still involved in some home visitation, a Prayer Shawl Ministry, our Prayer Group, and Bible Study/Spirituality Group. I enjoy biking, hiking, reading, gardening, painting and photography. I became a Providence Associate in 2007 and I am part of a wonderful Circle of Associates from the Evansville area.
Someone getting to know me should understand:
I am a very good listener — and may seem quiet.
I have a dry sense of humor — and always enjoy a good laugh.
I try to see the big picture of most situations — and may not seem immediately to agree with you.
Something that most people do not know about me is:
I enjoy fishing. My husband has taught me the peace of sitting in a boat (for hours) waiting for the “feel of the strike” and beginning the tension of landing the fish — or not. It is a time, also, to appreciate being surrounded by the beauty and peace of nature and how quickly the weather can change. Fishing has become a real lesson of life and even gives us a chance to talk quietly. I have even been taught to bait my own hook.
Three things that bring me joy are:
Sharing moments little and big with my husband, family and friends
Traveling and sharing the stories and photos
Learning something new — and doing it
My three greatest strengths are:
How did you come to know the Sisters of Providence and what drew you to the Providence Associate relationship?
I have known the Sisters of Providence since grade school at Immaculate Heart of Mary, Indianapolis, through high school at St. Agnes Academy, Indianapolis, and at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. During those years I met many wonderful, spirit-filled and dedicated women who helped shape me at these various times in my life and gave me the foundation of understanding “Providence.“ I entered the Sisters of Providence Community in 1968 for four years. It was a wonderful four years filled with much love, spirituality and grounding, and it gave me the opportunity to realize that it wasn’t exactly for me. When the Providence Associates were formed in 2006, I realized that God was inviting me to become part of the community and jumped at the opportunity.
Tell about your experience as a Providence Associate.
As a Providence Associate, I have deepened my relationship with God, (my husband and I begin our days with the Morning Prayer of the Divine Office), the sisters, my Circle, and other Associates and my family and friends. I have been able to invite other men and women to look into what it might mean for them to learn about the Providence Associates. I have always lived my life with a sense of intention. It seems Providential to me that we live in Newburgh, Indiana. I have often wondered how it must have looked along the Ohio River as Mother Theodore journeyed by Newburgh on her way to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
In what ways is the Providence Associate relationship life giving?
The Providence Relationship is life giving for me because of the sense of being part of something larger than myself — being part of a community of like-minded people, praying together and working toward shared goals. We do not have to change what we are doing necessarily, but live our lives with a shared sense of support and prayer that helps us to engage more effectively in what we do. It also gives us the opportunity to be of assistance to the sisters and the SP community in many ways.
What are the challenges of being a Providence Associate?
One of my challenges in being a Providence Associate is not being able to make it to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for all the get-togethers and retreats. Life’s schedule and family commitments often do come first. I am so grateful to be able to join in those times via live stream.
Who was your companion in becoming a Providence Associate?
My companion is Sister Mary Lois Hennel who I have known longer than I have been an associate. It was only natural that I ask her to be my companion. She has been and continues to be a joy to be around and share with. She has such a wealth of spirituality, knowledge and common sense. She has an easy going “providential” way of looking at and sharing life. She will be celebrating her 73rd anniversary as an SP this year.
How do you live out your commitment to the Providence Associate relationship?
I strive each day to live with a sense of intention. I start my day with the Morning Offering (taught to me in grade school). I have become more aware through the passing years of the power of this prayer for me. Throughout the day, I recall this prayer and strive to be aware of what the moment may hold. I ask myself, “Do I really want to offer this particular word, thought or action to God?” It helps me to see myself more realistically and to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly” Micah 6:8 — or to practice Love, Mercy and Justice.
What does being a Providence Associate mean to you?
Being a Providence Associate to me is to be the visible sign of a woman who believes that relationship with God comes first and to put the love of that relationship into a visible attitude in all thought, words and actions.
A long time ago, in grade school, I was given a medal blessed by Pope John XXIII. I still have that medal. When I was in high school, the Second Vatican Council was formed. Pope John XXIII said part of the reason he called it together was “to make the human sojourn on earth a little less sad.” I have been reflecting on these words and recently have come to realize that we are each called to make our world a little less sad. The Providence Associates is that message made visible.
What are your hopes for the Providence community into the future?
Quite simply, I hope the Providence community grows and flourishes. The Providence community gives a balance of prayer and action in the world. The thread that connects us is being part of a community of disciples who treasure, declare and mature in the messages of Saint Mother Theodore and Our Lady of Providence. God uses each of us to spend our lives simply doing what we do with this deeper intention to be visible signs of His mission: to Love all equally, show Mercy in every situation and promote Justice in our world.
What a wonderful story of the Associate, Beverly. Being with her at gatherings is always a delight!