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Get to know Providence Associate Debra Prieto

Tell about your life so far.

My name is Debbie Prieto and I live in Gary, Indiana. I am currently unemployed (due to a recent lay-off). My work profession has been as an administrative assistant. I live with my father and a sibling.

List things that someone who wants to get to know you should understand about you.

I have a dog. I love to garden, exercise, cook as well as experiment with cooking.

What is something interesting about you that not everybody knows?

In 1996, I was a missionary in Kenya, Africa, for four years. I was a school teacher and taught two courses, office practice and typing and social ethics. My teaching experience came from my profession as an administrative assistant and teaching CCD religion classes in the States.

What are three things that bring you joy?

My faith, my family and no stress.

What would you say are three of your greatest strengths?

I am trustworthy, dedicated and kind-hearted.

What are your favorite ways to spend your time?

Walk for exercise, beach time, private meditation and listening to music.

How did you come to know the Sisters of Providence?

They were in residence at St. Elizabeth Parish/Convent in Van Nuys, California. I met many of them when I was a parishioner at St. Elizabeth. The sisters and I had mutual friends and often we would all go out to dinner. We all ministered together at St. Elizabeth. The sisters are the best friends anyone could ever ask for.

I got to know them better during my nine-month mission discernment. The sisters were very supportive and encouraged me throughout my mission discernment. They took me under their wing. Two nights a week, I would join them for evening prayer where I learned to pray the Office then afterwards I joined them for supper. My time spent with them during discernment definitely had a bearing on my decision to go out on mission. My prayer time became deep as I learned to rely on Providence. Prayer and Providence is what gave me a successful mission experience. 

Sisters of Providence and Providence Associates tour and learn about the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice. From left are: Providence Associate Betty Sloan, Sister Mary Moloney, Providence Associates Debra Prieto and Ezra Meadors and Sister Ellen Kehoe.

What drew you to the Providence Associate relationship?

My dear friend Sister Mary Esther Lane, SP, (now deceased) had mentioned it to me when I visited her after my mission tour. I had some questions about being a Providence Associate and so Sister Mary asked me to pray about it. I spent lots of time in prayer seeking guidance from Providence and then one day I realized that being a Providence Associate would be my next journey in life post mission. The more I prayed about it the more it felt that it was right for me. 

Tell about your experience as a Providence Associate.

When I became a Providence Associate, I spent time at the Woods at least two to three times a year. I enjoyed attending workshops, retreats, visiting the sisters, spending a day walking the grounds or praying in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.  Home responsibilities keep me away from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods more recently. As a Providence Associate I live out my life in service of others which makes me happy. 

In what ways is the relationship life giving?

After any visit for any purpose to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods I feel invigorated when I leave to go home. 

What is your favorite thing about being a Providence Associate?

Friendships and meeting new Providence Associates are always delightful. Events, liturgies, or spiritual exercises that I have attended have left me refreshed.

What are the challenges of being a Providence Associate?

Not being able to attend events/meetings/gatherings as often as I would like to.

Who was your companion in becoming a Providence Associate? Tell us about that process.

Providence Associates Ezra Meadors and Debra Prieto.

I had two companions. Sister Mary Esther Lane and Sister Evelyn Ovalles. I live a far distance from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, which is where Sister Mary Esther Lane lived. Sister Evelyn lived in Merrillville, Indiana, much closer to Gary, Indiana, where I live. I would visit Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and speak by telephone. Sister Evelyn and I and another Providence Associate would meet for a meal and share in conversations.

How does the distance you live from the Woods affect your being in relationship with the sisters?

Distance definitely affects my visits to the Woods, as it is a three-hour drive for me and then the time difference is an issue also. Sometimes I feel disconnected, but I realize my relationship is not just visiting the Woods but most importantly the ministries I carry on from day-to-day in my life journey.

How do you live out your commitment to the Providence Associate relationship?

1.  Daily care to my 91-year-old father.
2.  Ministering to the home-bound by bringing Eucharist every Sunday. 
3.  Lending a listening ear to friends who are experiencing family issues.
4.  At times I give emotional support to a friend who is a cancer patient.

What does being a Providence Associate mean to you?

It means walking with God in my life journey, leaning on Providence for support. 

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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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7 Comments

  1. S. Rita Clare Gereardot on July 23, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Debra, thanks for sharing so much about your life and your relationship with the SP’s. We are so happy that you are an associate and able to be part of our mission as you daily carry on you ministries to many, including your dad.

    Gratefully,
    S. Rita Clare

  2. Paula Modaff, S.P. on July 23, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Debra, your story is so inspiring to me. You fully participate because your heart is with our Providence community. Please know of my prayer with you as you continue to care for your father and to be in touch with Providence as you are able. I remember you especially when we pray our reunion, our prayer of non-violence, and celebrate Eucharist.
    with much love, your sister,
    Paula

  3. Cynthia Solis on July 23, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    Wow! Deb I am so proud to call you my cousin. I couldn’t agree more with the questions/answers replies. God Bless you and your family. Love you

  4. Susan Paweski, SP on July 24, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Debra. I am grateful to you for sharing your journey to become a Providence Associate. As I continue to become acquainted with more associates, I am continually impressed with how people respond to the urgings of Providence. Your embrace of the associate relationship is another witness to the importance of our sisters and associates asking others to consider becoming a Providence Associate. Thank you, Debra!

  5. Eileen Horan on July 25, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    Debra, thank you so much for sharing your story! I look forward to hopefully seeing you at the Woods in the future and sharing some “PA time” together!

  6. Sister Barbara Bluntzer, SP on July 27, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    You have lived such a full life….and it’s not over yet! I am so glad I took the time to read about you, how this journey has impacted you and encouraged you to be close to us Sisters and the other Associates. I hope to meet you the next time you come for a visit.

  7. Jane Fischer on July 28, 2019 at 5:38 am

    Debra, I enjoyed reading about you and your experiences. Let’s talk about teaching typing aka keyboarding sometime……that was a hat I wore too! Like you, I treasure my time at SMW and my friends there. I am in Indiana and those of us so close to The Woods talk often about those who are so far away. Did you get a copy of Against All Odds? If not. Let me know and I will get one out to you. We are all trying to read it this year.
    asdfjkl; spacebar. Livin’ on the homerow……
    Jane

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