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Sisters Jan Craven and Paula Damiano: What does it mean to you to be a Catholic Sister Today?

Note: Here is the third blog in our series celebrating Catholic Sisters Week, which concludes on March 14, 2020. During the week, many sisters will share here on our blog what being a sister means to them. Sister Paula Damiano and Sister Jan Craven have written the third of such blog posts below.

Sister Paula Damiano (with microphone) and Sister Jan Craven during the presentation of a workshop.

Sister Paula Damiano, co-director, Providence Spirituality & Conference Center

Sister Paula Damiano

“Sign of hope.” … that’s what it means to be a Catholic sister in today’s world. There’s just so much division, injustice, suffering, struggle. I see religious women living with hope and helping others to regain hope.

For me, that means striving for unity in whatever ways I can. I belong to a community action group, “Interfaith Council of the Wabash Valley.” This group, comprised of persons from many varying faith traditions, fosters interfaith respect and cooperation and advocates for tolerance, opposes prejudice, intimidation, and other hate incidents and crimes.

It’s one small group in one small city making some small efforts at being hope. But, these small efforts can and perhaps will make a big difference to someone’s life.

Sister Jan Craven, co-director, Providence Spirituality & Conference Center

Sister Jan Craven

What it means to be a Sister of Providence … my vocation story is all about “trying something to see if it fits!” When I was 18 … fresh out of high school, I said I would “try” religious life … for a month … to see if it fits!

I thought you could not “try” marriage for a month! (What did I know ??? Rudolph Valentino was married for six hours in 1919 … but I did not know that when I was 18.)

Obviously … the month has lasted 52 years … so, I know it is a good fit. Today, being in a religious congregation whose mission and ministry is all about love, mercy and justice can only be about freedom. Freedom to be mercy … to love tenderly … and to act justly! I have the freedom to choose how I live out those concepts and I have a history of standing on the shoulders of great women who were driven by the very same three motivators … beginning with Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

I love to teach … and so to interact with people who come for programs, retreats, tours, spiritual direction, workshops, or other events only gives me life … it never depletes my energy. I love to learn … and being a religious sister today, one cannot help but learn each and every step of the way from fellow journeyers … those on the same path of love, mercy and justice. Who are they? Anyone and everyone who believes in a God of love, mercy and justice and has that as the guiding lens … the driving force behind all that we do.

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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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2 Comments

  1. Marsha Speth on March 10, 2020 at 6:52 am

    Thank you both for being such good teachers and bearers of hope!

  2. Mary Ryan on March 14, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    Jan and Paula,
    Thank you for expressing it so well, what it means to be a Catholic Sister. Hope is something that the world needs at this time in our history and as Sisters we need to be role models for others.

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