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A reflection for Feast of Pentecost 2020

Very early on in my ministry as the director of communications of the Sisters of Providence, I overheard my “boss,” Sister Eileen Ann Kelley, say of me, “Oh, Dawn is so enthusiastic!”

“Enthusiastic?” I said to myself. “Enthusiastic? What about creative? Or well-organized? Or a good writer? Or a good thinker? Or any of the attributes that might be thought of as necessary for a good director of communications? But enthusiastic?”

Years later, I stumbled upon this definition of enthusiasm: “The word ‘enthusiasm’ comes from two Greek words: ‘en,’ meaning ‘within,’ and ‘theos,’ meaning ‘God.” So the word ‘enthusiasm’ literally means ‘God within!’”

I am not sure that is what Sister Eileen Ann had in mind when she said I was enthusiastic, but it is certainly something toward which to strive – to act out of the belief that God’s Holy Spirit is within each one of us. To be enthusiastic!

The Feast of Pentecost reminds us that this is so.

As we prayed as a leadership team before our General Council meeting the other day, we acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic was certainly draining our spirits. It is as if we are walking on eggshells, waiting for the next shoe to drop. We are washing our hands and wearing our masks and keeping our distance and, at the same time, praying from a place deep down inside of us that all will be well for us and for the world.

We remembered the Pentecost story, and we prayed for an infusion of the Holy Spirit.

We reminded ourselves that following an experience of community and communion in the upper room, those followers of Jesus were so filled with God’s spirit that they went forth together and changed the world.

That is what enthusiasm can enable us to do.

God calls us today to do what the disciples did 2,000 years ago – to create communities of love – where the hungry are fed, the sick are healed, sins are forgiven and where fear of the other is replaced with understanding and acceptance.

On this Feast of Pentecost, there is much that is hard to understand – why in a nation of plenty, children go hungry; why some groups of people die more frequently of COVID-19 than others, simply because they do not have the same access to health care; why prejudice allows sin to continue to triumph; why the debate over the wearing of masks in public seems symbolic of the deep divide among us as a nation.

We need an infusion of the Holy Spirit.

God gives us today the power He gave to those disciples of long ago – the enthusiasm to create communities of love.

Let us pray from a place deep down inside of us to receive and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful,

kindle in us the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created

and you shall renew the face of the earth.

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Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski was elected General Superior of the Sisters of Providence in 2016. She has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. Previously she ministered as a teacher, as communication and development director for the sisters and their ministries and as a member of elected leadership on the general council of the Sisters of Providence.

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5 Comments

  1. Paula Modaff, SP on May 31, 2020 at 10:08 am

    Thank you, Dawn, for inviting us to let our enthusiasm be a source of hope during this time of quarantine.

  2. Jane Fischer, PA on May 31, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    Enthusiasm! I put that word on my refrigerator……colored pencils and felt tip! Drew a flower and wrote Hosannah in the Highest.

    Sister Dawn and all SPs,
    Danke, Merci, Gracias, Xie Xie, Gloria and Thank you!
    Jane PA

  3. PAULA DAMIANO, SP on June 1, 2020 at 11:37 am

    I appreciate your enthusiasm and believe it is the “God within” who motivates you!
    Thank you for that gift you so willingly share.

  4. Carolyn Kessler, SP on June 1, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Pentecost is such a beautiful feast when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the tremendous Force in our lives. ‘Enthusiasm’ captures it well! Thanks for sharing, Dawn.

  5. Editha Ben on June 2, 2020 at 3:16 am

    Your profound reflection, Dawn, inspires me to open up to the gift of the Holy Spirit to be enthusiastic amidst uncertainties. Thanks for your contagious enthusiasm.

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