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Ask Sister Dina: How many Sisters of Providence are there and what are their roles?

Editor’s note: This is the first in our column series of “Ask Sister Dina.” Sister Dina Bato, SP, is now answering your questions about spirituality, being a sister today, justice, you name it, here on the Sisters of Providence blog. Do you have a question you have always wanted to “Ask a Sister?” Ask Sister Dina here.

Dear Sister Dina,

Are you ready? Curious how many Sisters of Providence are there? How many live at the college, how many live off campus and what are some of the “duties/roles” that you participate in both on and off the campus? I’ve always wondered and now I get a chance to ask! Thank you. 
– From Annette Maher Powell via Facebook

Dear Annette,

Thank you so much for your questions. To date, we are 238 Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. But as you know, not all of us live on the motherhouse grounds. I use those words specifically because there is a difference between the motherhouse grounds (which we lovingly call “The Woods”) and that of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Both were started by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, but they are two separate legal entities. Of the 238 Sisters, 102 live on the motherhouse grounds. 136 live elsewhere in various parts of North America and Asia.

A photo of Sisters of Providence and Providence Associates taken during the 2018 Annual Meeting.

As far as “duties/roles,” we each discern the ministries we participate in (both at the Woods and away). We discern with members of the Sisters of Providence, especially our General Officers, as well as with other people in our lives (such as Providence Associates, family members, and trusted friends). Our ministry discernment, like the rest of our life, is conducted prayerfully. It incorporates our gifts, talents, skills, passions, and abilities, the needs of our community and the needs of society. Guided by our vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the life to which we are called, we each endeavor to live out with integrity and enthusiasm our mission. The mission of the Sisters of Providence to collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy.

Some ministry areas in which Sisters of Providence serve include serving within the Congregation or within the Catholic Church in parishes or arch/diocesan ministries. Other sisters serve in spiritual direction, education, social and outreach services and healthcare, among other areas. If you’d like to learn more about our ministries, please check out How We Serve on our Sisters of Providence website.

My ministries

My primary ministry is currently in Chicago as the Mission & Ministry Coordinator for Resurrection University. The University is an upper level nursing and health sciences university that educates primarily non-traditional students. (The average age of our student body is 30.) In this ministry I endeavor to preach (through my gifts and example) Gospel values through programming and presence driven by Service, Education, Reflection and Prayer. This, like all ministry, involves discerning how to “sow generously,” especially with and among a diverse group of students, faculty, and staff.  

I also participate in Giving Voice, “a peer led organization that creates spaces for younger women religious [under the age of 50 around the US] to give voice to their hopes, dreams and challenges in religious life.” I currently serve on the Development Committee.

Since entering the Sisters of Providence in 2008, I have participated in a variety of ministries at the Woods. Among these are volunteering in the Central Business Office, Providence Health Care and a number of events on the motherhouse grounds. I had previously served on our Providence Associate Advisory Board and currently serve on our Congregational Finance Committee.

Serving where we are called

In a nutshell, we all live and minister where God individually and communally calls us. We endeavor to do what God individually and communally calls us to do. As Mother Theodore said, “We cannot do our work if we all stay in the nest.” Our ministries, like the Church, have evolved over time and will continue to evolve. Our ultimate duties involve manifesting God’s mission of Providence as we are called here on Earth for the common (global) good.

Annette, I hope these answers address your questions and/or spawn more inquiries. Thank you again for your questions. Please know that I hold you in prayer.

Peace and blessings,

Sr. Dina Bato, SP

Do you have a question you would like to ask Sister Dina? Submit your questions here.

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Sister Dina Bato

Sister Dina Bato

Sister Dina Bato has been a Sister of Providence since 2008. She has a master's degree in pastoral theology and a bachelor's degree in accounting. Sister Dina is active in ministry with young adults including her local Nuns & Nones gatherings as well as with Giving Voice, the Voices of Younger Women Religious. She enjoys walking with people on their spiritual journeys as well as reading, cooking, and playing music.

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  1. Avatar Donna Butler on July 18, 2020 at 6:48 am

    A great idea! Thank you for taking on this responsibility. I have a feeling you will be busy answering questions. Good job!

  2. Avatar S. Mary Ann Phelan on July 18, 2020 at 11:31 am

    I really love that you are doing this. It helps all of us to keep up to date while at the same time you introduce us to others. Mary Ann Phelan

  3. Avatar Diane Estringel on July 18, 2020 at 11:51 am

    Sr. Dina,
    Thank you so much for the article. What a great day.
    Diana Estringel PA

    • Avatar Charles Fisher on August 10, 2020 at 7:48 am

      Sr. Dina,
      This is another avenue of Ministry that more and more People of God will enjoy. The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods IN have been present to so very many inquirers for over 175 years. Your contributions, Sr. Dina, are welcomed and further the Mission of The Sisters among The People.
      Thank you!
      Chuck Fisher, PA

  4. Avatar Judy Copeland on July 18, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    I’m just curious as to how the Superior General was formerly addressed as “Mother”changed from “Mother” to General Superior and why.

    Thank you,

    Judy Copeland

  5. Avatar Susan Paweski, SP on July 22, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    Thank you, S. Dina. This is an excellent out reach .
    S Sue

  6. Avatar Brother Henry Gaither, S.C. on January 8, 2021 at 8:52 am

    Hello Sr. Dina,

    I sent an email on my phone — but I don’t trust it for emails.
    I attended Ascension School in Halethorpe, MD from 1953 to 1957. There are two of your sisters who taught me
    who I could not find I did find Sr. Mary Lee Metler and Sr. Ann Renee Maxwell. The two that I could not locate are
    Sr. Madeline Therese and Sr. Stella Marie. They taught me in 4th and 5th grade.
    Please contact me if you can locate that information. I would like to send it on to a couple of my classmates.
    Sincerely, Bro. Henry Gaither, S.C.

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