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Sisters of Providence who have ministered in Taiwan share their stories

Sister Doreen Lai, SP

“I ministered with physically and mentally disabled children at St. Theresa Opportunity Center in Taiwan.

The grandmother of one of my students, a boy named K-Sing, said to me in Taiwanese one day, ‘I don’t know what it is, but the way you hold my little grandson is different from the other teachers.’ Then she reached out and touched my SP cross, and said: ‘You wear this white cross of your God. I do not know who this God is, but there is a special love in your heart!’”

Sister Paula Damiano, SP

“The number of Sisters of Providence living and doing ministry in Taiwan and China has never been large, but the impact of their work has been enormous! The Sisters of Providence are admired by so many. This was evident when visiting there; people would immediately talk about the good work the sisters have done and continue to do.

My experience is that each sister there cares deeply for the others, despite the normal differences that come from living side by side with one another.”

Sister Editha Ben, SP

“My most memorable and favorite part of living and ministering in Taiwan was meeting international students from various countries and letting them share their cultures, traditions and values with other students at Providence University.

There are only a few SPs serving in Taiwan and yet their presence has an impact: at Providence University especially among the alumni. And because of Miracle Home, an elderly day care, the quality of service is well known in the community.” 

Sister Marilyn Baker, SP

“After having spent so many years in Taiwan, it is so difficult to decide what to say that would encapsulate the difficulties, the wonders, the joy, and the absolute life-changing circumstances that I have had the privilege to experience.

Adapting to a totally different culture and language was a bit daunting. I had many experiences where I needed to lean on Providence, especially since my Chinese language skills were such to keep me humble! Almost any situation where I had to maneuver by myself were occasions that demanded a good sense of humor and grounded me in a constant practice of ‘trust in that Providence which never failed [me]’. (I got very good at “leaning!)”

Sister Janice Smith, SP

Sister Donna Marie knew from her own life experiences how much of a challenge it was to be an immigrant in another country. … So she had a special sensitivity to my struggles. Actually all of our sisters in Taiwan had that understanding of how difficult it is to live in another country since they too had to come and live, at least during their formation years, in the United States.”

Sister Nancy Nolan, SP

“My lack of facility with the language and other’s expectations of me made the year I spent in Taiwan a very difficult one. However, that was not without blessing. In a very real sense, I learned how difficult it is for our Asian sisters to come to the U.S. and be expected not only to adjust but also to manage. It helped me guide future Sisters of Providence as they discerned whether or not to go to Taiwan for ministry and for those Taiwan sisters to discern about coming to the states.”

Sister Anne Therese Falkenstein

Looking back in gratitude at more than 25 years of ministry in Taiwan.

Sisters of Providence from Asia pose with general officers in 2018. Front from left: Sisters Teresa Kang, Anji Fan, Donna Marie Fu and Jeanne Hagelskamp. Back from left: Sisters Jenny Howard, Anne Therese Falkenstein and Delan Ma.

(Originally published in the Fall 2020 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Sister Jenny Howard

Sister Jenny Howard is a general officer of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. Prior to her leadership role, Sister Jenny served as Vocations director for the Congregation.

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