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My journey with Providence

The Avenue at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods

I remember the day vividly. It was mid-August, 2014. My husband and I had just dropped off our son on the campus of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, for freshman orientation week. Afterward, my husband continued his drive home. I, on the other hand, continued my drive to nearby Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. It was my first time to visit and stay at the Woods. When I turned right into Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, I understood what everyone meant about “the Avenue moment.”

Influence

While it was my first time at the Woods, it was not my first connection to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. I grew up on the south side of Indianapolis and attended St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School. Sisters of Providence were my teachers there. They were so committed to our faith life, education — and keeping order in the classroom! They were also holy women, prayerful women, intelligent and witty women, and a community. I didn’t realize it then, but they were laying the foundation for me to live my life with love, mercy and justice by furthering God’s Providence. Through the years that followed, I frequently thought back fondly of my years at St. Catherine of Siena School.

Invitation

Blog post author Cathy Dearing, center, with Sisters Cathy Campbell and Camille Neubauer

Fast forward forty years and I’m making that right turn onto “the Avenue” for the first time. It would be the first of many trips I would make there over the next two years. I would walk the grounds while making several private overnight retreats in one of the hermitages on St. Joseph’s Lake and saying “hello” to the sisters. The sisters were always so friendly and hospitable. One in particular stands out: Sister Camille Neubauer. Every time I would pick up and return my key for the hermitage at the Providence Spirituality and Conference Center, Sister Camille Neubauer (RIP) was there. Sister Camille was a greeter for the Providence Center and anyone who knew her knew how she could make you feel so welcome, so comfortable, so loved! After my second visit to the Woods, she asked me, “Do you know anything about Providence Associates?” I was not familiar with an associate relationship with the Sisters of Providence. She invited me to consider becoming one. She provided me with information and brochures. Mostly, she provided me with encouragement and this excitement and enthusiasm about her community and its mission.

The Family of Providence

Providence Associate Cathy Dearing and her companion Sister Theresa Clare Carr on Cathy’s first commitment day as a Providence Associate in November 2017

So, after two years of visiting the Woods, I submitted my Providence Associate relationship application in April 2016. Once accepted, I connected with my companion, Sister Theresa Clare Carr. Together we walked the journey of my formation year using the integration units. During that year I was being prayed for by the entire Sisters of Providence and Providence Associate community. And so on Nov. 18, 2017, I became a Providence Associate. 

Providence Associate Cathy Dearing prays during a Providence Associate retreat.

Over these past four years, I’ve stayed connected to the Woods and with the Sisters of Providence and Providence Associates: praying daily for the Providence mission, attending Providence Associate retreats, attending Sisters of Providence sponsored retreats, Taizé prayer services and continuing my own private regular retreats at a hermitage. I belong to the Southside Providence Circle in Indianapolis (a regional small sharing group of sisters and associates.) I also became involved with the H.O.M.E. program at the Woods by interviewing sisters for the creation of individual memory books known as “Sketches.” That ministry grew into my continued regular visits to the sisters in Providence Health Care and working with Sister Claire Hanson, a minister of care there. Even after COVID-19 when I could not enter the healthcare center, I sent regular cards to the residents. The 3rd graders at my parish also made Easter cards for every resident this year, and I mailed them to Sister Claire for distribution. I have also written a few poems and reflections for the Providence Community website, blog, and HOPE magazine. I look forward to continuing in all my ministries.

Reflecting

The Providence Community, including Providence Associates, offers the sign of peace during Mass.

So how about you, Providence Associates? Go back to when you were first invited to consider becoming a Providence Associate. Who invited you? Reflect on what you wrote in your application. Think about the two individuals you asked to write letters of affirmation for you. Think about your year of integration as you journeyed with your companion. Reread the things you wrote that are on your Providence Associate Commitment certificates that “honors Divine Providence and furthers God’s loving plans through works of love, mercy and justice.” What are the ways you are honoring that now? Is God calling you to serve in a larger capacity or a new ministry? Or like Sister Camille Neubauer did, to go up to someone and ask, “Do you know about Providence Associates?” and extend an invitation, plant a seed. We’d love to hear your “Journey with Providence” story!

Are you being called?

And what about you, readers? Are you being called to start your own “Journey with Providence?” If you apply to become a Providence Associate by May 31, you can start your journey this year. You can learn more and request an application at ProvidenceAssociates.org. We’d love to have you join the Family of Providence!

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Cathy Lamperski Dearing

Providence Associate Cathy Lamperski Dearing was taught by the Sisters of Providence in Indianapolis growing up. Cathy works as a physical therapist at A Caring Place Adult Day Services in Indianapolis, a program of Catholic Charities. She is also an adjunct faculty member at University of Indianapolis in the physical therapy doctoral degree program. Cathy is married and has three young adult children. She is a member of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis and enjoys reading, writing poetry, playing the flute, attending retreats, walking and going out to breakfast.

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14 Comments

  1. Debbie Dillow PA on April 8, 2021 at 7:29 am

    Beautiful reflection on your journey to becoming a Providence Associate. It is a beautiful relationship and I am so happy you said yes to the journey. The Providence Community is blessed to have you as part of it.

    • Cathy Dearing on April 8, 2021 at 9:21 pm

      Thank you so much, Debbie!

  2. Janet Tosick on April 8, 2021 at 10:41 am

    I enjoyed reading your story so much, Kathy.
    Thank you for sharing.
    I recently became a Providence Associate in November, 2020. The reflections you suggested helped me reflect on the journey I have lovingly committed.. I hope to meet you at St Mary’s.♥️
    Janet Tosick, PA

    • Cathy Dearing on April 8, 2021 at 9:23 pm

      Janet,

      Thank you for your comments. Welcome to the Providence Family! I hope to meet you too some time at the Woods.

  3. Jeannie Smith, PA on April 8, 2021 at 11:12 am

    Thanks for sharing your story, Cathy! I’ve been impressed with the reflections you’ve written and your responses to the Journals & Letters blog. I’m looking forward to a day when we can all be together again – beyond the virtual – in our Providence Family with hugs permitted!

    • Cathy Dearing on April 8, 2021 at 9:26 pm

      Thank you Jeannie! These blog posts are a great way to connect with one another! And yes, I too look forward to the day we can all be together! Hugs and all.

  4. Stephen Modde on April 8, 2021 at 11:21 am

    Interesting reading your story. Some previous connection with the SPs seems to keep many of us interested and inspired, and years later we circle back to them and SMW. Previously I worked at SMWC, and then distanced myself from there and the Church. Some 30 yrs later, I was invited by S. Carol to be an Associate. I was installed as an Associate, November 2019. Being an Associate fulfills my needs. It keeps me spiritually inspired and associated with a vibrant, relevant community. I recommend it all!
    I also hope to meet you at SMW. Thanks Kathy.

    • Cathy Dearing on April 8, 2021 at 9:32 pm

      Stephen,

      You are so right about how so many of us were influenced at some point in our life by a Sister(s) of Providence. Welcome to the Providence Family! Thank you for sharing a bit about your journey and how you are finding purpose, fulfillment, connection through the Providence Community.

  5. connie L schnapf on April 8, 2021 at 11:38 am

    I am so happy for you and the joy you have found being and working with the sisters in health care and the comunity. It sparked many memories of my own walk as a Providence Associate. Looking forward to being together again.

    • Cathy Dearing on April 8, 2021 at 9:36 pm

      Connie,

      Thank you Connie! Writing this article allowed me to also reflect back on my journey and to remember all the people who encouraged me, prayed for me, and walkEd with me. And it fills me with joy and gratitude.

  6. Siser Connie Kramer on April 8, 2021 at 11:56 am

    Wonderful gift to my day. May it bear fruit in more Providence Associates! And may your own Providence Associate journey continue to be pure gift to you Cathy. I am so glad we have connected along this sacred journey.

  7. Cathy Dearing on April 8, 2021 at 9:40 pm

    Sister Connie,

    Thank you so much! I appreciate your prayerful support of me throughout my Providence Journey. And yes, I hope sharing my story plants some seeds.

  8. Sabrina S Falls on April 10, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    Cathy, your story brought back the happy and sacred memory of my first time at the Woods which was actually my first encounter ever with the Sisters of Providence and eventually led to my becoming a PA as well! In my journal I wrote about Sr Camille–how welcoming she was and also about her miraculous intervention on my behalf to get the people in charge of the gift shop to open it up for me (it was closed for inventory) so I could purchase gifts for my family! I’m certain that your reflection will inspire someone (or many) to consider taking a Providence journey!
    With thanks and blessings!

  9. Cathy Dearing on April 11, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    Sabrina,

    Thanks so much for your sharing and lovely comments. Sister Camille was so wonderful and she was one-of-a-kind. I sure miss her.

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