My journey with Providence
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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!