Special Retreat ‘treats’
We would not typically update you on the annual retreat for the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods through the Providence Partners e-newsletter. However, this year’s retreat concluded a year-long celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Mission in Asia and, in light of recent hate-motivated actions across our country, it is important to be reminded of the 100-year legacy we share with our Missionary Sisters of Providence and supporters in Asia.
In commemoration of the celebration, Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, SP, general superior of the Sisters of Providence, and Bishop Martin Su of Taiwan, along with several sisters who had ministered in China or Taiwan, wrote beautiful letters and essays for the occasion. Sister Dawn’s and Bishop Su’s letters were translated into Chinese for distribution in Taiwan.
As Bishop Martin Su wrote in his greeting last November, our missionary sisters, under the direction of Mother Marie Gratia Luking, SP, comprised the first American congregation of women religious to serve on mainland China! Bishop Su described how they “relentlessly continued their works of mercy and carried out different ministries and social work services such as in the fields of education, medical care, care for the elderly, disabled children and the like.” Sound familiar? The initial mission trip, and all those who journeyed to Asia and served since that time, taught the Sisters of Providence charism and brought love, mercy and justice from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to share with our brothers and sisters in the East.
When outlining this year’s home retreat theme, the planning committee – Sisters of Providence Paula Damiano, Janice Smith and Dr. Norene Wu, and Providence Associate Jane Fischer – designed programming around the book “Against All Odds,” the historical account of the missionaries’ ministries in Asia, written by Sister Ann Colette Wolf, SP. They incorporated Sister Dawn’s and Bishop Su’s letters, the sisters’ essays and an original prayer by Sister Anne Therese Falkenstein, SP. As a special gift, sisters participating in the retreat received a bound copy of the essays. Programming included performing a reenactment of the silent procession before their departure and the official sending off of Sister Marie Gratia Luking and the missionary sisters, and then renewing Mother Theodore’s symbolic tradition by planting a new linden tree. We invite you to walk with the sisters for the send-off reenactment. Click here for the video.
Sister Paula, who led the home retreat team, presented a moving talk about the missionaries’ farewell. She incorporated into her talk the lyrics from “Let Go of the Shore,” a well-known song by Christian singer-songwriter Karen Drucker. When Sue Faria, assistant to Karen Drucker, read the transcript of Sister Paula’s talk, her kind words were, “That is such a creative way to use the words to Karen’s song. Yes, please do share it with your readership! If you would like to include the song for them as a gift from Karen, the link is below.”