Sisters of Providence to reopen grounds to public on May 24
All are welcome back again!
The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, will officially reopen all public buildings, sacred sites and grounds beginning on Monday, May 24. In addition, Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception will again be open to the public beginning at 11 a.m., on Sunday, May 23.
At this time, all Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods have been fully vaccinated, and they are ready to welcome everyone back to the Woods, which was recently voted the Tribune-Star’s Readers’ Choice 2021 Best Place to Take Visitors.
Many of the buildings on campus were shuttered in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sisters, like many people, have had limited contact with friends and loved ones for more than a year.
General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, SP, said the Congregation made the decision to essentially close the campus out of an abundance of caution.
“Given the fact that many of the Sisters of Providence who live at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods were among the most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, it was not difficult to make the hard decision to follow the directives of both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indiana Health Department to lock down our campus,” Sister Dawn said.
“The trade-off, of course, is that the very places that might offer people comfort and solace during these hard times – the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore – were not available.”
Despite the shutdown, Sister Dawn added that people still visited the campus, took advantage of the outdoor shrine and interacted with the sisters in different ways. For example, many visited Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and communicated with sisters from their windows. And technology helped as many sisters learned to join Zoom meetings with friends, family and Providence Associates. In fact, more than 30 Sisters of Providence programs were offered by Providence Spirituality & Conference Center and White Violet Center for Eco-Justice via livestream programming.
“We were gratified that many people did walk our campus and take advantage of its peace and serenity when outdoor activities were encouraged in place of those indoor ones that might jeopardize people’s health,” she said.
Sacred sites which will be reopened to the public include the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Providence and the Church of the Immaculate Conception, among others.
In addition, retail stores are now open daily. Linden Leaf Gifts store hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., on Saturdays and Sundays, while stores hours for the Farm Store at White Violet Center are noon-5 p.m., Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., on Sundays. All times are Eastern Standard Time.
And beginning on Tuesday, June 8, the Congregation’s monthly Taizé Prayer service will be open to the public. Livestream services will continue for those who are unable to attend in person. The service takes place from 7-8 p.m., on the second Tuesday of each month.
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Sister Dawn said the Congregation is pleased to now be able to offer the Woods to the public.
“It is with great joy that we are open to visitors again,” Sister Dawn said. “We have missed the many friends who attend our regular Sunday liturgies and monthly Taizé Prayer services not to mention the various programs and experiences we offer.
“Family members of sisters have already been making plans to come and visit. This does feel like a time of important reunions! COVID has brought home once again how important relationships are to our well-being and happiness.”
The Congregation is asking that all visitors remain attentive of safety protocols which remain in place, including wearing a mask, physical distancing and washing hands. Properly-fitted masks will be required to enter buildings on the grounds.
About the Sisters of Providence
The Sisters of Providence, a congregation of 214 women religious, with 300 Providence Associates, collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy. The Sisters of Providence have their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, located just northwest of downtown Terre Haute, Ind., which is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 13 states, the District of Columbia and Asia, through works of love, mercy and justice. More information about the Sisters of Providence and their ministries can be found at SistersofProvidence.org.