Get to know Providence Associate Brad Crites
Tell us about yourself: where you are from, family, career, etc.
My wife, Tiffany, and I have two children, Brooklyn (11) and Brett (9). We live on our family farm that was started in 1833 in Hendricksville, Indiana. (Since most people have no idea where that is, we usually say just west of Bloomington.)
I have a degree in science education (chemistry and physics) with a minor in Spanish; my master’s degree is in educational leadership and administration. Both degrees are from Indiana State University. All of my career has been in some form of education, in a K-12 school, higher education or training and instructional writing for private companies. I’ve also done a number of other things, including my own businesses, retail and nonprofit management.
What are you passionate about and why?
I love teaching and learning — I’m constantly reading all kinds of things. I also like volunteering at church and with community organizations. Anything I can do to help people make something better, that’s where I like to be.
List three things that someone who wants to get to know you should understand about you.
- I can speak to a group of any size, but I’m usually not the first to start a conversation one-on-one. In spite of that, I really enjoy getting to know people.
- I’m open to all kinds of ideas, but I will look for the one that benefits people the most or is the most rational.
- I have very eclectic preferences on everything from food, to music, to hobbies.
What are your favorite ways to spend your time?
I enjoy spending time with my family, getting to travel when we can. Also, I read quite a bit, and enjoy playing piano (preferably without an audience!). I like outdoor adventures but am just as happy playing a board game or watching a movie. Give me a puzzle to solve and I’m happy!
What drew you to the Providence Associate relationship?
It sounds like the “good school boy” response, but Providence really drew me to this relationship. I first visited the Woods as a teenager for a Lenten day retreat. Then I returned to the Woods a few years later, early in my career looking for a job. I worked for Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College for a couple of years in marketing and as an adjunct instructor. All along, I’ve been searching for what (more) God wants me to do. When my daughter’s third grade class visited the Woods on a field trip, I discovered the Providence Associate program. And the more I learned and talked to the sisters I was meeting, the more I knew I was in my spiritual home.
Tell about your experience as a Providence Associate.
I started my candidate year in 2019. Being an “academic type,” most of that time was spent reading and learning. But there was also a fair amount of talking with my companion, my family and friends. And I reflected quite a lot about what I was hoping for from this relationship. Since COVID changed our ‘normal’ halfway through that candidate year, I’ve felt a little more removed from the community. But I’m also very grateful to have the opportunities to connect over the internet for events and activities that I might not otherwise have been able to travel to participate in. And I’m trying to keep up with community communications and thinking further about what my contribution may be.
Another incredible aspect of this process is that I have been able to share this entire experience and relationship with my family to the extent they want to be involved. We visit the Woods together and have enjoyed meals with the sisters. “Providence” has become part of our regular language and way of life at home.
In what ways is the relationship life-giving?
The Providence Community, for me, is three things: a breath of fresh air, a bringing of my faith journey full-circle and a calling toward future mission. It is wonderful to find an open-minded group that shares the command of Jesus to love God and neighbor in a vibrant and joyful way. Being open to all, I can honor my Catholic faith and my non-Catholic upbringing. The Community inspires and nudges me to put contemplation into action for the good of all Creation.
Who was your companion in becoming a Providence Associate? Tell us about that process.
Sister Ann Casper, SP. She is such a wonderful person! I could not have chosen a better guide for this experience. We share many things in common, having both been school teachers and administrators; she was Mission Advancement Director for the Congregation, and I have served as Executive Director of our local community foundation.
Sister Ann encouraged and reassured me throughout the process from day one and helped me feel like part of the Community. (“We’re huggers here,” she told me when we met.)
We met monthly, in person at first, then by phone and then outside with masks and acceptable distance. We exchanged emails between meetings. I still try to connect with her periodically, and we’re excited to be able to visit (hopefully) soon. As it turns out, one of Sister Ann’s former students is now the principal at our children’s school. We think of Sister Ann as part of the family!
What does being a Providence Associate mean to you?
Being a Providence Associate means I’m not alone in the way I express my faith and approach the big questions of the world. The parish church, the local community, my professional career and workplace seem to have changes that sometimes leave me wondering where I could fit or if I (and my family) were the island in a foreign sea. I (we) now have a community to share ideas, joys and sorrows with, and there are constant opportunities for learning and service. Everyone can find a way to be involved that best fits their circumstances and personalities.
As I pray the Prayer of Reunion each morning, I am setting the tone for my day. It brings fresh focus to all that I’m doing through the lens of Providence. And I have the enjoyment and reassurance of knowing there’s a strength and energy behind me in Saint Mother Theodore and the whole community that leans on her example and intercession. The Providence Community is about being “practical saints.” As Mother Theodore says, “What have we to do in order to be saints? Nothing extraordinary; nothing more than what we do every day. Only do it for [God’s] love. … ”
What are your hopes for the Providence community into the future?
Change is an undeniable fact of life, but this Community is well-equipped for whatever may lie ahead. I hope that we will continue to see women accepting the call to become Sisters of Providence. And I certainly hope that the Providence Associates are able to preserve, support, stabilize and extend the legacy and reach of the Sisters of Providence mission beyond what the Congregation would otherwise have capacity to do. I personally hope to share the charism of the Community with others in my day-to-day life. And in some small way, I’d like to give something back to the sisters who have done so much for so many.
Anything else you would like to add?
Being a Providence Associate is such a gift! It is what you make of it, very much a relationship. Still, it’s not overly demanding with obligations. And there’s room for anyone to find their seat at the table in whatever way works for them. There’s a ministry for each of us, whether that is prayer or advocacy or sharing someone else’s walk.
Thanks Brad for your reflections on your Providence Associate journey. I am delighted that you say our beloved Reunion Prayer each morning. May you always feel the support of your Providence Community.
Enjoyed reading your “story” and so appreciated your participation in the zoom workshops this past year.
Brad, we are so blessed by your presence and your life.