Get to know Providence Associate Candace Minster
Tell us about yourself: Where you are from, family, career, etc.
I’m from a small town in northern Indiana and went to college at Indiana University in Bloomington where I double-majored in English and Ecology and Spirituality (which was part of the Individualized Major Program). One of my professors and advisors for the individualized major suggested that I check out the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC) because “those sisters are doing some pretty incredible things and I think you’d feel at home there.” He was right! I came to White Violet Center in 2004 to volunteer in the garden. I was soon hired and have been here in various capacities ever since. My husband teaches at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and we have two young kids who keep us on our toes and endlessly entertained.
What are you passionate about and why?
I’m passionate about all sorts of things! If I had to sum up what motivates me into a neat little package, I would say it’s justice work, specifically environmental justice and racial justice. The natural world has been a source of inspiration, awe and renewal for me my whole life. (In third grade, I helped found our elementary school’s first environmental club and begin a recycling program. Never tell a child they’re too young to do anything!)
My mother is a social psychologist who specializes in studying implicit biases. Her work and the lessons she’s shared with me as I’ve grown have fueled my efforts to learn more about the racism inherent in our society. Much of my recent work has been personal and internal. I’m focusing on rooting out my implicit racial biases and speaking up to injustices when I see them. I’m doing my best to teach my children to do the same.
List three things that someone who wants to get to know you should understand about you.
Music, art and literature are as important to me as shelter and clothing — I need them all to thrive. I value experiences, like great meals and travel, over material things any day. Lastly, humor is my love language. If we can share a sense of humor, we will get along great.
What are your favorite ways to spend your time?
I’m an avid fiber arts person and spend most of my spare time knitting, spinning yarn and weaving. I love to cook and I especially love to bake sourdough bread. Traveling, hiking and exploring with my family is something I enjoy. I also love to read whenever I can snatch a few minutes here and there.
What drew you to the Providence Associate relationship?
I was blown away by the Sisters of Providence when I came as a volunteer fresh out of college. I thought I understood what it meant to be Catholic, but I really had no idea. Growing up, our parish was small, conservative and did limited justice work. I had no idea so many women had dedicated their lives to the service of others. The sisters that I met, their stories, their passion and their commitment to justice inspired me. I felt like the Providence Associate relationship has offered a way for lay people to align themselves with the incredible work the sisters have done. I truly love this place and its people and I’m honored to be a part of its legacy.
Tell about your experience as a Providence Associate.
I started spiritual direction with a sister around the time that I had my first child, before the Providence Associate program was really going. Those discussions helped me work through some of the things that troubled me growing up in the Church. I was able to reframe my understanding of God and what it means to be a person who identifies as Christian. After years of encouragement from sisters and other associates, I determined I was finally ready to join. I appreciated how the Providence Associate process allowed me to pick up where I left off with my spiritual direction from years earlier and come to it with a different perspective. Conversations and connections that I’ve had with various sisters over the years have been a treasure. I feel like being an associate has helped deepen those experiences.
In what ways is the relationship life giving?
The Providence Associate relationship helps to solidify the emotional and spiritual connection that I’ve felt to this community for many years. I’m still a very busy person, and I may not be able to attend all the retreat and meeting opportunities, but it doesn’t mean I’m any less connected to this place.
Who was your companion in becoming a Providence Associate? Tell us about that process.
My companion was Sister Ann Sullivan. Working with her was particularly meaningful as she was the director of White Violet Center when I began working there in 2004. When introducing me to others, she would say, “Hiring her was one of the smartest decisions I’ve made!” She was able to see my passion and commitment, even though I was so young when I began. My work at WVC has been so informative to who I am today. I wouldn’t be quite the person that I am if Sister Ann hadn’t taken that step to hire me! I valued so much being able to connect with her on a deeper, spiritual level.
What are your hopes for the Providence Community into the future?
This community has done so much monumental good in the world. I love the Sisters of Providence commitment to laying groundwork today to ensure their legacy into the future. I’m so honored to be a part of that process and I hope that I can do justice to carrying on their work.