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Woods Core Class brings students, sisters together

Sister Donna Butler, SP

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College’s Woods Core 100 class uses the concept of communities, and how they have influenced societies, education and the world, to introduce the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) community
and its particular values and ideas. The Sisters of Providence are honored to be a part of these classes.

In my endeavors with SMWC students in these classes, I have accompanied the students to the guided tours of Saint Mother Theodore’s Shrine and other sites on our grounds. Because of Covid-19, this year they viewed Sisters of Providence artifacts in their classroom rather than in the Archives Department. Facilitating their viewing of these artifacts, I told them stories from our early history. I shared with them information about our spirituality, our current ministries, justice efforts and values. I answered their questions about religious life and shared my personal experience of this life.

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College students in a previous year’s Woods Core 100 class tour White Violet Center for Eco-Justice and get to know the alpacas.

Hope moving forward

I encountered many students motivated to learn and to make a difference in the world. They give me a sense of hope for the world. Below is some of the feedback they gave me after the class:

“I think incorporating the sisters is a beautiful tradition and I hope we can mirror your faith throughout our time here at the Woods. … It is such a beautiful thing to learn about your faith and the traditions that this school has had in place for centuries.”


“I wanted to let you know that I loved the tour you gave us of the Woods. You explained so much to me that I did not know before. Thank you so much for helping me feel more connected to our past.”


“It makes me feel good that the school I chose to go to is really doing good. There is a way to be involved and really make a difference. Thank you so much for attending our classes and sharing your experiences with us!”


“The Sisters of Providence section of my WC 100 class was one of my favorite parts. When I entered this school, I had only known about Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, and I had a great desire to learn more about the Sisters of Providence, with whom I would share my campus over the next four years. During this section of the class, I greatly enjoyed hearing how the sisters live out their faith daily through sustainable actions and acts of mercy, love and justice. Touring the White Violet Center and gardens was one of my favorite parts. I loved to hear how the founding sisters
had such a care for creation and gardening in the beginning and how that has progressed to the lovely organic gardens and animal keeping we see today on campus.”

Originally published in the winter 2022 issue of HOPE magazine.

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Sister Donna Butler

Sister Donna Butler has been a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for more than 60 years. Sister Donna has served in elementary education, parish ministry, diocesan social justice, as well as the Congregation’s liturgy office, archives department and social justice outreach. She also administered as the director of the Providence Volunteer Ministry. Sister Donna currently volunteers in outreach with Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College students.

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