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Sisters continue care for neighbors in need

For 25 years, Sister Dorothy Rasche, SP, has been the face of Providence for people who come to The Connecting Link in West Terre Haute, Indiana. Here she connects local people in need with available resources. And for 16 years, Sister Joseph Fillenwarth, SP, has been the face of Providence Food Pantry, also in West Terre Haute, serving low income people in need.

And after all these years ministering to the community, both Sisters Dorothy and Joseph feel like it is time to move on. But these sisters’ retirement does not mean the Sisters of Providence will no longer be serving their neighbors in need.

“I will miss all of the people,” Sister Joseph said. “It will be hard to let go.”

Food Pantry transition

Sister Joseph Fillenwarth, right, is preparing to hand over the leadership of the Providence Food Pantry in West Terre Haute, Indiana, to Sister Maureen Fallon, left, by the end of the year.

Sister Joseph will be leaving the food pantry at the end of this year. Sister Maureen Fallon, SP, will take over as director.

For the past nine years, Sister Maureen has ministered as the assistant principal at Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee, Illinois. She has ministered in Catholic education for 43 years.

Sister Maureen said the routine of transitioning to the food pantry is very different from education.

“This job is a lot more physical. But I get to interact with different people all of the time,” Sister Maureen said.

Sister Brendan Harvey, SP, (RIP) founded the food pantry in 1994. Originally, it was located in the basement of St. Leonard’s Parish in West Terre Haute before moving to its current location at 701 W. National Ave.

Sister Joseph had also ministered in education for 22 years and parish work for 27 years before moving to the pantry in 2006 at the request of Sister Brendan.

“I just fell into it, but it’s been the most rewarding ministry I’ve ever had,” Sister Joseph said. “We’re all working for God. It’s His ministry, not mine.”

Sister Lawrence Ann Liston, SP, offers a patron baked goods at Providence Food Pantry in West Terre Haute.

Sister Maureen was becoming tired from the 15-hour workdays in education. In turn, Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp, SP, suggested she consider transitioning to the food pantry. She moved back to the Woods on June 14 and has been ministering with Sister Joseph since.

“It’s been a smooth transition,” Sister Maureen said. “Sister Joseph is a gem to work with, helping me understand the mission and the ministry. And the volunteers are spectacular.”

The ministry transition at the food pantry will officially take place on Dec. 31 this year. However, Sister Joseph said she will continue to help, in addition to running the annual rummage sales and the yearly Christmas Sale.

Connecting Link transitions

Sister Dorothy, on the other hand, will continue as director of The Connecting Link until she feels it is time to move on and become a volunteer for the ministry. Sister Lisa Stallings, SP, has agreed to step into the role of director at the appropriate
time.

“It will be a gradual changeover,” Sister Dorothy said. “But I’ve been looking for someone to replace me for a while. Sister Lisa volunteered and I happily accepted the invitation. Sister Lisa always expressed an interest in The Connecting Link when I gave my reports to the council.”

Sister Dorothy Rasche, right, with Sister Lisa Stallings. Sister Dorothy plans to hand over leadership of the The Connecting Link ministry to Sister Lisa in the near future.

For the past 10 years, Sister Lisa has ministered as part of the Leadership Team. When her second term concluded, she inquired about The Connecting Link.

“I spoke to Sister Dorothy about it,” she said. “I love that The Connecting Link is grassroots. There’s a need and maybe we can meet it. This ministry grew organically in response to the West Terre Haute community.”

Sister Lisa officially started ministering with The Connecting Link, located at 830 W. National Ave., West Terre Haute, on March 21 of this year.

Sister Dorothy has also ministered for 16 years with the male inmates at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute. Sister Janice Smith, SP, recently transitioned into that position. Sister Dorothy will continue to minister with female inmates at the Rockville Correctional Facility in Rockville, Indiana, once a week.

So far, Sister Lisa said the transition with The Connecting Link has been splendid.

“I’m very comfortable with all of this,” Sister Lisa said. “Sister Dorothy plays the major role in this ministry, but I believe I can help. Every day, I learn something more about the role. We are working well together. We complement each other very well.”

Living the Gospel

Sister Joseph says that living out the Gospel in today’s world is all about love, mercy and justice.

“That is this ministry,” Sister Joseph said. “They are not just words for us. We put it all into action.”

Both Sister Lisa and Sister Dorothy echoed those sentiments regarding The Connecting Link.

“One of The Connecting Link board members recently commented that we are doing the corporal works of mercy — to feed the hungry, to clothe those in need, to care for the sick — by directing persons to agencies that provide the needed service.”

Originally published in the fall 2022 issue of HOPE magazine.

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Jason Moon

Jason Moon serves as media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence. Previously, he spent more than 16 years in the newspaper industry.

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