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Sister Patty Wallace: Fulfilling God’s wish

For Sister Patty Wallace, SP, becoming a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, seemed, well, Providential.

Sister Patty, who entered the Congregation in 2003 at age 35, had known of the Sisters of Providence for practically her entire life.

“The Sisters of Providence were a part of my story from before I was born,” Sister Patty said. “They were my father’s teachers in grade school. My grandparents knew and helped the Sisters of Providence in New Castle with transportation and other needs. My teachers and principals at Saint Simon in Indianapolis were Sisters of Providence.

Sister Patty Wallace

“We lived in the same neighborhood in Indianapolis so the Sisters of Providence were our friends as well. And Sister Marilyn Baker, SP, brought me to the Woods for the first time and showed me courage when she moved to Taiwan for a new ministry.”

Sister Patty graduated from Cathedral High School in 1986 and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Butler University in 1991. She also has a master’s degree in library science from Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis.

Sister Patty had attended 10 discernment weekends with the Sisters of Providence before entering the Congregation and said she never considered another community. After ministering with the Sisters of Providence through the Providence Volunteer Ministry program, she officially entered the Congregation on Sept. 18, 2003, from St. Mary of the Pines Parish in Shreveport, La., where she was living at the time.

“I was attracted to religious life because I felt that my spirituality, relationship with Jesus, God’s presence in my life, and my experiences in helping others were central to my life and were valued by the Sisters of Providence,” Sister Patty said. “I was excited to be with the sisters who shared these values, supported each other and had ministries that impacted those who struggled with daily hardships and injustice.

“I felt that I would make more of a difference in ministering with other sisters, although I had little concept of how that would work and the transformation I would go through.”

Sister Patty professed first vows on July 1, 2007, and final vows on June 30, 2013. Her first ministry with the Congregation was as the school librarian at St. Andrew-St. Rita Catholic Academy in Indianapolis. She began her current ministry as the children’s librarian at the Indianapolis Public Library in 2007.

Through her 19 years of religious life, Sister Patty admits she has faced some challenges and has even questioned whether she should continue.

“There were challenges of my formation, my expectations and doubts, and others not understanding my choice of religious life,” Sister Patty observed. “But I want to stay in religious life to create change, to join with sisters to reach out to those who are hurting and know that I have gifts that are needed in Community as well.”

Despite these challenges, Sister Patty said her hope for religious life has only grown during these 19 years.

“My multicultural intercommunity experiences and the Giving Voice Conference, for religious 20 to 50 years of age, have shown me how much we will connect and minister with other religious congregations in the future,” Sister Patty exclaimed. “It is difficult at this time because we are losing so many older sisters who were active when I entered the Community. But I believe that I carry their wisdom and guidance with me for the Congregation.

Some sisters and associates at the protest. From left in purple, Providence Associate Eileen Horan, Sister Janice Smith, Sister Patty Wallace.

“As I move into ‘middle age,’ I want to support the sisters who are following me in religious life. I find great hope in our Providence Associates who will be the presence of Providence. I believe we are living into religious life that is connecting and ministering with others to create peace and compassion in these times.”

Of her current ministry, Sister Patty said it is “very life-giving” and she is delighted of all the ways she can use the gifts God has granted her.

“I feel like I can make a difference in the lives of families and their children, those who are not skilled in technology and online applications in a world where everything requires the Internet,” Sister Patty said. “I also connect with the elderly who need someone to talk to, the mentally challenged who come into the library where they are welcome and my co-workers who have struggles in their lives and could use some support.”

The Sisters of Providence are a community of Catholic women religious who collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy.

Learn more about becoming a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods at here.  Learn more about the Sisters of Providence here or contact Congregation Vocations Director Sister Joni Luna at 812-535-2954 or jluna@spsmw.org.

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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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