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Reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Just scouring the many pages of writings on the Sisters of Providence website, one can find many reflections and more regarding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Today is a federal holiday marking his birthday, which was Jan. 15, 1929. The holiday is observed on the third Monday of January each year.

In 1983, then President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law, but it was not observed until 1986. In fact, it was not officially observed by all 50 states until 2000.

Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1966

Today, we honor his legacy and remember he helped move forward the American Civil Rights Movement through nonviolence and civil disobedience.

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, have a rich history of honoring his legacy and this blog is intended to remind all readers of that.

Civil Rights Volunteers

In 1965, Sister Alma Louise Mescher, SP, and Sister Mary Jean Mark, SP, both volunteered to travel to Georgia from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods after King had sent a letter to colleges nationwide asking for assistance with his Summer Community Organization and Political Education (S.C.O.P.E.) program.

Both Sister Alma Louise and Sister Mary Jean were joined by four Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College students as well as two students from Indiana State University. The program helped educate African Americans in addition to getting them registered to vote.

Sister Mary Jean Mark and Sister Alma Louise Mescher along with others in Georgia in the summer of 1965

The Principles of Nonviolence

In 2009, Sister Denise Wilkinson, SP, reflected on King and the principles of nonviolence, saying:

“Using the following principles as a foundation, please join with the Sisters of Providence in prayerful reflection, discussion and prayer and perhaps even in acts of nonviolent resistance:

  • Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people,
  • Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding,
  • Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people,
  • Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform,
  • Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate, and
  • Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.

Dr. King gives us much to ponder and to live. May we be worthy of his legacy.”

In Need of Conversion

In 2013, Sister Patty Wallace, SP, reflected on King as well, stating, “As we pray the Litany of Nonviolence, let us pray for conversion of heart: Provident God, aware of my own brokenness, we ask for the gift of courage to identify how and where we are in need of conversion in order to live in solidarity with earth and all creation.”


The Congregation has also encouraged all to explore our Volunteer Services opportunities to honor Dr. King. In a piece written on Jan. 20, 2014, we wrote: “Dr. King believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence to make this country a better place to live.”

Continuing Through Us

And in 2018, Sister Donna Butler, SP, wrote “The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy: A Call to Action,” saying “May his life’s legacy and dream of racial harmony and justice, of creating the ‘Beloved Community’ continue through us. May we not be silent about things that matter.”

‘What are you doing for others?’

On January 15, 2019, former President Barack Obama sent out a message of reflection on what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 90th birthday:

“Today marks what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 90th birthday. And although he’s not with us today, Dr. King’s steadfast commitment to the causes of equality and justice continue to transform the world. I still draw inspiration from his deep-rooted belief in service. As he said: Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” (Source: Obama.org).

Take some time today to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy. Remind yourself of the importance of what he stood for. Be inspired by his words and actions.

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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1 Comment

  1. Connie SP on January 16, 2023 at 11:42 am

    Thanks for sharing these reflections with us. They were very inspiring indeed.

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