Gifts that keep on giving
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” —2 Corinthians 9:8
Dr. Mary Ellen Olbrisch, a psychologist and 1970 graduate of the Sisters of Providence Mother Theodore Guerin High School in River Grove, Illinois, recently surprised the Congregation. She gave an unexpected and substantial monetary contribution in honor of her former teacher, Sister Cathy Campbell, SP, and her former Guerin classmate (and now general superior of the Sisters of Providence) Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, SP.
“I consider my years at Guerin to have been some of my best educational experiences. Guerin was a vibrant place full of creative energy, and it seemed everyone was gifted in some way. We had excellent teachers who cared about us and nurtured us toward productive adult lives,” Mary Ellen said.
She and Sister Dawn both worked on the school newspaper at Guerin, and Sister Cathy was their advisor.
Sister Cathy was in her first ministry as a Sister of Providence. She was teaching journalism and English. As a first-time teacher, Sister Cathy invested much of her time in finding out what the interests of her students were and incorporating them into lessons. She enjoyed teaching in ways where she and students could create collaboratively.
Mary Ellen says she thinks of Sister Cathy as an example of all the sisters who did so much to nurture and guide the students. She said she very much appreciated the energy and enthusiasm that Sister Cathy brought to her teaching and mentoring.
Toward the future
Did Sister Cathy have any idea that the efforts she put into her classroom years ago would still be making an impact today? In response Sister Cathy referenced a quote from Mother Theodore: “You may not live to see it, but you will have sown the seed, and your Sisters will come to reap what will have been sown.”
Sister Dawn also remembers fondly her time at Guerin. The sisters were fun and the friendships developed at Guerin made an impression. They provided her with a sense of community, she said. The sisters lived out God’s loving Providence and helped to strengthen her own faith and give her a positive outlook on life by reminding her that God will always provide. She recognized this as a gift in and of itself, the gift of sharing God’s love with others.
Belief in the mission
Mary Ellen admires Sister Dawn’s commitment to her vocation. And she appreciates Sister Cathy’s investment in her own education. Both influenced her decision to support the Congregation financially. Mary Ellen made a Qualified Charitable Distribution from her IRA to the Sisters of Providence. She said, in part because it was money that would otherwise be taxed and in part because she wanted to leave a gift that would benefit the sisters during her lifetime. Most importantly, she gave because she believes in the work of the sisters, past and present. Her gift allowed her the opportunity to be a part of that work and to honor two women whom she admires greatly.
Your support matters
Donors are the lifeblood of the Congregation, Sister Cathy says. Mary Ellen is one of many donors who help make the continuation of the mission and ministries of the Sisters of Providence possible.
It’s the support of our benefactors that allow the Providence Community to make love, mercy and justice more visible in the world. Whether you give through money, time, talent or energy, each contribution to the Sisters of Providence has a lasting effect.
Originally published in the summer 2023 issue of HOPE magazine.
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