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Newsnotes from HOPE summer 2023

Volunteers stitch their way into our hearts

Volunteer Charla Evinger hemming Sister Editha Ben’s pants.

Charla Evinger and Cheryl Murphy are co-owners of Mamas Mending in Marshall, Illinois, and also volunteers extraordinaire for the Sisters of Providence. When the Congregation’s faithful mender and alteration expert Sister Margaret Heese could no longer assist, a big need arose among the Sisters of Providence. Charla and Cheryl have stepped in to donate one Saturday a month to help the sisters with any sewing projects that arise. What an unexpected blessing, indeed!

Volunteer seamstress Cheryl Murphy, left, volunteers
making alterations for the sisters while chatting with Sister Donna Butler.

“Volunteering at the Sisters of Providence doesn’t feel like volunteering at all. We sat, sewed, chatted like old friends, had a wonderful morning break with some bread baked by Sister Rosemary [Schmalz] and sewed some more. We had a wonderful lunch, a tour of the church and shrine and sewed some more. It was so pleasant and welcoming and we really felt so at home. It was not work — it was pure joy,” Charla said.

Interested in putting your time and talents to use with the Sisters of Providence? Learn more about volunteer opportunities with us at Volunteer.SistersofProvidence.org

Sister Carolyn Kessler (left) and her guest Sister Joseph

A celebration of the 90s!

We celebrated Sisters of Providence aged 90 and over during our annual 90’s celebration on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Celebrants were treated to a wonderful party in the Providence Hall Dining Room, including games, sing-a-longs and more! All of those honored were accompanied by a guest. Thirty of the 37 Sisters of Providence aged 90 or older attended the event.

Young Jack Ryska with a Sister of Providence on
a visit to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods during his high
school years.

Fond memories from an alum

We recently received a lovely note from a former student. Father Leo Ryska, OSB, now 90 years old, attended St. Leo School on the south side of Chicago from 1939-47. “I have only happy and caring memories from my St. Leo days and especially the Sisters of Providence.” He writes, “Sister Celine Therese Heck [RIP] was an important woman in my young life. She encouraged me to consider priesthood from the 4th grade. Times were very different.”

We love hearing from our former students! And we thank Jack for the lovely photos he sent, including the one here.

Sister Marilyn Baker offers spiritual help, only 5 cents, to Archbishop Thompson of Indianapolis.

Sisters of Providence on the road

Sisters of Providence have been sharing the mission of love, mercy and justice and the story of Saint Mother Theodore far and wide. Vocation Director Sister Joni Luna, SP, and a group of sisters set up at the SEEK conference for Catholic college students in January. They traveled to the LA Religious Education Congress in February. In March a group of sisters helped to sponsor and set up at Human Rights Day in Terre Haute, Indiana. Watch for us next, including Sister Marilyn Baker in her Lucy-from-Peanuts-style “Spiritual Help 5 cents” booth, at the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) in Indianapolis in November.

Sister Jody O’Neil receives art award

Recently, Sister Jody O’Neil, SP, received one of the two awards presented on Jan. 20 at the opening of the “Spaces & Places, Oh My …” art exhibit at Arts Illiana in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Sister Jody received the Juror’s Choice award during the opening of the exhibit. Her painting was titled “Leaf Spaces.”

The exhibit was on display at the gallery until April 7.

Focused on friendship

Providence Associates brought together sisters, associates and friends for a Providence Community spring retreat at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods March 10-12. Retreatants focused on a Biblical look at friendship with God while growing in friendship with one another.

Providence Associate Co-Director Debbie Dillow visits with Providence Associates, seated from left, Linda Dudkowski, Beverly Adams and Patrice LeMaire.

Alpaca Manager authors book

Tara Elmore with her book.

White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC) Alpaca Manager Tara Elmore recently published her first children’s book.

The book, “Herbert the Edgy Hedgie,” is available for sale at the WVC Farm Store and will soon be available at Linden Leaf Gifts, both at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

The book centers around Edgy Herbert, a hedgehog who is not having a good day as all his troubles continue to build up. But his friend and teacher help him turn his troubles into positive outcomes.

Tara said she was inspired to write the book after a text chain she had with a good friend during the early stages of COVID-19 in 2020.“She sent me an emoji of a hedgehog and I said, ‘That’s one edgy hedgie,’” Tara said. “My friend said she would read that book.”

Tara said she and her friend, Marie Wimsett, created the framework and edited it. Marie’s son-in-law, Jesse Roberts, provided the illustrations.

Providence Associate Yvonne Conniff greets a sister with a hug.

Are you looking for an unexpected blessing?

Might God be nudging you toward a mission of love, mercy and justice as a Providence Associate? We invite you to the warm embrace of the Providence Community! Now is the perfect time to become a Providence Associate.

Learn more at ProvidenceAssociates.org. Apply by June 30 to begin the process this year.

Originally published in the summer 2023 issue of HOPE magazine.

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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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