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Sisters of Providence welcome new postulant

“I knew when I came here for a month’s stay in 2022 and I didn’t want to leave Providence Hall.”

Stephanie Rivas finally felt like she was home at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, when she came to visit with the Sisters of Providence.

After a four-year investigating religious life, Stephanie found herself in front of the entrance to historic Providence Hall on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2023. She knocked on the door and was greeted by the Sisters of Providence General Superior, Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, SP. She stepped through the doors and was welcomed as the Congregation’s newest postulant, or member.

In the official entrance ceremony Stephanie Rivas knocks on the door of Providence Convent asking to be admitted.

Stephanie has visited with the Sisters of Providence since 2020. At that time, she stayed at a hermitage because Providence Hall, the Motherhouse, was closed due to COVID-19. However, during her stay in 2020, she met with Sister Barbara Bluntzer, SP, who is also from Stephanie’s hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas.

For Stephanie, her discernment process actually began in 2019 as she investigated many other congregations. But after meeting with Sisters of Providence Vocations Director, Sister Joni Luna, SP, she felt God nudging her closer and closer to the Sisters of Providence.

“I always came back here,” Stephanie Said. “Sister Joni always reached out to me. It started in 2020 through social media.”

Stephanie has a bachelor’s degree in management from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. She also earned a master’s degree in early childhood development at Texas A&M, also in San Antonio.

After receiving her master’s degree, Stephanie started teaching at a reservation in South Dakota, but COVID-19 reared its ugly head and she began to feel something might need to change.

“I wasn’t expecting to not be with students,” she said. “So, I used that time to teach and discern.”

Following her teaching stint in South Dakota, Stephanie found herself compelled to volunteer with the Vitae Corps program in Chicago. During her stay in Chicago, she met with many Sisters of Providence who lived in Northlake and began furthered her discernment process with Sister Teresina Grasso, SP.

“I had to know who I was as a person,” Stephanie said. “I was learning myself and the history of religious life. I wrestled with it.”

Even though she continued to visit with other congregations, Stephanie always felt her heart drawn back to the Sisters of Providence and all of the natural beauty of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Sister Terri Grasso helps present Stephanie to the community as a new postulant.

“I like the quiet pace and I connected with nature,” she said. “I like to be in nature. Something moved me, that at-home feeling. It was probably very subtle, the at-home feeling, to me in little ways. But the quiet felt loud.”

After her stay in 2022, Stephanie went home to Texas and taught at a charter school before coming back for a Come and See Retreat in October of that year.

“I started the process at that time,” she said. “I applied and only three Sisters of Providence knew. I kept everything quiet. It was hard, but all of my experiences have led me to this point.”

Sisters of Providence Postulant Stephanie Rivas

Sisters of Providence Director of Postulants, Sister Editha Ben, SP, will help coordinate Stephanie’s new schedule and ministry.

After a year in the postulancy, Stephanie will be eligible to enter into the first year of the novitiate. At that point, she will receive the title of Sister.

The next Come and See retreat weekend will take place Nov. 3-5. Learn more about the Sisters of Providence here or contact Sister Joni at 361-500-9505 or jluna@spsmw.org if you think you might be called.

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Jason Moon

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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