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Being a Providence Associate has made a difference

When you become a Providence Associate, you join in mission and community with the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods by serving as you are able in your day-to-day life. We asked several of our Providence Associates to share how being an associate has made a difference in their lives. Read here as they share how they have been touched by the Community and the Woods. Learn more about how you could become a Providence Associate at ProvidenceAssociates.org.

“It is such a beautiful feeling to be a part of a community of like-minded women and men with the same common thread of love, mercy and justice. Developing relationships with like-minded people has greatly enhanced my life. I thank God for this and I am forever grateful.”
— Providence Associate Vonda Monts, retired business owner, Terre Haute, Indiana 

“In 2015 while doing water aerobics at a Malden, Massachusetts, pool I was telling someone in the locker room that I needed to find spiritual direction in my life. Sister Shawn McDermott overheard me and told me about the Provident Associates. Today my husband of 59 years and I are both associates. Two years ago we moved to an independent 62+ building in New Hampshire. Our ministry has come alive helping our neighbors and spreading Jesus’ love through our actions.”
Providence Associate Josephine Carbonaro (pictured at left with the late Sister Shawn Marie McDermott), spiritual seeker, Bedford, New Hampshire

“I served as a court appointed special advocate (CASA) in Vigo County for several years. My soul was growing weary seeing so much suffering of children in our area and experiencing firsthand a broken system. After pleading a case desperately requesting that a child I was representing not be sent back to her parents’ house and being overruled, I decided to take a break…. I was looking for something to heal my broken heart and re-fill my lost soul. I kept seeing and hearing about Providence Associates. A friend of mine posted on social media that she was a Providence Associate, so I called her to ask some questions. I prayed on it and decided to sign up. 
“I have benefited from local Circle meetings. The Circle environment allows for in-depth conversation that presents different views on monthly topics. Being an associate has opened my eyes not only in ways that allow community involvement but to the world view. Interaction with different members of the circle and community is my favorite part. I always leave my circle with new ideas to research and consider. Providence is constantly on my mind. It is life’s mission to spread Providence wherever you go!”
— Providence Assoicate Kathleen Lammert, SMWC graduate, wife/mom/grandma, human resources administrator,
Terre Haute, Indiana

“I am an ‘outside the four walls of the church’ follower of Jesus, much like the Sisters of Providence are. The mutual spiritual support and synergy between the sisters and their associates are the key components necessary to further the kingdom of God in today’s world. I am honored and empowered by being a part of this Community.”
— Providence Associate Sue Ellen Keaton, Terre Haute, Indiana

“When Providence Associates started, I was already relating to a lot of SPs in various ways, so I joined with the first band (2007). Knowing the Sisters of Providence has enriched my life — they’re an incredibly talented collection of women.
— Paul Salstrom, lifelong activist and retired history professor at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana

“My desire to be a Providence Associate was rooted in my longing to live an authentic life that is consistent with my values and true to the calling from my God. Through this relationship, I have come to learn more about the Congregation and its ministries, and to find ways that I can help to further the mission of Providence. It has challenged and called me to trust in God and the direction that God has given to my life. As I seek to live a life of personal integrity, I also want to live a life of occupational integrity. I have found that the values of Fair Trade that I try to uphold every day in my work are wholly consistent with the values of Providence and the Sisters of Providence. Rooted in long-term, transparent relationships, Fair Trade seeks to advocate for fairness for the most marginalized in society by ensuring safe working conditions and fair wages; advancing gender equity and empowering women; caring for Earth through environmental stewardship; respecting the rights of children; and preserving cultural traditions. This is the path of Providence that God has carved out for me. Walking along with the Sisters of Providence and Providence Associates strengthens the connection and deepens my experience of the God of Providence and her intersection with my daily life.”
— Providence Associates Joan Frisz, SMWC graduate and executive director of Just Creations, a not-for-profit Fair-Trade store, Louisville, Kentucky

“I always felt a very strong connection to the Providence Community, but more than anything I wanted that to be expressed out loud on both sides. So the Providence Associate relationship was exactly the right thing for me. It has mended a gap in my life that I always felt until the relationship was offered and once again I was on that altar declaring my commitment to love, mercy and justice and my relationship to this Community. As an enormous bonus, I gained a small community of associates and sisters out here on the West Coast. We feel the distance from the Woods but nurture our relationships here and across the continent. I suppose all associates say this, but I’ll repeat — this has deepened my spirituality in ways that I’d never predicted.”
— Providence Associate Jeannie Smith (pictured right above with Sister Rosemary Nudd), former Sister of Providence and retired ocean scientist. Solana Beach, California

“I so admired the Sisters and their ministries that I wanted a close association with them. Through being a Providence Associate, I have found a lot of joy and peace. They don’t push anything on you or ask anything specific. The relationship has just brought a lot of quiet joy to my life.”
— Providence Associate Mickie Lane-Fredericks (above right), former teacher and Sisters of Providence volunteer. Terre Haute, Indiana

“I daily think about my commitments in my work and how I can make a difference in the lives of others. I love the Prayer of Reunion, especially the last line, “O divine Jesus, keep us yours always,” which reminds me every day that I need to rely on God for everything I am and everything I do.”
— Providence Associate Michelle Tesar Barrentine, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) 1978, 2016(M). San Antonio, Texas

“I came to understand what being a Providence Associate really was. It was not only sharing the love of God, but also becoming part of a larger family who not only loves God but who together can accomplish the mission God sets before them by leaning on each other and, most importantly, leaning on the strength, power and love of God.”
— Providence Associate Pat Bowen (above at left), retired food services staff for the Sisters of Providence. Gale, Illinois

“I wanted to become an associate because at my every interaction with the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and the women they formed at their college, I have been treated with great compassion. My faith has grown because of the grace and joy of their example. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods is always a source of beauty: the grounds and the artists and musicians developed there. When I learned of the Providence Associates, I was all in. Again, Mother Guerin watched over me. Debbie Dillow was my sponsor, now my friend — still a guide for my soul. Every time I am in connection with the sisters, the associates or the Woods friends in my youth, I feel loved. I learn something. I guess I could say I encounter love, mercy and justice.”
— Providence Associate Theresa Tighe, retired journalist, Saint Louis, Missouri

“For nine years, I took my dog, Bennie, to Providence Health Care for therapy sessions with the sisters. During that time, I learned a great deal about Providence spirituality from sisters who were in Health Care.… Meeting all these sisters enhanced my spiritual life. Most deeply, the connection to Saint Mother Theodore has brought a new dimension to my meditation and prayer life.”
— Providence Associate Judy Collins, retired teacher/ researcher/therapist. Terre Haute, Indiana

“I am enriched by the Providence Associates I meet. I am definitely more hopeful for our world through getting to know them. I am often taken out of my comfort zone in my Providence Circle meetings and the meetings at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. I am learning to be a woman of gratitude for the many blessings that I receive. I hope I’m becoming more open-minded, a better listener and less judgmental person.”
— Providence Associate Betty Sloan (above center), former sister, retired teacher/principal/social worker/therapist. Indian Head Park, Illinois

“I feel an overwhelming sense of renewed purpose for my life. The golden three strand cord of love, mercy and justice, now intertwined in my everyday living, has helped me stay more in the present and more aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit moment by moment, breath by breath and of my heartfelt desire to collaborate with Providence as well as lean into my personal calling in life. The treasured gift of walking alongside two SPs (Sisters Mary Ann McCauley and Ann Matilda Holloran, SP) in my candidacy will be without a doubt one of the highlights of my life. To be a small part of the family of believers of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, a community of ‘shakers’ and ‘movers’ for God within our community, state, nation and world, is priceless and Providence!
Providence Associate Laura Tucker, owner and operator of Merle Norman Day Spa. Terre Haute, Indiana

“The most impactful women in my life, other than my mother and aunts, have been the Sisters of Providence. They have been some of the best teachers in my life. Being a Providence Associate has helped me deepen my relationship with God. I have learned so much about the charism of Jesus. I have been able to bring this love into my life and work. I listen with more intent and support students’ dreams even when they don’t seem like they can make it.”
— Providence Associate Adriana Gonzales, mom, doctoral candidate and director of transfer at Malcolm X College. Chicago, Illinois

“Becoming a Providence Associate has given me a new focus and an anchor in my spiritual growth. In my commitment, I took on a mission.… My commitment fits in with my life and enriches my life. It strengthens my beliefs with a focus and a purpose outside of myself. It’s just me making my way along the path of love, mercy and justice. I am learning about Providence. I am learning to know our Provident God as Mother Theodore knew, and put my faith in Providence.
— Providence Associate Della Gunning, wife, mother,grandmother. Corpus Christi, Texas

Originally published in the Fall 2023 issue of HOPE magazine.

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Advancement Services office. Amy is a 1998 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She currently manages the SP publication HOPE and works on marketing support for Providence Associates, new membership and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

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  1. Avatar Debbie Griffey on October 18, 2023 at 1:50 pm

    These stories are so inspiring! My own path has opened wider as a Providence Associate. One of the best journeys I’ve ever experienced. Thank you, Amy, for gathering these stories.

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