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We are supported with so much love

During our yearly Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Evening, we offer a special thanks to all of you, our contributors. Truly, without each of you, our mission of love, mercy and justice could not reach so many people in need. During this June’s event, we especially celebrated our mission in Asia. We would like to highlight here a few special supporters who were recognized this year.

The late Viola and Emil Klingenfus

Emil Klingenfus -Queen Amelia Award

Emil’s wife Viola was educated by and then ministered with the Sisters of Providence in Taiwan. The couple have been longstanding supporters of the Sisters of Providence. When Viola passed away in 2016, Emil reached out to us to provide a permanent memorial in memory of Viola. Their endowment fund provides income for travel to and/or from Taiwan for sisters and their companions. The travel assistance has been used for the purpose of education, retreat, family visits and bereavement. This gift is such a blessing and brings our sisters in Taiwan closer to us.

Sister Ann Casper with awardee Noreen Jasinski

Noreen Dennehy Jasinski – Sarah and Joseph Thralls Award

Noreen is described as “the #1 cheerleader for the Sisters of Providence and for Saint Mother Theodore.” Noreen has spent countless hours of her life working on her alma mater Providence High School’s Alumnae Board. She organized reunions, homecoming luncheons and raffles that helped to bring in, over many years, more than one million dollars in support of the retired Sisters of Providence. Noreen helped lead the Chicago Providence Women gathering, a precursor of the Providence Associates, for years and is today a Providence Associate. We wholeheartedly thank this “generous, sharing and caring partner.”

Saint Mother Theodore Companions Awards

Sister Carole Kimes with Bert Richey

Bertha (Bert) Richey

For 32 years Bert Richey has partnered with us as a compassionate and caring nurse’s assistant at Providence Health Care at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. In the midst of COVID-19, Bert was selfless in her service to the sisters’ care. She worked on her days off and worked overtime to make sure the sisters’ needs were being met. She is known for being a champion for those who are unable to give voice in their vulnerable state, or who are lonely, confused or sad.

Sister Laura Parker with Butch Mershon

Kenneth (Butch) Mershon

Butch, a former member of the board of directors for Providence Food Pantry, has been a volunteer at the pantry since 2014. Even at age 80, he is willing and able to do whatever needs doing around the building. Each quarter the team, but mostly Butch, transports more than 35,000 pounds of food to be distributed to people in need. Butch has certainly demonstrated that he is a faithful, reliable and valued volunteer.

Sun Feng Lin

Sun Feng Lin

Sun Feng Lin has journeyed with the Sisters of Providence in Taiwan since she was a child, working with the sisters to help pay for college after her mother died. Successful in the fiber optics industry, Sun now supports students from her alma mater, Providence University in Taiwan, in learning about the field. She continues to support the Sisters of Providence in Taiwan and their ministries. She has been a faithful friend and a confidant during difficult times, has celebrated birthdays, holy days and holidays with us, and has accompanied us when a sister has been ill.

Michael Boswell

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski with Michael Boswell.

Michael Boswell has been associate professor of music at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and the director of choirs for more than 15 years. With Michael, it is not just about the music, it is about his spirit. One of his nominators referred to him as the kind of teacher Saint Mother Theodore Guerin exemplified. He cares deeply about the well-being of each and every student. Thank you, Michael — you have filled our Church of the Immaculate Conception, this entire campus, with Music of the Woods.

Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp with Narie Suh

Narie Suh

Narie has walked with us in mission for the past 16 years. For six years she volunteered with us before being hired in our Mission Advancement office. She is steadfastly focused on carrying out the vision and mission of the Sisters of Providence and works tirelessly to make sure that all the events and projects of the Mission Advancement team happen as planned. Whether it’s carrying the load of two or three people during times of transition, or learning a new database practically overnight, Narie rises to the
occasion, always with a smile on her face and with a “We can do this!” attitude. Narie is not only an unstoppable “doer,” but she is also a deeply spiritual, insightful member of the team.

Virgil and Donna Birgen (in memoriam) – Dujarié award

From left to right: Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, Robert Birgen, Marty Birgen, Ben Birgen, Brian Birgen and Sister Judith (Judy) Birgen, SP.

In her letter thanking the Birgen offspring for their parent’s gift, Sister Dawn Tomaszewski wrote, “I wonder when your Dad was going to school in that one room schoolhouse in South Dakota, if he ever dreamed that someday he and his wife would be in a position to give such a gift and make such a difference in the lives of others.” Virgil and Donna had a 65- year marriage that produced seven children, 14 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, not to mention a whole community of women religious who claim their oldest, Sister Judy, as our own. We thank the Birgens for their devotion to us and to the mission of Providence. Their planned gift was designated for the SP Community Support Trust, our retirement fund that currently helps take care of the needs of approximately 160 sisters. What made this gift so transformational was that it arrived just as that Retirement Fund was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 economy. Adding $1.1 million to the trust at that time was, as we say, providential.

Originally published in the Fall 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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