Meet our postulant Stephanie Rivas
Editor’s note: Stephanie Rivas entered the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, as a postulant on Sept. 10, 2023. Here she shares a bit about herself by way of introduction.
I am Latina from San Antonio, Texas. A “cradle” Catholic, I was raised by a single mom. I have a brother who is about a year older than me.
My faith really didn’t take off until I was in high school. Church became my second home — it was the only thing my mom allowed me to do outside of school! My faith was on fire which helped me decide to attend college at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. I decided to major in business management, because I always envisioned being an office manager. I received my undergrad degree in business.
Call to education
After graduating with my bachelor’s and throughout my twenties, I just wanted to live life, have fun and put faith on the back burner.
I completed a year of service with Jesuit Volunteer Corps in 2010-11 in the after-school program at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, Maryland, which is affiliated with Mother Mary Lange and the Oblate Sisters of Providence. I really enjoyed working with the children in the after-school program where I volunteered and wanted to see the direct impact of my work with children. So I learned I wanted to teach, and I continued to live life, worked, dated, had my own apartment and my car. I worked full time and went to school at night to pursue my master’s degree in education. In 2019, I became single and felt stuck. I finally sought spiritual direction. From there I sold my car and taught for my first year of teaching with the Red Cloud Volunteer Program. Then COVID happened.
Call to religious life
The call to religious life became clearer by having different experiences of working and living with others in the community. Also, during the pandemic I was able to really tune into my prayer life, by going to adoration by myself and doing daily mass online.
The call to religious experience has always been there. I just now am more aware of it than ever. Prior to that I would continue to perceive little nudges. I would see a sister from another congregation in a white habit taking classes at my public university. I didn’t really pay much attention to it at the time. My most recent memory happened the weekend prior to my moving to Indiana. I went to the mall to get my watch battery fixed. I was on the south side of San Antonio where Mexican music culture is alive and thriving walking through the mall, and I heard a song playing. It was “I Will Follow Him” from the movie Sister Act. God has a sense of humor.
Everything I did up until that moment: work, unhealthy friendships, romantic relationships, was not satisfying anymore. Deep down a part of me knew I was not on the right path. In realizing this I finally had to give in to Jesus fully. I started praying really hard. I would go to daily mass and sometimes sit there and cringe at the readings like UGH!!! OK, Jesus, you’re speaking to me.
Some of my favorite things …
Favorite quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
Favorite book: “Messengers of the Wind” by Jane Katz and “A Gift of Joy and Hope” by Pope Francis
Favorite movie: The Greatest Showman, Les Miserables (Liam Neeson version)
Favorite saint: Saint Therese the Little Flower and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin
Favorite way to pray: outside, with music, with others, in silence
Some favorite pastimes: roller skating at the roller-skating rink, enjoying hot tea on a cold fall/winter evening watching a movie with others in community
Favorite Bible verse: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-4
Jesus at the center
Jesus became my most important person who I put at the forefront of everything. I felt compelled to go all in with prayer, daily mass and Eucharistic adoration.
Most of my free time outside of work and hanging out with friends was spent at church: hanging out at church and also accompanying others on their journey. It was something I would always come back to.
God has nudged me in small ways and big ways. I kept seeing sisters and nuns in my dreams, on TV, and, after I returned home from a vocation retreat, one time even at the DMV.
Why did I choose to join the Sisters of Providence? The mission of the Sisters of Providence is to reach out to others who are not always included and to help those who face injustice by accompanying them and serving them in a broad range of ministry areas. This is something I have passion for and feel that I have done already in ministry and in my prior work experience.
I’ve worked in a variety of areas, from education to working with babies, to special education with children and adults, to the enrollment process in higher education, to accompanying others on their spiritual journey.
As a life-long learner, what motivates me is being with others in community, especially with other Sisters of Providence. I have so much to learn and share in this reciprocal community relationship.
My hopes and dreams have finally happened!!! Being here brings me joy; learning, reflecting, sharing, giving and receiving. I’m grateful to continue the path as a postulant with the Sisters of Providence. I’m excited to see what the future entails and pray to continue to live out the legacy and mission of the Sister of Providence in my daily life.
Learn more about becoming a Sister of Providence!Become.SistersofProvidence.org