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Newsnotes from HOPE winter 2024

Sister Marie Brendan Harvey honored with renaming

Sister Marie Brendan Harvey

On October 27, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) celebrated the renaming of the Conservatory of Music Auditorium to the Marie Brendan Harvey Auditorium, in honor of the late Sister Marie Brendan Harvey, SP.

Sister Marie Brendan graduated from SMWC in 1951 and later taught at the college. She also founded the college singing group, the Madrigals.

Sister Marie Brendan ministered at SMWC for 18 years, serving as a professor of vocal music, director of the College Chorale and the director of the College Madrigals. Following her time at the school, she served in pastoral ministry.

During the celebration in October, Sisters of Providence General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, SP, offered the blessing of the renaming, stating “May this Marie Brendan Harvey Auditorium and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, both unique in all the world, be the home of virtue, a shrine of knowledge.”

Sisters, College unveil historic district sign marker

A total of 66 buildings at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, many of which are Sisters of Providence buildings, including the Church of the Immaculate Conception and the Saint Anne Shell Chapel.

(From left) Sister Jan Craven, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) representative Dee Reed, former SMWC representative Susan Dolle (behind Reed) and Sister Paula Damiano (back) watch as Sister Dawn Tomaszewski and SMWC Interim President Brennan Randolph unveil the sign marker.

On Monday, Sept. 25, the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Historic District sign marker was unveiled near the entrance to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, on the Avenue. Many Sisters of Providence joined administrators from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College for the official unveiling.

The historic district is approximately 67 acres, mostly wooded. It is deemed significant in two criteria: Its association with events and people who have made important contributions to broad patterns of U.S. history, particularly in education and religion, and the distinct characteristics and high artistic values of architecture at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

“There’s no place like Saint Mary-of-the-Woods,” said General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, SP.

Sister Barbara Battista, Providence Associate Sandra Wickware recognized by NAACP

The Greater Terre Haute Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recently recognized Sister Barbara Battista, SP, with their 2023 Humanitarian Award.

NAACP awardee Providence Associate Sandra Wickware, at left, with Sister Dawn Tomaszewski.

Sister Barbara was recognized for “passionate social justice advocacy, death penalty opposition, and volunteerism supporting underserved people as a physician assistant.”

Many Sisters of Providence who attended the ceremony received the award for Sister Barbara. She was not able to attend as she had to report for surgery in Indianapolis the next morning to donate one of her kidneys to someone in need.

Sister Barbara learned she received the award through a message from another sister at the event.

“This took me by complete surprise,” Sister Barbara said. “I am humbled. It is touching. I have worked with various members of the NAACP, but I never expected to be recognized in such a manner.”

Providence Associate Sandra Wickware also received recognition during the ceremony for Community Service. The award was given to Sandra for “exemplary anti-racism advocacy and volunteer service mentoring children and incarcerated women.”

Sandra volunteers with CASA, Kairos Ministry, Foster Grandparents, Ryves Hall Community Center and the NAACP, serving as the organization’s Criminal Justice committee chair.

Make a difference with the Sisters of Providence: Volunteer

We invite you to volunteer with the Sisters of Providence! We can help you find a perfect fit at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, in West Terre Haute or even virtually from afar. Volunteers help our ministries continue and thrive.

Come join our sisters in volunteering! Here Sister Claire Hanson volunteers in Mission Advancement at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Volunteer individually or as a group. We love to host schools, service groups, sports teams, young adult groups, clubs or any other group for days of service or ongoing opportunities throughout the year.

Volunteers can help at the White Violet Farm with weeding, painting or cleaning out the barns. Opportunities are available at Providence Food Pantry and at Helping Hands thrift store in West Terre Haute. We welcome many volunteers at our community events like Christmas Fun at the Woods. Volunteers beautify shrines or other outdoor spaces around Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. As a volunteer, you may also choose your own adventure — work with our volunteer coordinator to come up with a unique project that is perfect for you.

Spring Volunteer Open House

Join us and bring a friend from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2 p.m.- 6 p.m. EST., on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, in the Foley Room of Providence Spirituality and Conference Center. Enjoy light refreshments as you learn more about all of the ways you can make a difference. Contact Sarah at 812-535-2878 or volunteer@spsmw.org to learn more.

Welcome new Providence Associates

We welcomed 20 new Providence Associates to our Providence Community on Saturday, Oct. 21, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. We are blessed that these individuals answered God’s call to enter more deeply into our community and into a mission of love, mercy and justice in their daily lives.

Those making commitments as Providence Associates in 2023 include (front row, from left) Maureen Dickinson, Mary Beth Mullen, Betsy Simon, Sandra Chappell, Linda Doyle, Jo-Ann Jones, Kathryn (Kay) Smith, (middle) Patrice LeMaire, Nathan Stroup, Kimberly Faught, Patty Thoms, Gwenn Goebel, Jesica Hollinger, (back) Elizabeth (Liz) Tyler, Connie Bauer, Carla Leinwander and Providence Associate Co-Directors Debbie Dillow and Sister Susan Paweski. Not pictured: Genevieve Costello, Joshua Craft-Rutan, Christine Malekani and Merrilinda Nichols.

Woods Core brings sisters, students together

By Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp, SP

What would make Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) students want to connect with Sisters of Providence they had never met?

Sister Rosemary Nudd gives a tour leading to the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin to students in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College’s Woods Core 100 class.

Sophomores Josie Gettinger and Katelynn Braun said there were two reasons: 1) curiosity and 2) Woods Core 100.

During their first year, students are required to take Woods Core 100, taught primarily by Sisters of Providence. They learn about Sisters of Providence history and tour key sites and ministries such as the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore, St. Anne Shell Chapel and Archives. “Woods Core 100 made it real … Sister Jan was giving a tour and I thought, ‘She is so cool.’ I thought the same of the sisters in Archives,” Josie said. Student Quinlan Teague said the class, “leaves the students wanting to know more, which encourages them to reach out to the sisters on their own.” Katelynn said, “I loved learning the history of the school. I think it makes me stop and appreciate the school more than what I did before.”

Making friends

At the beginning of sophomore year, Josie gathered some of her friends (including Katelynn and Quinlan) and began to reach out to the sisters, taking cinnamon rolls to Sisters at Corbe House and Providence Hall. They (and some more of their friends) later took cookies to the sisters at Woodland Inn and have enjoyed evenings of conversations there.

“Being able to grow a relationship with the sisters has made a huge impact on my career at SMWC. It is something that I will never forget,” Katelynn said.

As one of the sisters who has enjoyed the visits by Josie, Katelynn, Quinlan and others, I would say that we, the sisters, are equally curious about the students and “think they are so cool.” Their visits have been a beginning to a closer relationship. We are so grateful for Josie’s initiative in bringing the Woods community together.

Guests from Belgium

Sister Barbara Ann Bluntzer (second from left) with our Belgium guests (from left) Christian Ninane, Sister of Providence from France Arlette Troisfontaines, Nicole Schmit and Blandine Charlier Ninane.

During the first half of October, we were grateful to host four guests from Belgium, including a Sister of Providence from Ruillé-sur-Loir, France.

From Oct. 2-15, Sister Arlette Troisfontaines, S.P., stayed at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods along with Blandine Charlier Ninane, Christian Ninane and Nicole Schmit. The group stayed at Woodhaven while here.

They visited many sites at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, including the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Shrine, White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, Providence Health Care, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and our Archives Department. They also traveled to Chicago, Jasper and Vincennes to visit past and current ministry sites.

The Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loir were founded in 1806 by Jacques-Francois Dujarie. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin entered the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loir in 1823 and in 1840 traveled to Indiana to establish a teaching ministry. Mother Theodore and her five sister companions eventually established the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Originally published in the Winter 2024 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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