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Sisters take part in monument unveiling

Two Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, took part in the unveiling of a monument dedicated to Frederick Douglass on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024.

Both Sister Donna Butler, SP, and Sister Paula Damiano, SP, joined many residents from Terre Haute and other area communities for the unveiling.

The monument rests outside near the intersection of Wabash Avenue and 7th Street in Terre Haute, near where the Terre Haute House once stood.

Sister Donna Butler (left) and Sister Paula Damiano next to the monument for Frederick Douglass in Terre Haute.

Douglass visited Terre Haute many times during his lifetime and was the first African-American man to stay in the Terre Haute House, which was located where the Hilton Garden Inn now stands.

“It was quite an event,” Sister Paula said. “It was Valentine’s Day and for those of us who follow Christian tradition, it was also Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten Season. It’s a day of love and a day of repentance.

“To me, it was a perfect day to celebrate Frederick Douglass … a man of deep faith, a man of love, a man who sought repentance and change for this country.”

In addition, Sister Paula offered a prayer to those in attendance during the event, which follows:

“Frederick Douglass once wrote about his own faith: ‘I finally found my burden lightened, and my heart relieved. I loved all mankind, slaveholders not excepted, though I abhorred slavery more than ever. I saw the world in a new light.’

“So, let us pray that we may be people who seek truth, who act out of love, who see the world in a new light:

“God, give the people in this community of Terre Haute a spirit of unity which Frederick Douglass so desired for this nation. May we work together for the good of our city. Let all barriers, strongholds and divisions come down as we strive together for peace. Let us be attentive to the cries of the poor, the disenfranchised, the lonely, the abandoned. May we treat all with respect, fairness and love. May compassion guide us to see all as sons and daughters of the Divine. And may this community be known for its justice and care for every person.

“And so, we bless this statue of Mr. Douglass … an example to us of how to live a life of love, mercy and justice for all.

“Let us say … Amen.”

Area historian Dr. Crystal Reynolds helped spearhead the monument being placed and local sculptor Bill Wolfe created the piece. Wolfe also created the Larry Bird statue, as well as the sitting Max Ehrmann monument, the Charles Abrell War Memorial and the Terre Haute Schulte High School Golden Bear monument, all located in Terre Haute, and four murals in the Vigo County Courthouse, including one telling the story of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

Donors for the creation and placement of the monument included the Wabash Valley Community Foundation, the City of Terre Haute and the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at Indiana State University.

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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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  1. Avatar Deb on February 16, 2024 at 6:36 am

    What a wonderful honor to and recognition of Frederick Douglass and his work. And of course the participation by Sisters of Providence emphasized the love, mercy, and justice he also sought. Thank you.

  2. Avatar Cynthia MacWhorter on February 16, 2024 at 7:39 am

    A truly significant reminder to all of us of what community is all about. Beautiful, prayerful tribute, Sister Paula!

  3. Avatar Bill Hughes on February 16, 2024 at 9:26 am

    Sister Paula’s prayer was not only inspiring but also couched in language inclusive enough to inspire people from any religious tradition—or none. Thank you, Paula!

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