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Sister Leslie Dao professes first vows

“I thank God for giving me a second family. I am now officially a member of the Sisters of Providence.”

Those words were echoed shortly after Sister Leslie Dao professed her first vows with the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, on Sunday, June 30, 2024, during a celebration in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

For Sister Leslie, professing first vows is just a continuation of how much she loves the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence.

Drawn In

“I was drawn to the Sisters of Providence by the Charism, by the welcoming spirit, the gentle smile, the little caring note and the kind gestures,” she admitted. “They have led me to believe this is the right community; a community I would like to belong.”

Sister Leslie Dao (center) professing first vows with General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski (left) and Father Terry Johnson.

A native of Vietnam, Sister Leslie’s family immigrated to the United States in 1990 and settled in Kansas City, Missouri. She is the youngest of 15 children.

After her family moved to California, she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from California State University. She also has a bachelor of science degree in social work from the University of Missouri in St. Louis.

Prior to meeting the Sisters of Providence, Sister Leslie was a woman religious in another Congregation and ministered in Texas with Catholic Charities. Eventually, she moved back to Missouri and started ministering at St. Pius Parish in St. Louis. It was there where she learned about the Sisters of Providence.

She began correspondence with Sister Editha Ben, who at the time was the Vocations Director for the Sisters of Providence. Eventually, in 2019, she spent a weekend at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and felt pulled toward the Congregation.

Sister Leslie Dao.

A Love of the Woods

“I loved the environment,” Sister Leslie said. “It was so joyful and very welcoming.”

In April 2021, Sister Leslie began the process of entering the Sisters of Providence and was welcomed in September 2021.

In August 2022, Sister Leslie entered the novitiate, and began a year of studying scripture, Congregation and church history while developing a deeper connection to God, community and the world.

“For the past three years while in formation, I have encountered sisters who lived their vows life fully and joyfully,” Sister Leslie said. “They use their gifts and talents to fight for justice, to accompany those in need and to build up the Kin-dom of God on earth.

“I am so happy and grateful to God and to the sisters for allowing me to share in a life of faith, to honor Divine Providence and further God’s loving plans by collaborating with others through works of love, mercy and justice.”

Sister Leslie currently ministers in Chicago as a community organizer with the Coalition for Spiritual and Public Leadership.

A Desire to Collaborate

Sister Leslie said her relationship with the Congregation’s foundress, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, has given her the desire to immerse herself deeper into her love for God and vowed life.

“I feel drawn to Mother Theodore’s zeal, courage, caring and loving, especially her complete trust in the providential of God,” she said. “I want to collaborate with others to fight for justice, be a member of this community and follow in the legacy of Mother Theodore.”

Sister Leslie Dao.

The Next Steps

Following her profession of first vows, Sister Leslie will become a temporarily professed Sister of Providence until she commits to perpetual vows, according to Sisters of Providence Director of Novices, Sister Norene Wu.

“Sister Leslie will have a mentor, a Sister of Providence appointed by (Sisters of Providence General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski) with the consent of her General Council, to journey with her during her temporary profession phase,” Sister Norene said.

“I will conduct a ritual of transition to help Sister Leslie and her mentor to know each other and transitioning the responsibilities of companionship and guidance to the mentor.”

A ‘Privilege’

Sister Norene added she is “privileged” to know Sister Leslie.

“I have gotten to know Sister Leslie on a deeper level and witness her growth as a person and as a Sister of Providence,” Sister Norene said. “She is a beautiful person gifted in many ways, especially in her spiritual relationship with God.

“I am very proud of her growth and happy to witness her to vow herself as a Sister of Providence.”

Would you like to learn more about life as a Sister of Providence? Visit our website or contact Sister Joni Luna, Sisters of Providence Vocations Director at 361-500-9505 or at jluna@spsmw.org.

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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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