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Meet some newer members

Stephanie Rivas

Hometown: Corpus Christi, Texas

Entrance date and age at time: Sept. 10, 2023; 36 years old

Education and work prior to entering: Bachelor’s in business management; master of education in early childhood. 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 journeys.

Education/ministries since joining: discerning that now

Interests and hobbies: music: listening to, singing and learning instruments; art: drawing, painting, coloring, art journaling; reading; watching movies; laughing; being outdoors

What attracted you to religious life with the Sisters of Providence? What attracted me to the Sisters of Providence was their authenticity, humor, acceptance. The Sisters have always been authentic in witnessing their faith. Faith for the Sisters of Providence is not just praying in a chapel, but praying outside with alpacas, with a leaf or by water, or doing a meditation about food before we eat a meal. Not only is the authenticity present in their lives, but it happens daily in our conversations about mental health, work, social justice issues, how we take care of the earth and spirituality. What stood out for me about humor was during our Come and See retreat, one of the Sisters mentioned about laughing in community which I hadn’t heard before on other vocation retreats. Also, when I visited we cooked in Providence Hall and we would dance. Lastly, acceptance of mind, spirit and body. Vividly I remember coming downstairs to the dining hall and one of the sisters tells me, “There you are! Beautiful as ever!” I received that comment with love in my t-shirt, hat and jeans, on my way to work cleaning alpaca fiber for a few hours. 

Sister Leslie Dao

Hometown: I was born in Viet Nam. I grew up in California and most recently lived in St. Louis.

Entrance date and age at time: Sept. 21, 2021; 44 years old

Education and work prior to entering: Bachelor of Arts in Sociology; Bachelor of Science in Social Work; ministered as a pastoral associate for the Immigrant & Refugee Ministry in St. Louis

Education/ministries since joining: Volunteer at Food Pantry and Providence Health Care

Interests and hobbies: crafts, puzzles and caring for indoor plants

What attracted you to religious life with the Sisters of Providence? The charism and the welcoming and joyful spirit.

Sister Jessica Vitente

Hometown: Pomona, California

Entrance date and age at time: Sept. 10, 2018; 34

Education and work prior to entering: Associates of Science in Accounting from Mt. San Antonio College; Bachelor of Arts in Human Development from California State University of Long Beach; worked in sales for a distributing company.

Education/ministries since joining: living in formation house; music lessons; volunteer Helping hands, Linden Leaf gift shop, Sisters of Providence Mission Advancement office, Catholic Campus Minister at the Newman Center for University of Evansville in Indiana.

Interests and hobbies: running, biking, hiking, dancing, writing in my journal, reading, watching NBA and TV shows

What attracted you to religious life? I attended my first ever Come and See weekend at the Woods and it was in conjunction with the Sisters of Providence’s 175th Anniversary of existence. Since then I have witnessed how radical women religious have responded to the call of religious life with such strength and courage. They were so joyful and happy with each other and their daily ministries. Then I thought to myself I want to have a similar story. So, I stayed connected with many Sisters of Providence. And as time went, finally I came to the conclusion that Providence has been guiding me to follow the path to religious life with the Sisters of Providence. I desire to grow deeper in my relationship with God, continue the common mission of justice, love and mercy. God gave me a purpose that is bigger and greater than myself.

“I was attracted by how lively the sisters are and how they live a profound life. They have a purpose and I have a deep desire to also live a life with purpose.”

Why did you choose the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods? I don’t think I chose the Sisters of Providence, God chose it for me. After several months of the daunting call to explore religious life, I finally gave in and strongly considered the idea. There were many orders and communities to choose and begin the process of discerning. I attended the Los Angeles Religious of Education Congress in Anaheim, California. The very first booth I visited at the Anaheim convention center was the Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. Since then I stayed connected with sisters I met.

Sister Teresa Kang

Hometown: Yunlin, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Entrance date: Sept. 24, 2017

Education and work prior to entering: Baccalaureate in Religious Sciences at Fu Jen Faculty of Theology of St. Robert Bellarmine in Taiwan; Manager of general affairs at St. Dominican Mission Center.

Education/ministries since joining: Postulant year: living in formation house, postulant studies and visitation experiences in order to be immersed into the mission, charism and life of the Sisters of Providence; English Language Institute student at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College; intercommunity pre-novitiate program; and volunteer ministries at Providence Health Care and Helping Hands Thrift Store. Currently working on a master’s degree in leadership development at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

Interests and hobbies: writing, reading, nature, singing, music, walking and watching movies

What attracted you to religious life? What attracted me most to religious life is Jesus Christ. I think this attraction is a special gift of God. I cherish it very much. When I read the gospel of Jesus calling his disciples, the images really touch my heart. I long to be His disciple and to follow Him in a simple lifestyle and for the mission of evangelism. Religious life is a way to help me become a disciple of Jesus.

Why did you choose the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods? I don’t think that I chose the Sisters of Providence, it is God who chose me. I remember the first time I visited Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to participate in a Come and See weekend retreat. That night I slept in the motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence. I felt so peaceful, so much at home. It felt so familiar, like I had been here before. This feeling went through my whole body and soul, which I’d never felt before.

From the process of evading the invitation to the response, I have experienced that “what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2: 9) is unthinkable. God, through my friend Anna’s constant invitation, made me deeply feel His love and inclusiveness.

Sister Emily TeKolste

Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana

Entrance date and age at time: Sept. 7, 2016; Age 28

Education and work prior to entering: bachelor’s degree in sociology from Xavier University; worked in farm-based education, nonprofit management, nannying, entrepreneurship and publishing (web content development)

Education/ministries since joining:
Living in formation community, volunteer ministry in Sisters of Providence Mission Advancement office and as an activities volunteer at Providence Health Care, volunteer at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, teaching sociology and religion at a Catholic high school. Currently a community organizer at NETWORK Catholic social justice lobby in Washington, D.C.

Interests and hobbies: social justice, reading, soccer, running, yoga, writing, TV

What attracted you to religious life with the Sisters of Providence? Relationship. I got to know the Sisters of Providence while living with Sister Tracey Horan before she joined the community, and through her met many other Sisters of Providence. I saw the life and joy sisters exuded and how much fun they had. I saw many sisters engaged deeply with issues that I also care deeply about. And I experienced them calling me to live more deeply within myself – whether it was with them or not.

Sister Anna Fan

Hometown: Hsinchu, Taiwan

Entrance date: Nov. 10, 2014

Education and work prior to entering: International Trade; Baccalaureate in Religious Sciences; Administrative Assistant at Miracle Home

Education/ministries since joining:
-Postulant year: Living in formation house, postulant studies and visitation experiences to be immersed into the mission, charism and life of the Sisters of Providence; English as a Second Language (ESL) student at Indiana State University; intercommunity pre-novitiate program; volunteer ministries at Helping Hands Thrift Store, Providence Food Pantry, Providence Health Care,  administrative assistant at Sisters of Providence ministries in Taiwan.
-Canonical year: intensive immersion into studies supporting discernment for becoming a sister including multiple volunteer ministries; intercommunity novitiate program; volunteer ministries 15 hours per week
-Mission Year: continued studies in ESL; continued volunteer ministries; living in a local community with professed sisters.
Currently ministers as warehouse manager at the Shuhguana Education and Nursing Institute in Taiwan, which cares for people with severe developmental challenges.

Interests and hobbies: reading, nature, table games like jigsaw puzzles, chess, etc.

What attracted you to religious life? Once during Mass, I heard a calling from God. The same day the Gospel was about Jesus saying that heaven is like a pearl and a treasure … another voice asked me if the vocation is like a pearl and a treasure, what do I need to do? If God is offering me a vocation to religious life, why don’t I try it. The vocation is a huge Treasure. I sold EVERYTHING of mine, still I cannot buy this treasure. I only open my heart and my hands to receive God’s gifts.

Why did you choose the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods?
It is God who chose me to be a Sister of Providence through the persistence and invitation of a sister. The sisters are role models in following Jesus and service. They are very kind. Coming from a different culture, I am helped and encouraged to look deeper into myself and share who I am, my feelings and ideas/reflections. In their ministries, they give hope to people by using their talents and gifts to serve.

Sister Tracey Horan

Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana

Entrance date and age at time: Sept. 8, 2014; Age 27

Education and work prior to entering: B.S. In Education, Majors in Middle Childhood Education & Spanish; Work experience as a middle school math teacher, organic garden intern, systemic food security VISTA

Education/ministries since joining: Volunteer ministries in Providence Health Care Activities, Sisters of Providence Mission Advancement office, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Campus Ministry, and ministering with the Spanish-speaking community at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Terre Haute, Indiana. Minstry as a bilingual community organizer with Faith in Indiana. Currently ministers as an education coordinator at KINO Border Initiative in Nogales, Arizona/Mexico.

Interests and hobbies: Anything outdoors — biking, hiking, camping, running; reading about my social justice heroes; dreaming with prophetic sisters and friends about the future of our church and world.

What attracted you to religious life? I saw women who went where others would choose not to go; who spent their energies at the margins of our society with joy and gusto; who supported one another in a common mission while doing the daily work of community life. I looked at these women and said, “That’s how I want to be when I grow up.”

Why did you choose the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods? I experienced probably the most joyful Valentine’s Day of my life cutting a rug with sisters who came out to a SMWC event to raise awareness about violence against women … and wow could they dance! I sat in a room of SP staff members who were briefed about Aldo Leopold’s land ethic and what it means to encounter all creatures as members of our biotic community. I listened to sisters share how they continue to live their vows — what it means to practice prophetic obedience, live single-heartedly, and be in right relationship with all. The sisters draw from a Sacred Presence that is deep and wide, and in my year at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice as an intern, I was blessed to experience that Presence in so many of them.

Sister Joni Luna

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Entrance date: Sept. 17, 2012

Education and work prior to entering: Bachelor’s of Science from University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Master’s in Educational Administration and Supervision from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi University. Head Volleyball Coach, Physical Education Teacher, Women’s Athletic Coordinator, Interim Assistant Principal

Education/ministries since joining: Providence Food Pantry; White Violet Center for Eco-Justice; Saint Mary of-the Woods College Faith Leader; Assistant Principal, Physical Education Teacher at St. Patrick School in Terre Haute; Volleyball Coach; Children’s program director and outreach coordinator at Miracle Place neighborhood ministry in Indianapolis. Currently ministers as vocations director for the Sisters of Providence.

Interests and hobbies: Prayer through art, photography, hiking, camping, swimming, watching movies with friends

What attracted you to religious life? There was a deep yearning and longing for something more than the worldly possessions I had acquired. I prayed to God and ask for guidance and I promised that I would say, “Yes” to whatever God placed on my path. I became Catholic in 2007. I met the Sisters of Providence, and their commitment to love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people made real sense to me. I began to feel God’s unfolding love filling my heart and soul. I knew, little by little, that my Provident God was calling me to serve as a Sister of Providence. 

Why did you choose the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods? I deeply desired to search for whatever my heart and soul was longing for. The void was intense. I found that void being filled each time I visited Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. The more I learned of the life of Saint Mother Theodore and the sisters, the more I wanted to be around them. I knew after each visit that God was calling me to cast my lot with Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and this group of incredible women — the Sisters of Providence — who selflessly and joyfully committed themselves daily to being Christ-like in the world.

The way I see it, I kept saying, “Yes” and God led me here to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Sister Arrianne Whittaker

Hometown: Germantown, Wisconsin

Entrance date and age at time:  January 4, 2012; 25 years old

Education/work prior to entering: B.S. Biomedical Sciences Major, Psychology Minor from Marquette University; Retreat Director at TYME OUT Youth Center, Nashotah, Wis.; Medical Assistant in a Private Neurology Clinic, Waukesha, Wis.; Full time volunteer at St. Ann Medical Clinic (now Wabash Valley Heath Center), Terre Haute, Indiana.

Education/ministries since joining: Garden/alpaca assistant, White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind.; Assistant toddler teacher, Day Early Learning Centers, Indianapolis Ind.; Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine, Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Indianapolis, graduated in May 2019. Currently ministers as a resident physician at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis.


  • Reading anything other than a medical textbook
  • Swimming
  • Watercolor Painting
  • Listening to Carrie Newcomer
  • Journaling
  • Dreaming
  • Spending time in God’s Creation — hiking, camping, biking and more
  • Making and Sharing time with friends
  • Watching the Packers win and teasing the Bears fans in the SP community!!! Go Pack, Go!!!

What attracted you to religious life? Since I can remember I have always been intrigued by the idea of religious life. I suppose I was first attracted to the life when I met a good family friend, and my 8th grade teacher Sister Delores, who is a Sister of St. Francis of Assisi of the Lake from Wisconsin. I was so inspired by her dedication to living simply, and I always admired the deep sense of trust in God that she shared continually with her students. Even though I had the sense that this was a call I may be asked to discover, I didn’t truly begin to explore the idea until I came to the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and worked as a full time volunteer at a free clinic run by the sisters.

Why did you choose the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods? I tend to think I didn’t choose them, in actuality they chose me, or more accurately Providence chose me. When I was finishing my undergraduate degree I wasn’t ready to follow my life-long dream to go on to medical school, so as a back-up plan and to gain a year to organize myself, I decided to apply for a year of volunteer service. I was only accepted by one program, Providence Volunteer Ministry, which was a program sponsored by the Sisters of Providence. When I arrived at the Woods, the attraction I felt to this community and their mission was undeniable. I felt at home and sensed that I belonged with this community, we shared a common story, a common bond, a common love for each other.

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