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FAQ about Providence Associates

Sister Paula Damiano with Providence Associate Shawn Shamsaie.

What do Providence Associates do?

As a Providence Associate, you are asked to join the Sisters of Providence in our mission of collaborating with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy. This may mean doing no more than what you already do in your everyday life. So many people are already giving within their community to help people in need. Some help at the local food pantry, or teach others about Christ. Others serve at a soup kitchen or visit shut-ins to deliver communion or a spot of cheer. As a Providence Associate, you come up with your own set of commitments. You choose according to what fits your life and situation. And you receive support from the Providence community to sustain you in the mission.

Do I have to be Catholic to be an associate?

No. People from a variety of faith backgrounds can become Providence Associates. While many associates are Catholic, as are the Sisters of Providence, all people of faith are welcomed.

What does becoming an associate involve?

After you let us know you are interested, we follow up with a phone conversation between you and one of the co-directors. What is drawing you to this particular relationship? What questions do you have? Following the phone conversation, should you want to move forward, the Providence Associate co-director will mail you an application to complete and return. As part of the application process, we ask for the names of two people who would write a letter of affirmation about you. Next comes an orientation day at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. You are partnered with a sister or associate companion who meets with you for monthly discussions over the course of a year. At the end of the year, you can choose to make a one-year commitment to the Sisters of Providence as a Providence Associate. This commitment is renewable one year at a time.

How much time does it take to become a Providence Associate?

Your first year, called the candidate-associate year, begins with an orientation day with your companion at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on a Saturday in November. Afterward, you will meet with your companion for approximately two hours every 4-6 weeks for the next 11 months. Before each meeting you will prepare by reading and reflecting on one of seven Spiritual Integration Units (on prayerful living, Providence, mission, etc.) As the candidate you read, reflect and pray with each section at your own pace. You then reflect together with your companion and share on these units when you meet.

As a candidate, the sisters invite you but do not require you to participate in community gatherings, celebrations, retreats and activities.

Can men become Providence Associates?

Yes, the relationship is open to all adult people of faith.

Do I have to be single to become a Providence Associate?

No, the relationship is open to people in all walks of life.

What if I don’t know any Sisters of Providence?

That’s OK! We will set you up with a companion who you will get to know well. There will be many opportunities to interact with sisters and other associates at retreats and meetings throughout the year.

Does it cost anything to become a Providence Associate?

No, there is no fee to become an associate. As a Providence Associate, we do ask that you cover the actual cost of retreats and annual meetings at the Woods that you attend. If you aren’t able to cover these costs, we have a scholarship fund set up to help. We do greatly appreciate any donations a person feels called to give as together we bring forth the mission of bringing God’s love, mercy and justice in the world.

What is the difference between a vowed member and an associate?

They are two distinct ways of being in relationship.

• A vowed member of the Sisters of Providence is a single, Catholic woman who follows God’s call to make a life commitment and live in community as a religious sister. After many years of formation and preparation, she professes lifetime vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

• Providence Associates are women and men of diverse faiths. We are called to be in a relationship with the Sisters of Providence for period of time. Associates continue living their own individual lives, while deepening their spirituality by walking with the Sisters of Providence. They do not profess vows with the Congregation, but instead make commitments for one, three or five years at a time.

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