Four women profess perpetual vows as Sisters of Providence
Four women made a lifelong commitment to living as Sisters of Providence (SP) by professing perpetual vows with the Congregation on June 30, 2013, at the Sisters of Providence motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind.
Who are the women who enter vowed religious life today? What inspires a contemporary woman to choose such a path?
The four recently professed women came to the Congregation from different paths and a variety of life experiences. Each has over the past seven to 10 years undergone spiritual formation, study, and ministry as temporary professed sisters in preparation for this lifelong commitment.
Sister Patty Wallace
Sister Patricia (Patty) Wallace was born in Indianapolis, Ind. She entered the Sisters of Providence from Shreveport, La., in 2003. Sister Patty holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in library science. She currently ministers as an outreach children’s librarian at the Indianapolis Public Library.
Sister Patty says that professing final vows as an SP “is the beginning and continuing of an amazing adventure!”
She thinks women religious have an important role in today’s society.
“The role of women religious is to bring to light injustices where people are excluded, oppressed and treated unfairly. It’s to be a voice for the poor and for those who cannot confront others who oppress them due to lack of resources, fear, or hopelessness. The Sisters of Providence, through our mission and ministry, live this out in ministry and in example. This is the most life-giving way for me to follow my passion for justice,” Sister Patty said of her recent profession.
“The prayer and spirituality of the community excites me because we live out our trust in Providence and reveal the presence of God to each other through prayer. Our community is working hard to respond to the signs of the times and the issues that are critical in the world today.”
Sister Patty says the ten years since she entered the Sisters of Providence have allowed her to grow and thrive.
“The Sisters of Providence, through their unconditional love and gentle challenges, have brought me to a life-giving life of ministry and mission that I never felt was possible,” she said.
Sister Laura Parker
Sister Laura Parker also entered the Congregation in 2003. She was born in Chicago, Ill. and was a parish nurse in River Grove, Ill. at the time of her entrance. Sister Laura holds Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees in nursing and a Master’s degree in pastoral studies from Catholic Theological Union. She currently ministers as a hospice chaplain in DesPlaines, Ill.
“I was a nurse in the middle of my career. I owned a home. I had a [grown] son. I was certainly settled in my life. There was nothing really that I needed or wanted. But there was something that was calling me; something that was missing in life,” Sister Laura said of her entrance 10 years ago.
“When I entered the sisters I found out what I was missing, and it was that call to religious life that gave me so much deeper and richer experience of life. It wasn’t something that I actually lacked, but my spiritual life became richer and deeper. And I realized that all these material things are not what you are aching for in life. My material needs for my ministry was not all I was being called to. I wanted to have that experience be enriched and satisfying and the only thing that fulfilled that was life within the Sisters of Providence and my call to grow spiritually and with God,” Sister Laura said.
Sister Laura sees her role as a Sister of Providence today as being a spiritual presence in the world.
“I wanted to focus on God in my life. So this commitment really grounds me in that. It solidifies my journey.”
She’s excited about her future with the Sisters of Providence.
“There are so many possibilities, and I am being called to this hopeful future with this group of intelligent and inspiring women to stand up with. I am able to stand up and support what I believe in with them,” Sister Laura said.
Sister Deborah Campbell
Sister Deborah, a native of Chicago, has a Bachelor’s degree in business education and a Master’s degree in business administration. She is also a certified public accountant. She currently ministers as an auditor for Catholic Relief Services, where she leads auditing teams to impoverished countries to ensure donor funds are being used properly.
“Working closely with people of many different cultures has expanded my horizons and given me a deeper appreciation for all that I have been given. So many people around the world live on practically nothing, and I have been immensely blessed. It is a very humbling experience to meet these people, listen to their stories and to see where and how they live.
However, at the end of the day I still always have the ‘privilege’ of returning to my own life.”
“These encounters are continually calling me to a deeper transformation within myself. Most days I’m not even sure what that is. But it does challenge me to look at the many things I take for granted and to evaluate how I use the many resources which are at my disposal,” Sister Deborah said.
To women of today wondering if religious life might be for them, Sister Deborah advises that they “pray, pray and pray some more! And most of all, listen to your heart.”
“Joining a religious congregation in the 21st century is neither a popular nor common life choice. It is easy to get pulled in by societal promises … of wealth, power, fame, etc. It is easy to convince yourself that the better thing to do is go with the flow, go with the majority.”
Yet listening to that call from God draws a person to be in solidarity with others. It draws a person to love God and the people of the world, she said.
“I am continually delighted at the many ways that God finds to communicate with me. [God] is full of surprises which I could never ask or even imagine.”
Sister Beth Wright
Sister Beth Wright was not even Catholic when she first felt the call to become a “nun.” But she took seriously the idea, which came to her during prayer time and didn’t go away. She entered the Catholic Church, and then she started looking at being a sister.
Sister Beth is a native of Beech Gove, Ind. She has an Associate’s degree in business and a Bachelor’s degree in human services. She currently ministers as assistant administrator, helping to run Wabash Valley Health Center (also known as St. Ann Medical and Dental Services), a free health center for residents of Terre Haute, Ind. and surrounding communities who would otherwise not have access to health care.
“The questions for me are where is Providence calling me/us in this time and place? What are the urgent needs of this time? How am I/are we being called by Providence to respond to the needs in this time?” Sister Beth said.
For Sister Beth one of the needs of the time that ignites her passion is supporting women.
“Women today have so many more opportunities than they used to have. But, women today, in general, in most cultures, are not considered equal,” she said.
“My passion is ignited when the focus is women’s issues. For me, it is imperative that the roles of women in our world expand so that women’s wisdom, women’s voices are heard and taken seriously. New ways of thinking and being are needed urgently, and the ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ energies have been out of balance far too long — and look at our current world to see the devastating outcome of this imbalance.”
Sister Beth finds inspiration in the Sisters of Providence foundress Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.
“She was a rebel in her own time (business woman, pharmacist, collaborative leader) and that spirit energy touches my own. She and her companions set the tone for the Sisters of Providence community. Through the years and generations, that foundation has been built upon and the charism remains strong and vital. That strength and vitality are needed in these times as well,” Sister Beth said.
The mission of the Sisters of Providence is to honor Divine Providence and to work to further God’s loving plans by devoting themselves to works of love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people.
A Congregation of nearly 350 women, the Sisters of Providence motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods is located just northwest of Terre Haute, Ind.
Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 19 states and the District of Columbia and Taiwan, Singapore and China.
For more information about the Sisters of Providence, visit www.SistersofProvidence.org.