Sisters recognize benefactors at annual dinner
Approximately 250 benefactors joined the Sisters of Providence for a meal and award presentation during the annual Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Dinner at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods on Saturday, June 2.
The dinner takes place annually to honor benefactors for their gifts of time, talent and resources, while also presenting the Queen Amelia, Sarah and Joseph Thralls, and the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Companion awards.
“It is our hope that you will be confirmed in our belief that all of us in this room, as well as hundreds of others not in attendance, are, as our theme for tonight suggests, ‘Together in Mission,’” Sisters of Providence General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski said. “As Mother Theodore wrote some 170-plus years ago, that mission for which so many have sacrificed so much.
“That mission lives on in our sisters, associates and ministry partners today, and in the relationships and support so many of you offer us.”
The Queen Amelia Award honors those who have significantly contributed financially to the Congregation and who have been influential in informing others of its life and mission. The award is named for Queen Amelia of France, wife of King Louis Philippe, who was a major benefactor for the Congregation in the mid-1800s. She also encouraged her husband and family to contribute to the Congregation, which at the time, was struggling financially.
This year, the sisters recognized Paul J. Adams III for the award. Adams’ relationship with the Sisters of Providence dates back to 1971 when he became the director of guidance at Providence St. Mel High School. In 1978, he negotiated a deal with the sisters to purchase the school in order to keep it operational for the youth of Chicago’s west side.
“You started out concerned about high school youth and over the years have expanded the education there from pre-school through grade 12,” Sister Dawn said. “This year, Providence St. Mel celebrated 40 years of 100 percent acceptance of its senior graduates into four-year colleges.”
The Sarah and Joseph Thralls Award honors individuals, a family or a group that has made significant contributions especially of time, talent and expertise. It is named in honor of the family that offered hospitality by way of a cabin in a dense forest to Mother Theodore and her five companions after they arrived at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840 and continued to assist them as they adjusted to pioneer life in Indiana.
This year, the sisters recognized Jude Magers and Donna Watzke for the award. Magers is a former Sister of the Holy Cross – whose Congregation is based in Notre Dame, Indiana – and Watzke is a former Sister of Providence. Both are also Providence Associates.
“In addition to your service as board members, facilitators and financial benefactors, both of you have been the backbone of many Providence Associate activities and prime movers in the development of Providence circles,” Sister Dawn said.
The Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Companions Award was established in honor of Sisters St. Vincent Ferrer, Basilide Seneschal, Olympiade Boyer, Mary Xavier Leree and Mary Liguori Tiercin, the five sister companions who supported Mother Theodore and remained by her side assisting her as needed while offering their own wisdom and perseverance to advance the mission.
This year, the sisters recognized the 8th Day Center for Justice, based in Chicago, as well as Barbara Cottrell, Father Dan Hopcus, Magdalena “Maggie” Martinez and April and Brad Bradley for the award.
Barbara – who is a Providence Associate – served with the sisters as a long-time member of their Anti-Racism Committee while Father Dan – also a Providence Associate – ministers as the chaplain of the Congregation. Magdalena received the award through her work with Providence Family Services while April and Brad Bradley received the award for their work with the sisters’ Providence in the Desert ministry.