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Works and Ministries of the Sisters of Providence

The everyday actions of the Sisters of Providence help people. The sisters, each in her own way, are involved in the Mission and continue the work of Emilie. Offered below are four examples of actions taking place in different parts of the world.

Sister Ema Maureira, Tocopilla, Chile

My Parish Pastoral Ministry in Tocopilla, Chile

by Sister Ema Maureira Gonzalez, SP

I live and work in the beautiful far north of my country, Chile, in the city of Tocopilla, which I love for its landscapes of mountains and sea. In this local community, there are two of us, simple, humble and charitable sisters. Every day we place ourselves in the hands of our Provident God and our Mother of Sorrows. We pray for the entire world, especially for vocations and for our approaching General Chapter.

I arrived in this place in February 2013, putting myself at the service of the parish pastoral ministry. Father Ramón Henríquez Ulloa, who comes from Los Angeles in the south, near Temuco, accompanies us in this ministry.

I am currently carrying one of the most appreciated ecclesial tasks of our Church, i.e., family catechesis. I am the catechesis facilitator of the Nuestra Señora del Carmen Parish; I and others work in a team with Father Ramón, who is our guide.

I feel happy to move toward my goal in this ministry.  I know I can do it because I’m ready for whatever may happen. I facilitate meetings to prepare baptisms, marriages and confirmations. I do liturgical celebrations, expose the Blessed Sacrament, participate in retreats with adults, youth and children, and give a course on the Bible. I am passionate about all of these tasks, because, in addition to deepening my Biblical knowledge, I can guide others in deepening their knowledge and love of God.

Whenever the parish priests are absent for any reason, Sister Herna Astorga, SP and I are available to respond or for leading the prayers offered at the cemetery.  Moreover, every Friday I go to Antofagasta to accompany the community there and to open the church for any eventuality.  Thus, Ms. Aurora Suazo and her collaborators can offer their workshops and I can take the opportunity to give them a course about the Bible.

Here, in Tocopilla, I animate up to five Masses on Sundays. I am grateful to my Congregation for the formation I have received and for the courses I followed when I was young; thanks to them, I learned a lot. Now, that I have matured, I am useful to my brothers and sisters in different communities. I am a simple person; simplicity opens doors. If there is something I do not know, I ask; I search and look for the information to give a correct answer.

Now, I am 70, but I feel like 40. Although I sometimes get a bit tired, I recover quickly. With so much wealth of health, time flies; I think it is because the days are busy with so many things that have to be done!

Providence of God, I thank you for all.

Sisters Thérèse Drainville and Micheline Larche, Montreal, Canada

The Communication Office of Émilie-Gamelin Province 

(Quebec and Eastern United States, Haiti, Egypt and Cameroon)

By Micheline Larche, SP, and Thérèse Drainville, SP

Life circulates in the Province, it grows and spreads. In its way, the Communication Office helps unite the members of Émilie-Gamelin Province, as well it collaborates in opening the Community to its surrounding society.

The mandate given to the Communication Office on May 5, 2014 was to update our Province website, to feed the Héritage d’Émilie virtual community and to publish a provincial newsletter. In short, these mandate components aimed to boost the flow of information within the Province.  We wanted to make known the departments and the commitments of each sister, whether she works alone or in a group, in a remote area or close to major centers.

These requests led to an awakening of interest in the work of our companions. First upon invitation, then spontaneously later, several Sisters of Providence prepared articles describing their respective ministries; others described major steps in their life. Some have also shared a positive experience in their ministry. The positive comments generated by the articles touched the readers and inspired others to share.

Redesigning the Émilie-Gamelin Province’s web strategy enabled us to refresh and deepen our knowledge of the history and values of the Community. This motivated us to talk about Emilie, her devotion to Providence and Our Mother of Sorrows that are the foundation of our Congregation.

We have developed the Héritage d’Émilie virtual community, where we are not the only moderators. We also relay all news of the Church that is linked to the Mission of the Congregation. This said, the prayers to Emilie Gamelin are always the most popular posts.

Our presence was requested in public activities related to Emilie. These events put us in contact with Emilie’s friends, with those she loved. When we are invited to share on a more general topic, we take the opportunity to recall the core values of our Congregation, the same values that have supported the work of Emilie since its beginning.

We also answer communications sent by individuals requesting information or wishing to establish or re-establish contact with the Sisters of Providence. Information requests are various, ranging from demands for sign language training to offers of volunteering with the elderly. We distribute the queries depending on the acknowledged skills among our sisters.

We believe, like Pope Francis, that it is important to have a presence on social networks, especially Facebook and Twitter, on which sisters participate in posting.

In a nutshell, our ministry is to connect Emilie’s daughters among themselves and with the world, in order to highlight how the Sisters of Providence live and practice the values of humility, simplicity, charity, and compassion in our changing world.

Sister Elizabeth Kass in Edmonton, Canada

Ministry with the Deaf

by Sister Elizabeth Kass, SP

When I woke up deaf four and half months before my eleventh birthday, I had never seen a deaf person, nor did I know that there was such a thing as being deaf. I had actually thought that I was the only one and wondered what I would do. In September, when I was eleven years old, I began attending Ephpheta School, a Catholic School for the Deaf in Chicago (now closed). And it was there that I saw sign language for the first time and came to know that there are many deaf people like me. And now, during all of my fifty-six years in religious life, I’ve been working with the deaf in one way or another.

I’ve been in Edmonton thirty-three years now. Before that I taught an English class in the French School for Deaf Girls in Montreal. Later, I also assisted in a French classroom, then taught English as a second language to teenage girls, and later to deaf adults. I worked with mentally-challenged young deaf adults, visited English speaking deaf people in hospitals and their homes, and taught English sign language to interested hearing adults.

When I came to Edmonton, it was to do pastoral work with the deaf. I taught religion to the children, prepared them for the sacraments of First Communion, Confession, and Confirmation, and prepared adults for the Baptism of their babies. This work included home and hospital visits, assisting the deaf in any way possible, such as getting food and housing for those in need. There was a Bible study and a craft group where I taught crafts for our fundraisers at bazaars. I typed up the bulletins for Sundays as well as preparing the readings and prayers of the faithful, etc. For almost thirty years I picked up people for Mass every Sunday and took them home afterwards, no matter the weather. Now that I am eighty-three years old, no longer driving because of my eyesight, I only work part time.  Naturally I am no longer able to do everything that I once did. However, I continue to do as many things as I can and still visit people in hospitals, etc. when I have a ride.

Photo : Here I am with our deaf priest, Father Matthew Hysell

 

Sister Jessica Taylor in Seattle, United States

Accompanying Women in Transitional Home

by Sister Jessica Taylor, SP

I first came to Sojourner Place[1] as an intern through the counseling program at Seattle University. At that time Sojourner Place was still a ministry of the Sisters of Providence, so it was a logical environment in which to work on my certification hours. Though I knew a bit about Sojourner Place, I could never have imagined how much I would love getting to know the women, their stories, their lives. It energized me! So when Sojourner Place became a part of Jubilee Women’s Center in 2014, an opportunity presented itself to work full-time at the house as a counselor and care manager for its 11 residents. I had no doubt that this was the ministry for me—where God was calling me. I knew I was to work with these women. Others would ask me if I was sure. I took it to prayer, and every time God told me this is where I should be right now. So I took the job.

I continue to be grateful to call this my ministry. It feeds me every day. I get to extend the hands of God to these women—to be a support, cheerleader, advisor and mentor. I get to challenge them to make the changes they need to make in their lives. I also have the freedom to incorporate spirituality as part of the holistic approach addressing the complex challenges each woman faces—a freedom I may not enjoy in a secular environment.

I’ve found that one unexpected benefit of what I do is to demystify what it is to be a Sister. As I build relationships with the women at Sojourner Place, they learn that I am a regular person, not perfect, not “holier than thou”. They see that I can walk with them through their sorrows and joys, and love them as God loves them.

What a journey it is! It is so satisfying to celebrate their transitions as they move on to become independent and productive members of society, but so hard to say goodbye. It is truly a gift to accompany them along the way and to send them forth to a fulfilling future.

[1] The transitional home accommodates low-income, single women (including pregnant homeless women) while they rebuild their lives and move toward self-sufficiency.