Sisters of Providence share journey

Faithful and Sisters share spiritual journey

By Lori O'Brien

Correspondent



HOLYOKE For individuals interested in being a part of a more just world community, the Sisters of Providence Associates might be a perfect calling.

Begun in 1980, the association has welcomed dozens of area residents over the years into its fold who have identified with the Sisters of Providence mission of living the Gospel call to service with undaunted hope, trusting always in God's unfailing Providence.

"This association is unique because it offers non-vowed people, both women and men, who resonate with the charism, mission and ministry of this religious Community, opportunities to grow spiritually," said Patricia St. Amand, a co-director of the Sisters of Providence Associates. She shares responsibilities with Sister Mary Horgan, S.P. Both St. Amand and Sister Horgan are also charged with keeping Sisters of Providence President Sister Joan Mullen and her Council members informed of ongoing plans and activities.

St. Amand explained during an interview at Providence Place on Gamelin Street with Reminder Publications that the association offers associates "the prayerful support and concern of the Sisters and is mutually beneficial to the Sisters who are on the receiving end of the associates' prayerful support and concern. It also provides both Sisters and associates with a wider circle of friends who hold Gospel values as the compelling force in their lives and live their lives accordingly."

Currently, there are more than 50 active members with seven new candidates being welcomed into the association this fall. Each candidate participates in a one-year orientation that includes learning the history, spirituality, vision and mission of the Sisters of Providence. Men and women range in age from their 30's to their 90's, according to St. Amand.

Associates are welcome at Community events and activities that range from educational days and holiday functions to the Jubilee celebrations. Associates are also welcome to collaborate in the Sisters' mission through involvement in Community activities and in the extension of their spirit in ministry, added St. Amand.

This past year, for the first time, each of the seven current candidates was paired with a mentor either a Sisters of Providence or an associate. Both co-directors also served as mentors as did three other Sisters of Providence.

"Whenever possible, we encourage associates to take advantage of educational days, prayer services and all Community events," said St. Amand.

Two local residents who have been members for several years recently shared their enthusiasm for the association during a visit to Providence Place.

Ann LeBlanc of Holyoke worked at the Beaven Kelly Home in Holyoke, run by the Sisters of Providence, for more than 22 years before her retirement, so her deep insight into the Sisters' mission was already evident before she considered joining the association.

"I like people and especially enjoy working with the elderly," said LeBlanc, adding since she can't be idle for too long, her natural instinct was to return to Beaven Kelly to help make a difference in someone's life. She also expects to spend more time at Mount St. Vincent Nursing Home in Holyoke, also run by the Sisters of Providence.

"It motivates me to get up," she said, adding "I get more than I give it's very rewarding."

LeBlanc also noted that the Sisters acknowledge the help of the associates at every opportunity.

"They appreciate what we do," said LeBlanc.

For Dan Therrien of Chicopee, a shift supervisor at Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company in Ludlow, religion has always played a major role in his life since his aunt, Sister Marie Daniel, S.P., was an active member of the Community until her passing. Therrien explained that he enjoyed attending Mass with his aunt on a regular basis at the Motherhouse and befriended many of the Sisters throughout the years and they especially appreciated his expertise with computers.

Over the years Therrien has spent countless hours participating in activities and programs at Brightside for Families and Children in West Springfield that focused on spiritual direction, and also helped at functions run by Providence Ministries for the Needy in Holyoke.

Therrien said the most important aspect of the association for him is the spirituality component received through reflections, masses and meetings. He also serves as an Eucharistic minister at St. Rose de Lima Church.

"You receive love and respect from the Sisters," he added.

Both LeBlanc and Therrien encouraged faith-filled individuals interested in seeking a unique spiritual journey to consider joining the Sisters of Providence Associates.

For more information on association membership, contact St. Amand at (413) 536-7511, ext. 558, or pstamand@sisofprov.org.

An independent diocesan Community since 1892, the Sisters of Providence ministries include the institutions and programs sponsored through the Sisters of Providence Health System, Genesis Spiritual Life Center, Providence Ministries for the Needy and Providence Place.

 
 
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