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Are you hearing
God's call?

Risk Takers Now:
We, a Community of Providence People in the West,
Risk into the Future!

December 8, 2006

150th Anniversary of Sisters of Providence Coming West

OPENING SONG: Sing a New Songby Dan Schutt
Maryís Song (Magnificat), by Millie Rieth

WELCOME: 150 years ago today the Sisters of Providence arrived in the West. When the first mission band was sent forth from Montreal, Bishop Ignace Bourget gave the following admonitions: first, the most important thing "to pack in your suitcases" is trust in Divine Providence; second, you must preserve the charity that lives among you; and finally, remember those at home who will support you by their prayer and action. On December 8, 1856, feast of the Immaculate Conception, a small group of five Sisters of Providence led by Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart arrived at Fort Vancouver in the Oregon Territory. These women of Providence incarnated through their lives and ministries Godís Provident love, care and concern in the world. Even in the face of "not having enough" they dared to be risk takers letting the Spirit move them to give from the little they had for the good of others. Today we also celebrate how the Spirit continues to move people of Providence - sisters, associates, friends, family members, co-workers and collaborators - to be risk takers now, giving what we have received from our Provident God for the good of others and for all creation. In particular, we will hear the stories of how in recent times the Sisters of Providence are reaching out to serve in new missions in the Philippines and El Salvador.

Let us pray: Provident God, on this feast of Maryís conception we remember that you prepared the Virgin Mary to be the worthy mother of your son. In her day you would ask Mary to risk beyond her security by placing her trust in you. In the 19th Century, you prepared the Sisters of Providence to bring your works to the Pacific Northwest, a missionary land. In our day you continue to invite us to risk beyond our securities putting our whole trust in you, our Providence. Gift us, and all those whom you continue to call, with courage and generous hearts, as we journey into the future full of hope.


READING 1: Risk takers now - the Sisters of Providence called to serve in the Philippines in 1989 and a young Philippine woman reflects on her own call.
The Providence Community in the West had received repeated requests to establish a mission in the Philippines so that women there might join with the sisters caring for the many people in need in their own country. At a time of diminishing numbers of sisters and a greater number of elderly sisters, the Community risked and said "Yes" to establishing a mission in the Philippines.

Five Sisters of Providence were called through a discernment process. On October 14, 1989, Sisters Fidela Adriano, Lina Afinidad, Clarella Fink, Linda Jo Reynolds and Renate Hayum arrived in the Philippines to begin this foundation. For two of these sisters, this was a returning to the land of their birth which they had left to enter the Providence Community almost thirty years before. As the sisters worked in basic ecclesial communities, they were touched by the poor who were becoming more aware of the work of God in their midst. This awareness generated a great sense of gratitude. The sisters and the poor were mutually touched by God and the quality of their lives was transformed. Thus with Godís help, a foundation of Providence took solid root in the Philippine soil.

Recently a young Philippine woman participated in a "Come and See" experience with Sisters of Providence in Battaan. She shared: I have been reflecting on the call of the prophet Jeremiah and my lifeís journey. In Jeremiah I read:
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Then I said, "Ah, Lord God! I know not how to speak; I am too young." Jeremiah 1:4-6

Jeremiah must have feared the responsibility of being a prophet of Godís word because of his youth. I feel the same. Three months ago, I am at the extreme of my fear. My spirit felt the vocation to serve Him and His people. But the fear that I am incapable of doing so restricts me. Just as Jeremiah, despite his youth, followed Godís plan for him, I will do the same whatever the cost may be. The temptation of feeling unworthy is now settling little by little. He sent me people that helped a lot in my discernment, including a community of the Sisters of Providence. By participating in their prayers, taking a little part in their ministries, and through casual conversations with them, I have gotten to know myself better. More importantly, I get to know better a special friend named Jesus, how He is always there to listen, to forgive, and bestow bountiful blessings on me. Serenity of spirit that I have been constantly longing for now rests in me. Though some worries still bother me, I am assured that He would never let me down, because He has touched my heart, three months ago, the same way that He touched Jeremiah.

READING 2: Risk takers continue to reach out - the Sisters of Providence were called to serve in El Salvador in 1995, and our Provident God builds communities of loving service.

The people of El Salvador began a process of rebuilding in 1992 following 12 years of civil war. In 1995, the Sisters of Providence received an invitation from the people and pastoral team with the bishop of a rural area in El Salvador. They were to work with Christian Base Communities (CEBs) in the village of La Papalota and surrounding areas. Their home would be built by members of a local cooperative. The International Community of Sisters of Providence entered into prayer and discernment. Five sisters were chosen to make up the initial mission team. They were Sisters Isabel Cid of Canada (originally from Argentina), Ema Maureira of Chile, Frances Stacey, Kathryn Rutan, and Marilyn Charette of the U.S.A.

The five sisters departed for their new mission on January 25, 1995, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The mission initially was part of Sacred Heart Province and in 2000 became part of the newly formed Mother Joseph Province. Sister Isabel, who had spent time with Salvadorans, reminded the mission team that: ďWe will learn much by listening to the poor and their viewpoint will be helpful as we reflect on our lives and make decisions.Ē She shared that it would be important for them to simply be with the people, allowing them to take the lead and to listen carefully to their stories.

During the 10th anniversary celebration of the mission, Cruz Castillo of La Papalota commented on the effect the presence of these sisters has had on herself and her family. The sisters were there for her during times of family crisis, listening and supporting. This increased her faith and courage. As a member of the Christian Base Community, she could not read the Bible until the sisters began literacy classes. Her children would have had little chance of education, but with the scholarship program, one daughter is ready to graduate as a psychologist, one son is studying medicine in Cuba and another daughter is employed by the CEB Emergency Fund for Health Care in which Cruz has been active with the sisters from the beginning.

August 12-15, 2004, Vilma Franco and Margarita Hernandez, two young women from El Salvador, joined with the Sisters of Providence of Mother Joseph Province during their annual Community Days in Spokane, Washington. They had come to know several of the Sisters of Providence living and serving in El Salvador because of being active in ministry. Vilma and Margarita each responded positively to an invitation to consider religious life. They participated in a "Come and See" experience in La Papalota and then a pre-candidate program in San Salvador. Vilma Franco entered the Sisters of Providence as a novice on August 15, 2004. Several months later Margarita Hernandez also entered the Sisters of Providence as a novice.

May the words of the Sisters of Providence Constitutions be in all our hearts as the Spirit continues to move us to risk beyond our securities for love of others:
The motto of the Congregation, "The love of Christ urges us," draws us toward the poor. We go to them with an openness that allows us to be evangelized by them while we share the Good News. Our apostolic life binds us to each other and to all the people of God, especially the poor. Responsive to the Spirit, we are always in search of better ways to incarnate the Providence of God in our lives. Constitutions 9 and 10.

GOSPEL: Luke 1: 39-45 The Visitation

REFLECT/SHARE: Ponder one or more of the following questions, then at the sound of a bell share with one or two others.
  • What caught my attention and moved me in these readings?
  • Is the Spirit drawing me to reach out? To whom?
  • How might I better understand my own life journey in light of Maryís life? the life of Providence People who have gone before?

PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL: Response: sing, ”yenos, SeŮor
or say: Provident God hear our prayer.

LEADER: May we as People of Providence proclaim our renewed commitment to the call of the Gospel with the message that you, our Provident God, cherish and sustain the whole universe, and that your Providence energizes us in the pursuit of a more just and compassionate earth community. Let us pray.

Creator God, bless the Providence Sisters and People serving in the Philippines and El Salvador; gift them with vitality for the ministries to which you called them, we pray, (response)

Merciful God, you hear the cry of the poor in many lands; imprint on our minds and hearts the importance of serving as advocates for the poor, especially for those who are deprived of basic human rights, we pray, (response)

Jesus, you sent your apostles to preach the Good News to the whole world; give us the grace to look beyond the geographical borders of our ministries and maintain sensitivity to the needs of people everywhere, we pray, (response)

Jesus, you made yourself available to everyone in need; show us the way to mirror your care and to respond to unmet needs wherever you invite us to serve, we pray, (response)

Holy Spirit, you pray in us, asking for what we hardly know we need; in times of uncertainty, gift us with trust in Divine Providence so that we might risk serving wherever you call us, we pray, (response)

Let us pray, O God, we believe that your Providence is always with us and calling us to risk beyond our security. Keep us searching for and responding to those who are in need and to those who our society often moves to the sidelines. We ask this in Jesusí name. Amen.

COMMUNION SONG: Song of the Body of Christ - No Ke Anoí Ahií Ahi; Text by David Haas
If a second song is needed: Maryís Song or The Summons


Mary believed that with Godís help, nothing is impossible;
R: Provident God, strengthen our belief in you.

Mary refused to submit to despair and frustration, or to resign herself to any limitation to Godís work on earth;
R: Provident God, deepen our hope in you.

Mary persevered through the cross into the resurrection with her Son.
R: Provident God, fill our hearts with love of you.

May our Provident God bless us in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. R: Provident God, we thank you for all. Amen.

CLOSING SONG: Hymn to Divine Providence
(possibly sing in French, English and Spanish)

(to be handed out as people leave this celebration)

A Benediction (adapted from the Benediction given by Cardinal Timothy Manning on May 1, 1980, honoring Mother Joseph at Statuary Hall, D.C.)

Provident God,
you are pleased to place in our hearts
volcanic energies of love;
love of your Divine Mercy
overflowing into a love for all those over whom
you have a special Providence,
the poor and the marginalized,
the widow, the orphan, the sick, the little ones
and those whose basic needs are unmet.

Creator God,
you are pleased to give us skills of mind and heart;
and all we need to serve the needs of your people,
while respecting all creatures and material goods of your universe.
Compassionate God,
throughout history you have drawn valiant women and men
to the side and service of your Son:
Mary, Our Compassionate Mother and
Joseph, her spouse and a teacher of Jesus,
Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart, her companions,
and sisters, co-laborers, donors, friends, and families.
Ever-living God,
in memory of the many heroines and heroes, great and small,
who incarnated in our world your Providence and Compassion in years past, grant that we who gather here this day may be renewed in our commitment to proclaim that you, our Provident God, cherish and sustain the universe. Imbue us with your love to serve the needs of your people that we may build a more just and compassionate earth community in our time and place.

Providence of God we believe in you. Providence of God we hope in you.
Providence of God we love you with all our hearts.
Providence of God we thank you for all.


This prayer service may be used as the liturgy for December 8th or adapted for use as a prayer service sometime in the month of December 2006.

1) Have copies available for participants:
  • Liturgy/prayer service
  • Music
  • Prayer Card to hand out at the end of Mass or prayer service. If possible, copy this prayer on stiff paper (24 #).
2) Presider/Leader or delegate will:
  • read the Welcome at the beginning
  • invite participants into the Reflect/Share period following Gospel at the end of the celebration, invite participants to unite in asking the Holy Spirit to build up the family of Providence Risk Takers now and in the future.
  • let everyone know that they will be given a Prayer Card as they leave the celebration.
3) Ask individuals as needed to be:
  • Readers 1 and 2
  • Reader for Prayers of the Faithful
  • Ushers to hand out: liturgy program and music at the beginning; and prayer cards to people at the close of the celebration