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Are you hearing
God's call?

Pentecost, Empowered by the Spirit

June 2006

OPENING SONG: Come Holy Ghost, by Louis Lambillotte, SJ, or Veni Sancti Spiritus Taize Chant

READER 1: A reading from Acts:
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they all met in one room. Suddenly they heard what sounded like a violent, rushing wind from heaven; the noise filled the entire house in which they were sitting. Something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each one. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as she enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4)

REFLECT/SHARE: When have you experienced having the words to help someone when you were at a loss to know how to help them?

READER 2: A reading from the prophet Joel:
I will pour out my Spirit on all humankind. Your daughters and sons will prophesy, your young people will see visions, and your elders will dream dreams. Even on the most insignificant of my people, both women and men, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
(Joel 3:1-2)

REFLECT/SHARE: What is one vision/dream you have for the future?

LEADER: Throughout the history of the Sisters of Providence the Holy Spirit has enabled the sisters to "see visions and dream dreams." Blessed Emilie Gamelin responded to the Holy Spirit as she risked sending sisters to the West at the request of Bishop Augustine Magloire Alexander Blanchet of Nisqually. Mother Joseph always turned to the Holy Spirit in prayer as she planned and directed the building of various institutions that would enable physicians, nurses, teachers, volunteers and others to care for the sick, the elderly, the orphaned, and the uneducated.

READER 3: In 1891, a letter from Mother Mary Godfrey, Superior General, carried the surprising news that as of March 29th of that year, new governance structures would be in effect, among them the erection of separate provinces throughout the religious community. It had taken the religious community forty-eight years of growth and expansion of the mission to bring it to this point in time. Mother Joseph again turned to the Holy Spirit for strength to carry out this mandate. The division would be hard for many of the sisters, she thought, since they saw Vancouver as a "second Mother House." Sisters had strengthened familial bonds, and together had crossed back and forth into Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. This decision of the Mothers in Montreal was for the best, agreed Mother Joseph. The growth in the number of sisters and the greater breadth of ministerial involvement would be supported by such a structure. The annalist in 1891 reflected the thoughts of many: "From then on our hearts began aching ... ." The three provinces in the West would be Sacred Heart Province based at Vancouver, Washington, St. Vincent de Paul Province based at Portland, Oregon and St. Ignatius Province based at Missoula, Montana.
[Adapted from He Has Given Me a Flame by Mary Gleason, SP]

REFLECT/SHARE: When have you been asked to do something that was very difficult for you?

LEADER: Many structural changes have taken place since 1891. New provinces have been established, some provinces have been eliminated, and some missions have been changed from one province to another. These changes have been difficult for some and others have welcomed them with excitement. Always the changes have been made to enable the mission of the Sisters of Providence to be more effective.

In the summer of 1999 the sisters of Sacred Heart Province and St. Ignatius Province gathered together to officially recognize and celebrate their union in the birth of a new Province. Many of us experienced a kind of "Pentecost" as we gathered in one room, aware that the Spirit of God was descending upon us in this "hour" of new birth. We had been attentive in prayer and "holy listening" to the Holy Spirit in one another. As final decisions were made St. Ignatius Province and Sacred Heart Province became one, under a new name and patronage, Mother Joseph Province.

This province re-structuring would affect not only the sisters but also the Providence Associates, the staffs from the two former Provincial offices, the two Health systems and others. For some this was painful; for others it was welcomed with great joy. Today, as we continue to celebrate the 150 years of our presence in the West, we know that there will inevitably be more changes ahead. We place our trust in the presence of the Spirit in each of us, to enable us to make those changes as gracefully as did our sisters and their collaborators in the past.

RITUAL: Drawing a gift of the Holy Spirit

LEADER: In keeping with a long tradition of the Sisters of Providence, each person is invited to choose a Pentecost symbol with one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit written on it. Become aware of how this gift is active in your life.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Fortitude, Counsel, Piety, Knowledge, Fear of the Lord, and Understanding.

Spirit of God, bless me with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you will live deep in my heart.

Spirit of God, bless me with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people and the earth, so that I will be encouraged to work for justice, peace and equity.

Spirit of God, bless me with tears to shed for those who suffer so that I will reach out my hand to comfort them and change their pain into joy.

Spirit of God, bless me with the foolishness to think that I can make a difference in the world, so that I will do things which others say cannot be done. AMEN.
[Adapted from prayer by Richard Rohr, OFM]

CLOSING SONG: Holy Spirit by Marianne Misetich, SNJM, or Spirit of the Living God, by Daniel Iverson or Spirit of God, by Miriam Therese Winter, MMS

1) Have copies available for participants:
  • Prayer service
  • Music
2) Prepare a focus table that will include symbols for the ritual.
  • The symbols might be paper cut outs in a shape depicting the Holy Spirit; e.g. a dove or flame.
  • Have enough for each person to pick one.
  • Write one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit on one side of each symbol.
  • Place the symbols on the focus table, written side down

GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: Wisdom, Fortitude, Counsel, Piety, Knowledge, Fear of the Lord, and Understanding.