Sister Maribeth Carson is Sister Representative on the Community Ministry Board of Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington. She is passionate about both teaching and history. One is her career, the other her avocation.
Born in Wenatchee and raised in Seattle, she obtained her education at Seattle University and spent 25 years teaching in the Seattle Public School System before applying for entrance into the Sisters of Providence. She became a candidate in August 1991.
To satisfy her passion for history, Sister Maribeth has served on the boards of directors for the St. Paul Mission Historical Society and the Oregon Catholic Historical Society.
She now lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is Director/Coordinator Right of Christian Initiation of Adults.
How did you get interested in the Sisters of Providence?
I was an oblate of St. Benedict for more than 25 years, and was perfectly happy with what I was doing. I was a teacher in the Seattle Public School system and living a single life. There was a Sister of Providence, Sister Louise Gleason, at St. Mark’s Church where I was a parishioner. One day she stopped me and asked if I would ever be interested in religious life. I then asked, “What’s so different between what you do and what I do?” This is a very important question. So we had a long conversation about it. Basically, it’s community that I did not have. I had network but not the context of community
Did you have a long discernment process?
I probably had a long discernment process before the question was ever asked.
What was it about the Sisters of Providence you liked?
It’s like two people who are getting married — there is a fit. I think it’s the same when people are looking at religious communities. I have always worked with people who were disadvantaged or with kids who were unable to learn. It all fit more with the Sisters of Providence spirituality than with the Benedictines, with whom I had enjoyed a long relationship.
What have you enjoyed about Sisters of Providence?
One of the things I have appreciated far beyond anything is the gift of community. If I’m in a situation at work, I know I can come home and share or get input. I don’t think you have that necessarily as a single person. The gift of community is the greatest. It’s also the greatest challenge.
What does it mean to be a Sister of Providence?
I’m a witness of Christ to others in the context of a vowed life. For love and chastity, I have to include everyone. For poverty, I have to be totally empty. For obedience, I have to listen to those who are around me, listen to the community, and listen to those to whom and with whom I minister.
What advice would you give a young woman who hopes to enter a community?
One thing is to be open and listen to not only what?s around you, but what?s inside, as well. You have to listen to your feelings and to look at who you are in your history. There is a passage in Deuteronomy that says, “I set before you life or death … choose life.”
I think even though things might get tough, as long as what’s going on is life-giving, then it’s a definite plus. If it energizes you, then it’s a plus. You need to be alert to those things.
What do you like about the Portland community?
We’re known for hospitality, so there are a lot of people coming in and out.