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Sr. Sylvia Troncoso

Some sisters may find cooking a chore to be avoided, but it's a form of relaxation for Sister Silvia Troncoso, a member of Bernarda Marin Province, who ministers in parish religious education and evangelization at St. Joseph Parish and at St. Peter Claver Parish, in Wapato, Wash.

Sister Silvia also enjoys singing, performing traditional Chilean dances (she was born in Cornel, Chile), knitting and art. She has a rich history of serving the Hispanic community and reflects on her years as a Sister of Providence.

When did you enter Sisters of Providence?

I studied with the Sisters of Providence at a school called Santa Rose in Chile. I always knew I had a vocation to become a sister. God was calling me to enter, so I joined the Sisters of Providence when I was only 17 years old.

What did you do once you entered?

After my three years of formation I worked in Temuco, which is a city in the south of Chile. I was responsible for taking care of 76 boys. I taught them and cared for them. I even had to live in a dormitory. I was like a mother to them, because many of them didn't have a mother. Imagine what it was like being a young 20-year-old sister with 23 children! It was a lot, but I enjoyed the experience and I loved them very much. Later, I was sent to the Central Zone, where I got my teaching degree.

What did you do after you got your degree?

I taught at one of our schools and became the principal. I taught for about 40 years, but I wanted to get some experience doing parish work, so I left teaching for a year. I returned, but soon after I was sent to do parochial work for four years. Once I finished, I was sent back to the school, where I was in charge of the high school and junior high school. Soon after I was asked to come to the United States.

What kind of work do you do in Yakima?

I love my work very much because I help with evangelism and catechism. I help out children who are going to make their confirmation, and I also direct Bible studies for youth and adults. I'm also asked to give workshops. Some of the other things I do are teach young women how to sew or cook, and I teach people how to read and write.

What have you enjoyed about being a Sister of Providence?

I enjoy seeing the change that comes about when the adults and young people start dedicating their time to the church. That gives me a lot of joy. When I look at the stories of our foundresses, sometimes I see myself doing things very similar to what they did.

Do you mostly minister to the Hispanic community?

I work specifically with the Hispanics of Yakima, but I do have contact with the Anglo community.

What other things do you like to do?

I love working in the garden and planting flowers. I love to cook and to bake cookies. I used to love sewing, but now I don't really like it that much. I love helping people

What do you like about your community?

Three of us live together and we're all from different cultures. It's been very interesting because you have to know certain things to adapt to those cultures and see what each person likes. At first, I didn't notice little details, but now I do. I know what each one likes, but it wasn't easy. We're doing our best to understand each other.

What hopes do you have for the Yakima community?

Something that has given me great satisfaction is to share with the Hispanic community the history of the Sisters of Providence. On the 200th birthday celebration of Mother Gamelin, the Hispanic community made up 70 percent of the people present.

How did the people respond to the celebration?

Very well. They all sang the Providence hymns and enjoyed them very much. Now they ask me for the prayer cards I have of Mother Gamelin.

Do the young women you work with have an interest in religious life?

Yes, there is an interest. The first thing I do is teach them about the Sisters of Providence. I tell them about our life, our charism and mission. They're interested in learning more about us. We often get together for dinner and reflection.

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On the 200th birthday celebration of Mother Gamelin, the Hispanic community made up 70 percent of the people present.

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