For someone who obviously cherishes being with people, the onset of pandemic restrictions turned Sr. Barbara Schamber’s most recent term as Provincial Leader into something completely unprecedented.
Sr. Barbara still recalls hearing the news of business closures and pulling to the side of the road to call the new Leadership Team to figure out how to proceed. Instead of travelling to the various SP ministries as the team intended, they remained ensconced at the Provincial Administration offices. And, like so many other people in March 2020, Sister quickly learned how to participate in a video call.
Now that the pandemic restrictions are ending, Sr. Barbara is on the road again. For her, one of the things she is most thankful about her years of ministry is the people:
“It’s been a privilege serving in the Leadership Team,” said Sr. Barbara. “The Provincial Council has been a gift to me because I have been able to visit with each of the Sisters. We pray, we laugh and, sometimes, we cry.”
One of five women with the name “Rose” in her novitiate class, Sr. Barbara is thankful for the call from God to carry on the mission of Blessed Emilie Gamelin. And like the founder of the Sisters of Providence, Sr. Barbara has been called to innovate as the times have change.
She was encouraging about the formation of the sponsorship model for Providence Ministry in 2010 and, as one of the first sponsors, dedicated herself in the following years to being in ministry with laity and religious to bring the new approach to life. She and the other sponsors wanted to be with the caregivers and spent much of the early years visiting ministries. They essentially defined the role of sponsors for the ministry.
Sr. Barbara has served often in leadership. She was principal of St. Elisabeth School in Van Nuys, Calif., Provincial Superior twice (1980s and 2000s) and central to the formation of the new Mother Joseph Province at the turn of the millennium.
For someone so involved in leadership, however, her favorite ministry was teaching first graders.
“Children that age are just so excited to learn,” she says with obvious joy and delight.
Reflecting on the role of Providence in her life, Sr. Barbara points to the care and support she has received from parents, grandparents, siblings and the SP community.
“We all experience Providence in different ways,” she says, “but as people of faith we can see every day how God is present in our lives and our response is one of gratitude to God.”
Read more about Sr. Barbara’s life in the Congregation at the 50 year Jubilee story – 50 Years: Barbara Schamber, SP – Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph Province