Provincial Chapter/Community Days, July 31 to August 2, 2018
Provincial Chapter/Community Days began this year with reflection on an important topic for an international, intercultural, intergenerational and interdependent religious community. Participants had prepared by reading a thought-provoking article, “All one body: Forming intercultural communities,” written by Father Anthony J. Gittins, C.,S.Sp.
When they gathered on the Providence campus in Renton, Washington, Patricia “Patty” Repikoff led Sisters of Providence and Providence Associates present in an examination and exploration of where the religious community is in the quest to move From Invitation to Radical Welcome, as outlined in Stephanie Spellers’ book, “Invitation to Radical Welcome: Embracing God, the Other, and the Spirit of Transformation.”
“I count myself as a woman of Providence,” Patty told the group.
Patty grew up in Vancouver, Washington, and was educated by Providence sisters at St. Joseph School and Providence Academy. She is pastoral advocate for mission with Catholic Community Services of Western Washington.
She has been a lay ecclesial minister for 47 years and is an adjunct faculty member at Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry for the Doctorate of Ministry Program. She also leads retreats and is a spiritual director.
Patty led the group through a three-step process of grateful remembering of being called by God’s Providence, examining how God’s Providence is calling us to live God’s dream now, and identifying the next steps to take, individually and as a community, “to live and embody more fully God’s dream.”
Sister Joyce Green, whom Patty had asked to share with the group, said: “There is no failure; it’s just another outcome.”
A former chapter committee chairperson, she said it was something she was asked to do and she hesitantly accepted. “Somebody sees something in you; that’s how Providence works.”
Geri Ann Johnson, PA, another person asked to share, said: “Providence provides even if you don’t know you need it. God is pushing and sometimes dragging me.” As a Providence Associate, she continues to ask herself how to continue to serve on this journey with the Sisters of Providence, “to take the risks.”
Patty posed the question: “How is God inviting us into a revolution of compassion and change, to become revolutionaries of radical welcome to each other?”
She also asked the participants to consider how they are living the community’s 4 Is – international, intercultural, intergenerational and interdependent. Sister Marie-Thérèse Gnamazo, from Cameroon, likened the community to a fruit salad, with ingredients that retain their individuality but complement each other.
Sister Vilma Franco, from El Salvador, said Providence is transforming her life every day. “I come to offer my heart; who I am,” she said. “I am not by myself; the community is behind me.”
Sister Lucy Vasquez, of the Philippines, said God has invited her to live and embrace the radical welcome. “Faith is not theoretical, but lived” through interaction and community building, she explained.
The Day of Reflection was a meaningful beginning to the sisters’ annual “family reunion.” The remaining two days were spent taking care of community business and hearing from both the General Leadership Team and the Leadership Team of Mother Joseph Province, as well as the Co-Sponsor Council of Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH). They shared prayer, meals and celebrations, including a special liturgy and banquet for the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of Providence. Here are a few of the highlights from the 19th Provincial Chapter, facilitated by Sister Peggy Kennedy, SNJM:
- “This is not an ordinary time,” General Superior Karin Dufault, SP, told the group. It has been a time of unexpected change, including the illness and death of General Secretary Linda Jo Reynolds, SP. Sister Kathryn “Kitsy” Rutan arrived in Montreal to help out until Sister Annette Noel was chosen to take the role of general secretary. “We will be a new team starting in September with reflection and planning days,” Sister Karin said. One of their immediate challenges is that the General Leadership Team members do not share a common language.
- It was announced that the liturgy to end the year of celebration of the 175th anniversary of the congregation’s founding will be March 29, 2019, at the motherhouse in Montreal.
- Provincial Superior Judith Desmarais gave an update on the covenant process with the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Tacoma and said Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain will celebrate a liturgy for both congregations at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, October 21, in the Mount St. Vincent chapel, followed by a social.
- Sister Margarita Hernandez, new MJP vocation director as of July 1, said she is not doing this ministry alone. A vocation promotion team has been formed with sisters in Seattle, Yakima, Spokane, Portland, Burbank, El Salvador, the Philippines and Orlando.
- Members of the PSJH Co-Sponsors Council, who joined the meeting in person or by telephone, shared about their required biannual meeting at the Vatican with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. They also praised the new PSJH mission statement that was “built from the ground up, not the top down.”