Providence Sister Jessica Taylor professes perpetual vows in Seattle on June 30, 2012

June 9, 2012

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Sister Jessica Taylor made profession of perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as a Sister of Providence in a liturgy at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 30, in Seattle.

Sister Taylor, born in Seattle, is the daughter of Glenn and JoAnn Taylor of Burien, Wash. She graduated from Highline High School in Burien in 1990, and then received bachelor’s degrees in psychology and special education at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash. She has worked as a special education teacher at Sylvester Middle School and at Highline High School, both in Burien. As a candidate to the Sisters of Providence, she served in ministry as a sign language teacher at La Salle High School in Yakima, Wash. As a novice, she has been a volunteer at the Women’s Drop In Center (now the Women’s Hearth) in Spokane and spent a year in the Philippines in ministry and returned to teaching at Sylvester Middle School for five years.

Sister Taylor is one of 145 women who are vowed members of the Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph Province, which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, California and El Salvador. The province is international, intergenerational and intercultural and includes one candidate, four novices, and four sisters in temporary vows, including two from Bernard Morin Province in Chile who are continuing their formation and discernment in this province.

Sister Taylor, who first truly thought about religious life at the age of 18, made first profession in August 2003 at the Provincial Chapter held in Spokane. She remembers packing her things, giving her car away and quitting her job. “It was a leap of faith,” she recalls. “It has been one step at a time, a gradual yes, but always a yes.”

She views this perpetual vow ceremony, with its theme of “Here I am, Lord; I come to do Your will,” as coming full circle. General Superior Kathryn (Kitsy) Rutan, who will come from the Providence International Centre in Montreal to accept her perpetual vows, was Sister Taylor’s vocation director. Father Thomas Belleque, who was her pastor at her entrance into the religious community, will preside at this liturgy, as well.

“There is more to it than just me, so much meaning,” Sister Taylor explains. “The Holy Spirit is guiding it. All the people who were part of my beginning are part of my final intentions.”

“This is the last step to becoming a full-fledged sister. What changes is everything and nothing.”

Sister Taylor likened this step to getting married, “making a life commitment. There are no fears and no anxiety because it has been so long that I have worked through all the issues. I am where I am called to be and where I want to be,” she said. “Whatever religious life holds for me, I am in it for the long haul.”

She sees two tracks for her chosen ministry. The first is direct service to the poor as a licensed mental health practitioner. The day before professing perpetual vows she will have completed a two-week intensive pastoral counseling course at Seattle University.

She has two more years left in a master’s degree program and then will complete an assistanceship to receive her license. The second ministry track is leadership within the Sisters of Providence congregation. “I have those skills,” she said. “I am a good leader and a person to listen and get things done.”

But first comes the period after perpetual profession, when she will squeeze in a little time with family and friends before leaving for the three-week General Chapter in Montreal. This will be her third time at that gathering of Sisters of Providence from around the world. She first attended as a novice, getting to know other young sisters in the congregation. She returned as an observer and now this time she will be a participant observer. That, too, is progress for her and the religious community, she said.