The Beginnings of Providence Associates

Excerpts from a story of Roberta Sample, PA

Roberta Sample, PA

“They welcome our students and encourage them to pray with and minister to patients.  They care about the sick, elderly and needy.  No one is ever turned away.” – Description of Providence Portland Medical Center Roberta Sample received when deciding where to work.

In 1974, Sr. Louise Gleason, Provincial Superior, told me about the concept of Providence Associates, which had recently been approved by the General Administration in Montreal.

In 1975, I met Sr. Katherine Smith, Administrator of the Children’s Nursing Center at Providence Child Center next door to the hospital.  At the request of Fr. Morton Park of Catholic Charities, she was seeking supplies and nourishment for an unknown number of children of unknown ages who were being quickly evacuated from Saigon orphanages as the Communists were invading from the North.  Following that urgent experience, Sr. Katherine and I became better acquainted and ultimately, life-long friends.

In 1975 and 1976, after months of discussions, meetings, and our becoming better acquainted, Srs. Karin Dufault, Margarita Acosta and Katherine presented to the Provincial Council of Sacred Heart Province for their approval the beginning documents outlining a formal association between the Sisters of Providence and lay members.  This document covered the mission, charism and role of the Sisters of Providence; the role of Providence Associates and application process, orientation; and commitment statement. 

On December 6, 1976, in a small ceremony at Providence Child Center, I made my commitment as a Providence Associate.  Because I was in a leadership position at Providence Portland Medical Center and did not want my professional role and relationship confused with my relationship with the religious congregation, I preferred that my reception as a Providence Associate be small and private.

These past 46 years have been spent dedicated to the mission and charism of the Sisters of Providence as I have continued to be true to my Protestant faith, maturing as a believer in our Triune God; our Loving Father God; God as Providence in my life; Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit as my Guide and Teacher.