It is with gratitude and joy that we, the sisters in initial formation from Holy Angels and Mother Joseph provinces, want to share our reflections and experiences during our recent Bi-Provincial Formation In-service.
We stayed at the Northlake house, where we greatly enjoyed the beauty of nature around us. We shared much laughter and fun swimming and boating. It was a gift to spend this time getting to know one another and to receive the hospitality of the sisters of Mother Joseph province. We want to express our appreciation to the sisters who joined us and were present with us during our various activities. Your presence truly enriched our experiences.
Our educational tour gave us the opportunity to experience the history of the sisters in Western United States. Going to the physical locations where Mother Joseph lived and served brought alive the spirit of the history which we had only read about. It was powerful and heartfelt as we felt the presence of the departed sisters where they lived and were present to the people. The little details given during our tour allowed us to enter into the experience in a very real way. During our visit to Providence Academy we were blessed to hear many stories from our guide who was an alumni of the final graduating class.
Seeing Mother Joseph’s statue in the Legislative Building and the recognition of her work around the Pacific Northwest was inspiring. Learning that when the Pope came to visit, her statue in the National Statuary Hall was moved to show recognition and honor for the work she did with the people, the poor was touching. We were inspired to continue her legacy. A greater realization came to us, that Mother Joseph and her companions, our fellow sisters, did not participate or anticipate a history, rather they became the history. They are legends!
Upon arrival at the cemetery, we were challenged to find Mother Joseph’s grave stone. The simplicity in which we found her final resting place was moving. The impact she had in this place, the figure she was in the state’s history (showcased by her bronze statue) is remarkable. Yet, her grave was the same as all the other sisters. The simplicity was strikingly beautiful.
As a group we experienced a beautiful open, generous spirit amongst ourselves. We took time to talk and share stories in order to get to know each other. During our conference day, we were invited to grow in love as Providence women. We listened and reflected on the beauty and challenges of community life. Insights were gained about the importance of seeing each person as a gift within the community in sharing this mission we live.
The differences amongst us are very pronounced, yet we can reconcile these to enjoy each other’s company and to remain in trust and sacred communion with each other. This was evident in the profound sharing during our evening prayer. We are hopeful that we can bring this same spirit of communion back with us into our individual communities.
This was a time of growth for each of us in our own Providence journeys. It was filled with laughter, learning, love, fun and tears. We will remember our experiences during these days. We saw the continuation of the manifestation of the mission of the sisters past being carried on in the present and we look to the future, to the sisters who will come after. We end our time together full of hope, energy and faith. We give thanks to our Provident God for the blessing of our In-service days together!
Written by Serena Chappell in collaboration with Sisters Rezebeth Noceja, Marie-Therese Gnamazo, Marita Capili, Maria Fernanada Apablaza, Mary Phillips, Phuong Ha Nguyen, and Thuy Nguyen