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Experience with the Sisters of Providence

By: Jenny Lam

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Experience with the Sisters of Providence
By: Jenny Lam

Have you ever wondered what the life of a religious sister is like?  

I was blessed to have attended the Come and See experience with the Sisters of Providence in July 2018. It was an unforgettable experience that helped shape my spiritual journey tremendously. Upon arriving at the Providence Centre, I was greeted by Sister Mae, the vocations director, who warmly invited me to feel at home during my stay.  

I went into the experience with an open heart and an open mind. It was by God’s Providence that led me there- originally, I was scheduled to work for the duration of the Come and See; however, by the grace of God, I was able to easily switch my shifts with another co-worker. As well, I was initially only accompanying a friend to the Providence Centre to help her feel more comfortable during her discernment process, but God quickly changed my perspective and allowed my heart to discern if I was called to religious life or marriage.

The week was filled with many beautiful experiences. There was a group of 9 young women that were part of the Come and See and we all became fast friends while we journeyed with each other. Every morning and evening, we would join the sisters in the Liturgy of Hours. We would also have all our meals together and had the opportunity to chat with the sisters who lived at the Providence Centre. All of the sisters were so welcoming and loving, always smiling and ready to share about their life stories.

Daily mass was always lovely, it was truly enjoyable to attend mass amongst the sisters in the peaceful chapel. After that, our program during the day consisted of various religious sisters sharing their experience in their vocation, exploring the charism of the Sisters of Providence, learning about their founder Blessed Mother Gamelin and discovering different types of prayer.  We were also given lots of prayer time to contemplate the Lord’s promptings that we had received throughout the week. One of the most deeply profound moments I experienced was during our day of silent retreat, where I heard the Lord’s voice for the first time, speaking to me about my discernment. While I was impatient to have my future vocation revealed, God spoke to me gently and patiently, saying “not now” to show me that He was drawing me closer in order to get to know Him more and that the will of God is to be revealed in the future.

We also had the chance during the week to serve in ministries that the Sisters of Providence were involved in. Some of the young women helped out at the food bank, while I had the privilege of serving at the Marian Centre soup kitchen for those who are less fortunate.  On one of our last evenings at the Providence Centre, our Come and See group put on a talent show to express our gratitude to the sisters for their hospitality and it was such a blessing to see the smiling faces of all the sisters as we celebrated our time together.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Sisters of Providence for the Come and See experience. I cherish the memories that were made and I am grateful for the knowledge that I gained. I made wonderful connections with the Sisters of Providence to last a lifetime!

If you are discerning the religious life, I encourage you to take a leap of faith to attend a Come and See! A piece of advice that I received from Sister Joan during my stay is this: “Whether you are called to single life, consecrated life or married life, getting to know God is of importance in order to be a woman of faith”. Looking back on my experience, it has helped strengthen my prayer life, bring me closer to God, and it has allowed the foundation to be built to help bring clarity in my vocational calling.

Thank you Lord for the blessed Come and See experience and thank you Sisters of Providence for hosting me!

Rezebeth Noceja,SP, Temporary Vow

First Profession of Vows

November 9th of 2019 has imprinted a significant mark in my life as it is the day that I made my first profession of vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as a Sister of Providence. The weeks of preparation leading to the day of my first profession were characteristic of roller coaster of emotions, from fear to courage, confusion to surety, highs to lows, and chaos to peace. The fear of not living up to the vows and of living a life that is somewhat counter-cultural would grip me from time to time, but then the gentle yet assuring presence of a loving community sets an example of fidelity to the “call” from which I can draw courage. The awareness of the imminent day of profession brought me to question myself over and over again as to whether I am truly following the vocation God had called me to. This caused a little bit of confusion sometimes. When I took my walks or sat in silence to take the time to listen to what my heart says…the heart where God planted His own desires for me, which in a way are also my own desires, I found surety in the vocation I am pursuing. The “yes, but…” that can be a NO, is actually a “yes, and in spite of…it is a YES”. The experience of having to think of the practical details, minute or significant, and having to face stumbling blocks and trying to find alternative solutions gave me the emotional highs and lows of the previous months. Fortunately, I was blessed to have a lot of people from within and outside the community who were so generous in giving their time and effort in making things go smoothly. All of these factors brought a sense of chaos somehow to the point where I felt like succumbing to the pressure of the preparation, but most especially to the fear of surrendering myself completely to the community, to God, and to his people. In the words of Father Stephen Hero, the celebrant on November 9th, in vows I am intentionally divesting myself of all that I have, body, mind, and soul. I am like a stone perched on top of other stones and immersed in the water, helpless. And yet the stone is immersed in “living water”. God is the living water. Again, Father Stephen said, when I place myself in Providence…chaste, poor and obedient, I am like that stone held by God. As helpless as the stone is, I am giving away all that I have in order to receive all that God is. In that receiving, I receive the peace that the world cannot give. Indeed, during my weeklong retreat prior to the vows, despite all the chaos, I was immensely at peace with my decision to continue and make my vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience… living a life entirely dependent on Providence.

Serena Hope Chappell, Candidate

Enterance To Candidacy

My journey began about three years ago, when I first opened myself to hear the call of God to Religious Life. Since embarking on discernment of Religious Life, I have experienced many emotions and many graces. I have grown in my faith and my ability to hear God in the silence of my heart.

I still find it hard to believe that it was only a year ago that I attended the Summer Live-In at Providence Centre in Edmonton. This was a grace filled time for me and I remember telling Sister Mae (Mary Grace Valdez) on the final day that I didn’t want to leave as I felt so at home. I finally felt a great sense of peace about my call to religious life. Following the live-in, I continued with an extended Come and See at Providence Residence in Calgary. This gave me the opportunity, support and time needed to truly discern whether God was calling me to join the Sisters of Providence.

On August 8th, 2018 in a beautiful, simple entrance celebration I became a candidate of the Sisters of Providence. Surrounded by the love and support of my new family, the Sisters, my parents, Doug and Candice, my sister, Kimberly, and her family I began a new phase of my journey. I am so grateful to our loving, provident God for all he has gifted me, for each person who prayed for me and helped make my day special and for this community. I look forward to the future and growing in my vocation with the Sisters of Providence.