My Providence path

Earlier this year, Providence Associate Jan Kehoe retired from the chaplaincy team at St. Joseph’s Auxiliary Hospital, which had been founded by the Sisters of Providence. She used that opportunity to look back at her long association with the Congregation.

The Sisters of Providence held a role in my life and a place in my heart since first moving to Camrose, Alberta from Manitoba in 1981. In 2000, Sister Bernadine Bokenfohr invited me to learn about the charism, spirituality and mission of the Sisters of Providence and to become an Associate. View full article »

by Veronica Stienburg

There are no known photographs of Sr. Mary Angelica. Another home child to enter the Congregation was Sr. Mary Benita (Matilda Marsh), picture here.

Lillian Blanchfield, her two sisters and her two brothers were “rescued” from the Shaw Street Workhouse in Liverpool, England by the Catholic Children’s Protection Society of Liverpool. They crossed the Atlantic in 11 days aboard the Parisian steamship in the company of Mrs. Lacey and 60 other home children.

On June 11, 1889, Mrs. Lacey delivered the children to the House of Providence in Kingston. Lillian stayed at the House of Providence for 17 days before leaving her siblings behind when she left with her new guardian, Mr. J. Black, a butcher in the town of Hastings. It was 18 years before she saw her sisters again. Unlike the experience of many home children Lillian was adopted into her new family and given the name Veronica Black.

On January 3, 1898 Lillian entered the Sisters of Providence as a Tertiary and was given the name Sr. Nora. Tertiaries were auxiliaries who performed domestic labour and were part of the Congregation from 1895 to 1907, when they were allowed to enter the novitiate.
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by Veronica Stienburg

Members of the Kingston branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society Kingston undertook the significant job of transcribing the Congregation’s records of the home children. Here, OGS representatives present Sisters of Providence archivist Veronica Steinburg (left) with the published copy of the records

Between 1870 and the late 1930s over 100,000 “home children” were sent to Canada from Great Britain. Due to the industrial revolution, cities in England in the mid-19th century were overcrowded and living conditions for many poor and destitute adults and children were terrible. Over 50 different charitable and religious agencies participated in what was considered rescuing impoverished children by sending them to Canada where they were received by distributing centres and then placed in homes. Unfortunately, many children were permanently separated from their families and were exploited as domestic servants and farm labour in Canada. View full article »

by Sister Irene Wilson

As Associates and Sisters began the second stage of the renewal and celebration of the historical roots of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, we felt a certain excitement moving from 16c France to 19c Montreal, Canada. Associate Marie McCartney, and Sister Shirley Morris brought to light the lives of Bishop Ignace Bourget and Sister Émilie Gamelin.

Shirley set the context for the inception of the first Canadian foundation of Sisters outside of Europe by describing in detail, through word and picture, not only the life and times of Bishop Bourget, the second bishop of Montreal, but also the social, political and ecclesial conditions that characterized his 36 years of leadership from 1840–1876. View full article »

by Jamie Swift

Those 13 words speak volumes about the why of war. Particularly since they were uttered at a 1936 Vimy Ridge Pilgrimage by Canada’s first Silver Cross Mother.

Charlotte Susan Wood was speaking to King Edward VIII as they gazed across the former killing fields subsequently planted with uncountable white crosses row on row.

Mrs. Wood was a Winnipeg laundry worker whose son Percy had perished at Vimy Ridge before he turned 18, one of her five sons killed in World War I.

“Please God, Mrs. Wood,” replied King Edward, “It shall never happen again.”

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by Sister Gayle Desarmia

San Martin is a small town about eight kilometres from El Progresso. About 80 families live there. They are poor and very hardworking. Early every day they go to their fields to cultivate broccoli, onions, potatoes and other vegetables. It is cold when they start out and when they come back home their clothes are wet from working through the heat of the day.

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Providence Associate Jan Kehoe offered a blessing along with her chaplaincy team colleague Mark Vigrass


by Sister Jeannette Filthaut

On March 27, St. Joseph’s Continuing Care Hospital in Edmonton officially opened its palliative care wing. Our congregation having opened the hospital originally, in 1948, we Sisters of Providence in Edmonton were invited to the blessing of this newly-renovated wing.

Sister Rita Gleason and myself were able to participate. We were honoured to assist in placing the first crucifix in the hallway as the doors were opened. This crucifix once hung in the original St. Joseph’s Hospital on Whyte Avenue.




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On Friday, March 22 Kingston’s social justice vigil keepers will continue their 17 year campaign against poverty. We’ll welcome the coming of spring by urging Ontario – and Kingston MPP Hon. John Gerretsen – to end the three-year freeze on the provincial minimum wage.

They will deliver a big block of ice containing $10.25 in coins to Mr. Gerretsen’s office.
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