From left: Ann Boniferro, Helen Driver and Mary Olenick.
BY ANN BONIFERRO, PROVIDENCE ASSOCIATE
On April 7th the weather outside was cold and dreary, yet inside the Chapel of Mary, Mother of Compassion, the joy of the Easter season was evident as the Providence Associates celebrated Evening Prayer. The sanctuary was decorated with spring flowers, and a graceful drape of rainbow fabric reflected the covenant between God and all of creation which inspired our seasonal theme, “Trust the Covenant – The Time is Now.” In this beautiful setting, in front of an assembly of Sisters, Associates, family and friends, Helen Driver, Mary Olenick and I made our commitments as Providence Associates.
The ceremony marked the final step in a two-year process. Beginning as inquirers in 2016, we were each assigned a mentor to guide us in understanding the history, charism, spirituality and mission of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. Discovering all that the Sisters have done and continue to do to support the vulnerable, honour creation, work for justice, and create inclusive communities is truly inspiring. Tours of the Archives, Providence Manor, and the office of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation further expanded our learning. A weekend excursion to Montreal allowed us to explore the roots of the community in the Museum of the Sisters of Providence, and to walk in the footsteps of Blessed Emilie Gamelin in Old Montreal. The trip was also a chance to get to know our wonderful travel companions, Sisters and Associates from Toronto, Quinte, Brockville and Kingston, who remained joyful in hope, even when our bus broke down on the highway on the way home!
Through monthly Associate group gatherings, as well as general meetings, education sessions and retreats, we continue to strengthen the bonds that unite us in our commitment to live out our Baptismal call to witness to the Providence of God in the church and in the world. Helen, Mary and I are also blessed to be members of the Sunday faith community at Providence Motherhouse where the liturgical seasons and celebrations inspire our service in ministry and growth in faith.
We are grateful to the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, the Providence Associates, and to our families and friends who have supported us on this journey. As Sister Sandra said in the commitment ceremony, “May our association bring praise and glory to God, support to one another and renewed hope for all God’s people.”