BY SISTER JEAN HIGGINS
.. unless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain but if it dies it yields a rich harvest- St.John 12:24
I went to Peru in 1986 and started working with several Youth Groups. I had also worked with the youth in Guatemala. Each country is different. Even the Spanish had variations that I had to learn.
After many months of enjoying the enthusiasm of these young people, both male and female, I was thrown off guard after one of our meetings when several young women approached me and said, “We want to be a Sister like you, Sister Jean.” Well I was quite taken aback and responded, “You must be joking.” But they were serious. This got me thinking and praying and I wondered if God really was calling these people to be Religious and to our Sisters of Providence congregation. As well at this time, many congregations were receiving young men and women, so I thought we needed to look at this calling these people were experiencing.
My next big step was to present this idea to the other two Sisters with whom I was living.
This was difficult because they had tried this in the past and didn’t have the energy to do this again. I wasn’t giving up, because I was convinced God was calling these young people. They liked something about our congregation and I felt they were entitled to be informed. I felt that our Sisters were getting older and I wanted the Spirit and Mission of the Sisters of Providence to stay alive in Peru after they are gone. So, the idea was dropped but I knew of a brand new Movement for lay people in Canada called the ASSOCIATE PROGRAM of the Sisters of Providence. It was being formed for all kinds of people, from all walks of life and so I suggested we SP’s introduce this to our Peruvian people — especially those who worked in our groups. There were a lot of questions. I wrote to Sister Pauline Lally and received the information as this was Sr. Pauline’s dream!
Later that year, Sisters Irene Forrester and Francis O’Brien came for a yearly visit and I suggested we have an information night and present this program to our people. One presentation looked at the original history in France, another the Canadian Foundation and I introduced the Associate Program. We invited people from the groups we worked with, the pastor, and Padre Gustavo Gutierrez, Padre Jorge Calderon and the many friends and other Communities we knew.
The stage was set and about 40 people came. Everything went well and many questions were asked. I remember one gentleman asking Sister Irene Forrester “Do you think we will ever be able to go to one of your Chapters?” Sister replied with maybe — she was ahead of her time. I remember asking Clementina (our Cook) the next day what she thought of the meeting. She said she gained insight into what the Sisters do. This was a great success and all the glory goes to our Provident God. Four years later Carmen Alominia came to Canada and studied the Associate program, and the rest is history. We now have ASSOCIATES and PERUVIAN SISTERS. Wow! Our Provident God works in Mysterious ways. If we look with God’s lens into the future all will be well. And so the seed was sown and will continue to grow with God’s grace.