By Peter DeWolf
ARNPRIOR, ONT/The Chronicle Guide
The following article and photographs originally appeared in the Arnprior Chronicle-Guide on Sept 18, 2002. They are reprinted here with permission.
Over 300 parishioners and well-wishers were present at the parish hall in Arnprior on Sunday Sept. 15, as Sister Nancy Wilson celebrated 50 years of service to the Sisters of Providence and to the church community.
“I have enjoyed every year of my religious life,” said Sister Nancy, the popular Sister who has served many years in the Arnprior area.
Sister Nancy is probably known best in the public sphere as an educator, having taught at St. Joseph’s Separate School in 1955 and 1956, and again from 1975 to 1977 and finally as principal from 1978 to 1985.
However, Sister Nancy did not always see herself as a teacher, in fact she applied as a young woman to enter the nursing field.
However, the influences of her fun-loving teachers in Perth, who were nuns at St. John’s separate school in Perth, and later as a high school student at Perth Collegiate, convinced the young woman to consider joining the congregation of the Sisters of Providence. One of a family of five boys and five girls, she and her sister Irene decided to enter the religious order. After completing six months of postulancy and two years as a novice, she took her initial vows in 1954. Those vows were normally renewed each year for three years, after which a nun had a chance to decide if the religious life was the right path for her. The congregation also had a chance to see if the new nun was suited to life within a religious community.
Sister Nancy never had any second thoughts, and in 1957 she took her final vows, which are lifetime vows. “I can really say no regrets,” insisted Nancy. “I believe God touches us – that we have a calling.”
The Sisters of Providence, into which Sister Nancy entered, was founded in 1861. Its primary focus was on the elderly, poor and orphaned. Over the years, teaching also became an area in which the congregation was active and that was where Sister Nancy became involved. She attended teacher’s college in Toronto and soon after completing her studies was assigned to Arnprior. Then it was off to Kingston, Tweed, Trenton, Chesterville, Picton, and Smiths Falls before ending up back in Arnprior.
After making an impact at St. Joseph’s in Arnprior, Sister Nancy left teaching to become general superior of the congregation, holding that office until 1989. Since then, Sister Nancy has kept very active in her service to the Church.
After completing her Masters degree in Theology at Regis College through the University of Toronto in 1991, she has stayed active in St. John Chrysostom parish. She co-ordinates teams that help with baptisms, penance and confirmations and helps with pastoral care and visiting the sick.
The food bank has been a special interest for Sister Nancy, along with the furniture dispensary. “There is tremendous need in Arnprior,” she noted.
Sister Nancy has also been involved with the charismatic movement in the Church and she feels it has involved a large number of the lay members more deeply in the faith. “It brought such joy to me to praise God,” she said of the movement.
She finds sharing the faith as an inspiration in her life, as well as having parishioners share their faith with her. “The people of Arnprior have been so wonderful to me,” Sister Nancy added.
Sister Nancy plans on staying busy as long as her health allows, though she admits to taking summers off now and has recently reduced her schedule from five days a week to four days. It would seem that Sister Nancy Wilson will not be resting on the laurels any time soon, but remaining an active and vital part of the Arnprior community for many years to come.