photo: David Muise
Back row: Sister Avita, Jan Kehoe, Sister Diane, Connie Prost, Sister Bernadine, Sister Jeannette Front row: Sister Pat, Debbie Muise, Sister Rita
BY CHRISTINE ROSS
A year of events marking the 150th anniversary of the only congregation founded in Kingston concluded with a meal shared by Sisters of Providence, Associates and staff on December 13th, exactly one year after the anniversary year began with evening prayer in the Chapel.
It’s been a remarkable century and a half journey with deep roots in the Kingston community. In the early days, the fledgling congregation built hospitals, educated thousands, served the underprivileged, the poor and seniors. Even in its infancy, the congregation became early architects of the social justice movement and continue today with events like the weekly Silent Vigils and collaborative work with groups fighting to eradicate poverty.
Although the Sisters face an unknown future, they embrace it with the same founding spirit of the pioneering women before them by accepting this ‘time of renewal.’
Compare these reflections from the congregation’s first and current General Superiors.
“Looking back as we did through the tangled paths of that decade of years we could visibly trace the ever watchful hand of Providence guiding us through rough and thorny ways.”
— Catherine McKinley, (Mother Mary Edward) first General Superior.
“We are here for our mission, which is to serve the poor, and that can take many forms and look like many things. We will keep our focus on the needs of the poor and creation, and that is what we hope to be in the future. Who knows what Kingston will be like 150 years from now? But our heritage will be here and our legacy will be here and it will be something related to the poor. We will still be influential in serving the marginalized in some way. We will continue to be true to who we are.”
— Sandra Shannon, current General Superior
Celebrating in the West
by Sr. Jeannette Filthaut
On Sunday, Dec. 18th six of the western Sisters and three Associates, along with the husband of one Associate, gathered for the 150th closing prayer and pot luck luncheon.
Sr. Rita Gleason graciously hosted us at the meeting room in her apartment building. As we shared a glass of wine to celebrate, Sister Jeannette debriefed the group on the celebrations that had taken place in Kingston at the Cathedral and at our Motherhouse.
Before lunch we prayed the 150th prayer that Sister Jeannette had prepared for Dec. 13th, 2010. The pot luck lunch was, as always, some very delicious food. Following the meal the Associates led us in the Advent prayer reflection. Sister Rita played her Provident woman song for the opening prayer and several Christmas carols for the closing prayer. Following the Advent prayer we gathered in Sister Rita’s apartment to view the 150th DVD that Sister Jeannette had brought back with her.
Although small in number, we were very grateful to have this celebration time together.
photo: David Muise
Sister Rita Gleason composed ‘Provident Woman’ for the 150th anniversary year.
Celebrating in Solidarity with the Sisters
December 13, 2011.
This date marks the 150th anniversary of the arrival in Kingston in 1861 of four Sisters of Providence from Montreal to establish a community to serve the elderly, the poor and orphaned children at the House of Providence (now Providence Manor).
Consequently, Providence Care has celebrated all year the 150th anniversary of the founding of their Catholic healthcare ministry in Kingston with a variety of functions.
December 13 is called Founders’ Day at the various sites of Providence Care. This year, in honour of this historic date, members of the Senior Leadership Team and Board of Directors greeted staff as they came to work to show appreciation for the staff’s ongoing commitment to continuing the Mission and enhancing the quality of life of those for whom they care.
In the evening, almost at the same time as the Sisters of Providence were celebrating the anniversary at Providence Motherhouse, the members of the Board of Directors and senior Leadership Team gathered in the Worship Centre at the Mental Health Services site. Here, they were engaged in a meaningful missioning service conducted by Rev. Dr. Neil Elford, Director Spiritual Health, Mission and Ethics and Sister of Providence Sheila Langton, CHCO Sponsor Designate.
The Foundation story was retold and the lessons to be learned were explained. The pioneer Sisters responded to unmet needs, serving the poor and most vulnerable with hearts dedicated to charity while providing the best care possible to those entrusted to them.
Board members committed themselves to being thoughtful stewards of the Vision and Mission of Providence Care, upholding the principles of Catholic social teaching. The Senior Leadership Team promised to go forward, trusting in Providence to lead the way.
Sister Sheila reminded the participants that the Foundation Story is the Providence Care “family story.” We tell and retell it in order to keep alive the spirit and the heart of the mission.
All enjoyed a festive dinner before attending the monthly Board meeting.
photo: Jenn Goodwin, Providence Care
Rev. Dr. Neil Elford, Director Spiritual Health, Mission and Ethics and Sister Sheila Langton, CHCO Sponsor Designate.