Sister Sandra Shannon
BY SISTER JEANNETTE FILTHAUT
We have lived the Charism and Mission for over 160 years, since our founding in Kingston, Ontario by Sisters of Providence in Montreal. On December 13, 2021, the Sisters of Providence held a small celebration that encompassed storytelling of the past, present and future in the Chapel of Mary, Mother of Compassion at Providence Motherhouse. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions the Sisters invited only a small number of special guests to participate in the Chapel celebration while others could join through the livestream.
General Superior, Sister Sandra Shannon joyfully welcomed everyone with – “What a life we have lived” – from our humble beginnings of responding to the needs of the times, to much change during our Golden years as a Congregation.
Archivist, Veronica Stienburg spoke of our early history with many new ministry openings. She focused on the hardships and new beginnings of our pioneer Sisters, of their journey west in 1908 to open a hospital in a small remote community of Daysland, Alberta. It was so cold that the Sisters often had frozen food along with terrible prairie blizzards.
At the Congregation’s centenary in 1961, the community comprised 400 Sisters and novices. Now at the 160th we are only 51 Sisters, however our Associate membership exceeds 90 people living in various regions of Canada and Peru.
Three Sisters of Providence and one Providence Associate shared with us personal experiences they had with our Sisters that influenced their lives.
Sister Lucy Kearney explained how being wished “grace of perseverance” at her welcome into the community, enhanced her diverse ministries of teaching and pastoral work.
Sister Pat Amyot spoke of how in the early days, decisions were often made for the younger Sisters, but now these decisions are done collaboratively with discernment on the parts of Leadership and the individual.
Sister Monica Whalen echoed the importance of discernment and dialogue, which she learned even in her intercommunity novitiate experience.
Shirley Kindellan, Providence Associate, was one of the initial members of the first group of Associates in 1985. Her Sister Prayer Partner prayed the Memorare every day for her as this was Shirley’s favourite prayer. Shirley shared Associate Debbie Muise’s story of her close connection with the western Sisters and how some 22 years later she became one of the initial western Associates.
At the close of the Eucharistic Celebration, Barbara Baker, Providence Associate Director, Bridget Doherty, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Director and Brian Hogan, Providence Village Board Chair, shared insights into how our Charism and Mission will be carried forward into the future.
Barbara Baker spoke of how the spirituality of the Associates is reflective of the Sisters’ spirituality and charism, of how they are moving to becoming a not-for-profit organization of liminal edge-walkers moving the planet and people to wholeness, as they reach out to the marginalized.
Bridget Doherty spoke of how on January 1st, 2022 a new path is being forged with CHSO (Catholic Health Sponsors of Ontario) to form Healthy Communities with Care for All through the Providence Centre for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.
Brian Hogan, spoke of the Sisters’ vision of Providence Village at Chapter 2015 and how this non-profit charitable organization, sponsored by the Catholic Health Sponsors of Ontario will partner with Providence Care, Hospice Kingston and the present Motherhouse to bring Hope, Belonging and Well Being to All.
After 160 years’ we are still able to Trust in Providence, Serve with Compassion and Walk Forward in Hope.