Sister Irene Wilson

Mary Joseph William
1934 - 2023

Irene Wilson was born in Perth, Ontario on February 8, 1934, the fifth of ten children of Ruby White and William Wilson. She graduated from St. John School and Perth Collegiate.

On August 15, 1952 she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul in Kingston. After making her First Profession of Vows two years later, she attended Toronto Teachers’ College. She later graduated from Queen’s University with her Bachelor of Arts degree.

From 1955 to 1972 Sister Irene taught in Trenton, Montreal and Kingston at the elementary level and in Belleville, Smiths Falls and Brantford at the secondary level. In 1970 after a year of Theology studies at the University of Windsor, she was asked to be Vocation and Formation Director for the Congregation.

In 1978 she took a program in Spiritual Direction at the Institute for Spiritual Leadership in Chicago. She was then assigned as the Director of the House of Prayer at Providence Hall in Belleville, worked part-time at the Motherhouse Retreat Centre and served on the Vocation Team. In 1981 she added the position of Spiritual Animator at St. Peter’s Parish in Trenton. In 1986 she completed a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies at Loyola University in Chicago and then became Director of the Retreat Centre.

In 1989 she was elected as General Assistant to the General Superior and served in leadership until 1994. She then went to Toronto where she offered spiritual direction and volunteered one day a week at the Good Shepherd Centre which provided lunch for street people and gave her an opportunity to converse with some of them. For four years she belonged to a support group for a former sex-offender who was trying to readjust to life in Toronto after many years in the Kingston Penitentiary. Meanwhile she worked on weekend and longer retreats in Toronto, Guelph and Providence Spirituality Centre, Kingston.

When she returned to Kingston in 2002, she offered spiritual direction and assisted in directing retreats at Providence Spirituality Centre.

In 2011 she was invited to be Co-director of the Providence Associate Program and remained in this ministry until June 2017.

Sister Irene was a kind and compassionate mentor who had a profound and lasting impact on those who sought her guidance through spiritual direction. In her wisdom she often reminded us as a congregation to look at our reality and to ‘take a long loving look at the real’. 

Sister Irene was called home to her loving God on March 26, 2023. The reception of her body was Thursday, March 30th at 3:30 p.m. followed by the Vigil Service. The Mass of Christian Burial, held in the Chapel of Mary, Mother of Compassion was presided over by Friar Ed Debono, OFM Conv. on Friday, March 31, 2023. Sister Una Byrne delivered the homily.