Mass celebrating the Sisters arrival in San Francisco el Alto on July 8th, 1979. Left to Right: Sr. Julia Hamilton, Sr. Connie Kaufmann, Sr. Winnifred Callary, Sr. Shirley Morris, Sr. Stella Szybisty and Sr. Mary Bernadette.
BY VERONICA STIENBURG, ARCHIVIST
July 8th is the 40th anniversary of the Sisters of Providence arrival in San Francisco el Alto, Guatemala. In 1977 some local Guatemalan women expressed interest in religious life consequently the Sisters of Providence opened a House of Formation in San Francisco el Alto in 1979. The house closed in 1981 when it was decided that the local women should be directed to a Guatemalan congregation. The Sisters missioned to San Francisco el Alto were redirected to work in San Cristobal and Momostenango.
While the Sisters were living in San Francisco el Alto a group of lay people bonded together to perform works of charity with the Sisters. In 1983 Sr. Muriel Gallagher, the General Superior, suggested that the Sisters form a pilot project of Providence Associates. The Sisters, living in San Cristobal, invited the group of lay people from San Francisco el Alto to form an Associate group. They met for the first time in May 1983 and at monthly meetings learned about the spirit and Charism of the congregation. The first 17 Socios made commitment as Providence Associates on September 28, 1985. The San Francisco El Alto Associate group remained active until 2014.