The Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul and their Associates have been discussing their future.  Barbara Baker, the Director of Associates, shares their process with us in this article.

The Providence Associates have known since 2018 that sometime in the future we would need to move away from our dependence on the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. At our AGEM that year, Sister Frances O’Brien facilitated our gathering as we talked about possibilities for an autonomous future. At that time, we thought the best option for us would be to become a Non-Profit Organization.

On October 31st of last year, Peter Pula from Axiom News, facilitated a Summit that brought together 32 Providence Associates, 3 Sisters, Frances O’Brien, Gayle Desarmia and Pauline Lally and one guest, Bridget Doherty Director of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office. We talked about what we wanted to get rid of, what we wanted to hold on to and what we wanted to bring to our new reality. We talked about our values and what we wanted to focus on as we planned for our future. The conversations were rich and energizing. By the end of our day, we had chosen four foci that we would pursue and four people to act as facilitators for our circle conversations. They were “Structures/Finances” with Barbara Baker, “Staying Connected” with Ann Boniferro, “Spirituality” with Laraine Corbin and “Relationship with JPIC” with Bridget Doherty.

Later we chose dates for our follow-up Zoom Circle conversations that are giving direction to our planning for the next few years. Ann hosted three Zoom calls where she guided many of us through the process of participating in and hosting Zoom calls. The participants also talked about how we could stay in touch with one another over space and time. A schedule was created for the groups to connect with one other group each month over the year ahead. A few people have agreed to stay in touch with those Associates who are at a distance and are not able to use the technology needed to access Zoom conversations.

Barbara hosted two conversations about our Structures. There were many who attended these very exciting and energetic conversations. By the end of our time 3 people, Ann Boniferro, Eleanor Casey and Helen Driver agreed to work on a draft of by-laws. At this time the first draft has been submitted to Queen’s Law Business Clinic (QLBC) asking if they will take us on as a client and guide us in the process of becoming a Non-Profit Organization. Three people have agreed to work on a future budget for the new organization, they are Susan Kennedy, Eleanor Casey and Wen Bogues.

The third focus for the Providence Associates is Spirituality. Laraine Corbin hosted an initial conversation in January of this year to encourage us to talk with each other about our Spiritual life as exemplified in the lives of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. It was a very enriching time and we agreed to continue the conversations.

The fourth focus was relationship with the JPIC Office. Bridget Doherty decided to hold off on this topic until more of the business issues have been taken care of.

There is much work to be done and the Providence Associates and Sisters are happy with what is unfolding and the plans we have in place for our future.

Caption: From left: Barbara Baker, Ann Boniferro, Laraine Corbin, and Bridget Doherty.

I know other Associate groups in the WPC congregations are discussing their sustainability in the future as well.  It’s always good that we can share information with one another.  

Barbara McMullen, CDP

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