Most of the time the stories on the WPC website revolve around the Sisters. This one though is about Associates from the Holyoke, MA area and the new leadership taking place among them.
Prior to the annual Missioning Day ceremony on September 27, 2020, there was a special ritual to recognize the change in leadership for the Sisters of Providence Associate Program. Outgoing leader Patricia St. Amand was thanked for her 11 years as Co-Director and 7 years as the tireless Director of the Associates, for a total of 18 years in the role. Pat has led the Associate Core Group in planning a variety of new initiatives from Associates retreats at Genesis Spiritual Life Center to development of the Associate Guide Book. She also was instrumental in creating the Women of Providence in Collaboration Associate Directors group and in hosting their gatherings at Genesis. “Pat has been the intrepid leader for the SP Associates for so many years,” said Sr. Kathleen Popko, SP President. “Her commitment to the Program and her dedication to living the SP charism are beautiful to behold.” In January 2020, Pat retired as the Director of the SP Communications Office after 35 years of publishing the SP newsletter, Tracings.
The in-coming Associate Co-directors, whom Pat has mentored, are Aida Gaouette and James Clifford. Aida has been an Associate since 2006 and has been a member of the Core Committee for the past two years. Commenting, Aida said, “In my Association with the Sisters of Providence, I have gained great spiritual growth and at the same time gained many treasured friendships among both the Sisters as well as the Associates. I feel that for every minute of service I give, it is returned 100-fold in the many blessings I receive.”
Jim Clifford became an Associate in 2009 and served on the Core Committee since 2017. Jim believes in the saying “’Providence works in extraordinary ways.’ My Association with the Sisters of Providence has deepened and solidified my continuing journey into the spirit and faith that are at the core of this saying.”
Reflecting on this transition in leadership, Pat noted that Jim and Aida are stepping into their new roles in the midst of the continuing challenges posed by Covid-19. She said, “Due to the restrictions posed by the pandemic, Associates have not been able to gather for Congregational or Associate events or programs for the last six months. Both of our new Co-Directors have been part of the Core Committee’s efforts to keep the Associate Program vibrant through, for example, ZOOM Associate prayer services and committee meetings. I know Aida and Jim’s collaborative approach to their new positions is sure to support and enhance our Associate Program’s continued growth throughout these trying times. I pray they will find this new phase in their own personal Associate journeys as rewarding as I have.”
Associates of the Women of Providence congregations have been gathering formally since 2011 and established their own Charter with a mission and vision statement to guide them. They plan conferences every other year, and even amid the challenges of Covid-19 there is a planning committee working on the gathering for September of 2021. It’s such a grace and blessing to have associates in our WPC organization!
Barbara McMullen, CDP