This story is shared from the Sisters of Providence, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN and Sr. Jessica Vitente who professed first vows on August 14, 2021. These are her words.
“Tomorrow, I will profess for the first time one-year vows as a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. As I look back, I truly feel my quest for God has been luring and leading me to this opportunity, so that I can live the fullness of life that I am meant to live. I’ve found a fulfillment that we all desire in life. Here I can enhance existing talents and discover new gifts. Those gifts will be vessels and instruments in contributing to making the world a better place.
I feel very peaceful and joyful about my YES to life as a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. These past three years since I entered the Congregation, I have been so loved, supported and accepted. I look forward to continuing to deepen these relationships.
In the past three years, I have been gifted the opportunity to learn how to pause and live in a contemplative way. I have been able to do the unimaginable. I can deeply listen to God’s invitations and to be responsive in my mind, my heart, my body and my soul so that I can deeply connect with the living Divine. So that I can bring the reign of God anywhere and everywhere I go — to the grocery store, the gas station, the jail, community college or university, the airport or hiking trail, the beach, museum, etc. God speaks in mysterious ways!
These past years have been a total gift. It has taken many prayers, grace and a lot of inner work to find total freedom. My journey is convoluted! It is messy! And it is so rewarding! I thought I knew total freedom before, but I feel that I have had more freedom in these past years than I could have ever imagined. As Saint Mother Theodore Guerin says, “Have confidence in the Providence that so far has never failed us. … ”
I have so many hopes for the future: my future and future generations. I hope for gender equality and for racial equality. We pray for safety for migrants and justice for the imprisoned. With my community I work toward the abolition of the death penalty and for more educational opportunities for people in need. I pray for less physical, emotional and mental violence against ourselves and each other. I am striving to be the best version of myself by living a contemplative lifestyle. By taking a very long and loving gaze in the mirror. As Saint Mother Theodore Guerin said,
“If you lean with all your weight on Providence, you will find yourself well supported.”
I strive to create space for people I meet along the journey. People who are searching for companionship as they struggle. Perhaps they are stuck due to fear of the unknown or lack of opportunity. Perhaps they find themselves in deep need of faith, hope and love — of Christ’s light. As Sister Jean Hinderer, CSA, once shared with me, “I belong to everyone, and I belong to no one.”
I’ve found a treasure! I’ve found the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of-the-Woods, Indiana, and they have found me. I pray to Provident God that we will never let go of each other. I look forward to living out the evangelical counsels of obedience, poverty and chastity for one year for the first time in my life. More importantly, I hope for fidelity for many years to come.
I thank Sister Jessica for allowing me to use her story and share it with all of you. If you would like to learn more about her congregation visit their website: www.SistersofProvidence.org
Congratulations, Jessica, and may the treasure you found continue to grow within you and all those you touch! Thank you for sharing your hope and belief in religious life with all of us too! The photo accompanying this article ( you need to read it on the actual website) shows Sr. Jessica with Sr. Madeline Mattingly, the oldest Sister of Providence at the Woods! The young and the old meet–two great treasures!!
Barbara McMullen, CDP