The Associates of the Sisters of Divine Providence of Melbourne, KY are very busy practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
Practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy are at the center of every CDP Associate’s commitment. Like the threads of a tapestry, each contributes to a richly embroidered, larger picture of God’s providence—alive, active, wrapping the world in love and touching people in simple yet powerful ways…
Mary Helen Bertolini, a CDP Associate since 1986, had nothing specific in mind when she contacted the Cincinnati Youth Cooperative (CYC) several years ago. She was simply responding to a gentle interior nudge she thought might be an invitation from the Spirit. CYC quickly accepted Mary Helen’s offer to help out, and asked her to mentor a student from an inner-city grade school who struggled with a troubled home life. Their relationship has grown over time. Today, the student attends a local Catholic high school, but she and Mary Helen continue to share the casual, helpful conversations that occur while they engage in activities as simple as taking an occasional walk together. “Adore the designs of God without knowing them,” advised Father Moye. Mary Helen embraced that advice when she agreed to become a mentor for CYC, trusting she would be an instrument of God’s providence. Years later, she’s quick to point toward the many blessings she has received through this ministry.
The compassionate, mission-oriented heart of CDP Associate Cathy Brunner shows the face of God’s providence on a daily basis through La Amistad, a Cincinnati-area non-profit for which she and her husband, Mark, assumed personal responsibility more than ten years ago. La Amistad offers day-to-day living assistance, clothing, food, medical care and below-market housing to refugees and immigrants from Central America. With the couple’s unflagging dedication to this ministry (not to mention their own rehab skills), La Amistad has expanded its operation to seven houses from its original two. Presently, they serve as living quarters for nine immigrant and refugee families, including fifteen children. One family has expressed an interest in purchasing their residence, and Cathy and Mark are working to make that possible for any interested resident family in the future. The couple is always on the lookout for other houses to rehab so they can assist more people who are most in need of a new start in a new land and a place to call “home.” For Cathy, the words of CDP founder Blessed Jean Martin Moye are a daily touchstone as she heads out the door to be the instrument of God’s care for others: “Providence will guide us, let us have confidence.”
“Love and do what you will.” This simple directive of the founder helps inspire the ministry of Associate Terri Meunnich, who lovingly reaches out to bereaved women and families grieving the loss of a child who did not survive birth. Crafting beautiful, custom-made “angel gowns” or wraps for the children’s remains from donated wedding dresses, she is put in touch with interested families through contacts at local hospitals. Terri, who also creates a memorial ornament for each family to keep, became an Associate in 2021. She was initially attracted to the program through her aunt, CDP Sister Jane Frances Kaelin.
For more than twenty years, ACDP Anne Etzel has been in love with her volunteer service at SMILE (“Service Makes Individual Lives Exciting”). Started by a group of pastors in the southern part of Calvert County, MD in an unused former Methodist rectory, this ecumenical outreach ministry soon expanded to new and larger quarters. Sales of the thrift store’s donated gently-used goods provide the core of support that makes SMILE’s food pantry and other services possible, including an emergency assistance program. Anne helps pre-sort clothes items and makes sure they are in good condition before being put on the racks. For her, this service is a sacred opportunity to show others the face of God’s providence. “Every day,” says Anne, quoting Jean Martin Moye, “I can see more clearly than ever that Providence guides and directs everything….”. The ministry has attracted the services of other Associates (and CDP Sisters) over the years, including ACDP Cheryl Ware.
It’s so wonderful to see how Providence is evidenced in the lives and service of these Associates. May your ministries continue to be blessed!
Barbara McMullen, CDP