As I take the summer to enjoy a retreat, community meetings, family and friends, I am also enjoying learning more about Women of Providence in Collaboration as I prepare to begin this new ministry. I came across a quote from Saint Mother Theodore Guerin “Put yourself gently into the hands of Providence.” Indeed as this position unfolds, I am grateful to Sr. Dawn Tomaszewski, the Board of Directors and Sr. Barbara McMullen in welcoming me into WPC. It is especially good to know that Sr. Barbara will not be far from WPC as she continues in congregational leadership. I often reflect on this quote from Thomas Merton, “You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” As I embark on this new path with all of you, I embrace it with courage, faith and hope knowing that you are walking with me in sustaining the mission of the Women of Providence in Collaboration.
The experiences as part of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary (HM) and education I received served me well in teaching me about emergent systems, collaboration and nonprofit organizations. It also helped me to navigate the changing culture of religious life with regards to collaborating in ministry. With religious life adapting to smaller numbers and fewer sisters in the United States entering communities in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I became involved with Giving Voice as a core team member and participated in Collaborative for Leadership Development (CLDP-2). CLDP is a part of the Leadership Collaborative formed by the Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of St. Joseph and other communities wanting to develop leadership among sisters under 60. After ministering with young adults as a site director with Notre Dame Mission Volunteers in Baltimore and then as the director for the HM Volunteer Service, I accepted a position with the Leadership Collaborative in 2019. I am grateful for my experience with the Leadership Collaborative especially during the pandemic where I learned quickly how to adapt and pivot into this new age we find ourselves as we continue to build community and minister through ZOOM.
While working with the Leadership Collaborative during the pandemic in May of 2020, the staff had a re-design session with Debbie Asberry from Community Works who invited Martha McGinnis to be our graphic recorder. We had concerns at the time making us wonder that if the pandemic was prolonged would we be able to effectively fulfill the mission of the Leadership Collaborative. One of Martha’s illustrations was of a cut of a DNA strand and written across the image “Moving to a NEW FORM of GREATER COMPLEXITY…an organism always brings its past with it, encoded in its DNA.”
In accepting the position with Women of Providence in Collaboration and looking back at my involvement with Giving Voice, Leadership Collaborative and other opportunities I have had with various religious communities, each community is a living organism consistently changing and adapting to new forms in order to keep moving forward. Despite having to adapt and make changes in response to the times we find ourselves, the essence of who we are as religious communities sustains us.
Many communities are undergoing significant changes that seem to have been amplified within the last three years. Because it is in the DNA of our communities, we still endeavor to serve, live into the fullness of the gospel message and rely on the providence of From the new director
God as the path of religious life continues to unfold before us. The mission of WPC speaks clearly today as it did since its inception in sustaining its DNA, “We share and promote the evolving theology and spirituality of providence, witnessing a preferential option for the poor as we respond to the needs of our global society.”
I am appreciating “providence” as a living charism adapting and aligning with the goodness of all who journey with WPC. My prayer for this journey with you comes from the HM constitution, “God is faithful, hope is a way of life and love brings about justice and peace.” May it be so.
Sister Mary Stanco, HM