By Sr. Mary Hawkins, SP
The Sisters of Providence were founded in 1843 by Emilie Gamelin, a young widow, in Montreal. Inspired by the love of Christ, Emilie felt called to serve those in need - including the poor, hungry and sick. People living near Emilie were so grateful for her help that they referred to her work as "Providence."
In 1856, Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart traveled to the Pacific Northwest along with four other sisters. Together, they established schools, orphanages, and other establishments for those in need - all in the name of Providence. The mission of the Sisters of Providence states "God has called and united us as Sisters of Providence in the Church to proclaim the mysteries of Providence and Our Mother of Sorrows to the society of our times by our compassionate love and creative, prophetic solidarity with the poor. In the tradition of our foundress, we serve society's most vulnerable members." Mother Emilie Gamelin's mission of caring for the needy has truly evolved over the years, as the Sisters of Providence have expanded their focus to include education, parish ministry, health care, serving the community, ministering to those in prison, and more.
The Sisters of Providence have ministered in the West for 150 years. When I think of my life as a Sister of Providence, I know that God called me to join this community. This vocation is a grace that I treasure. I have always been proud to belong to a group with the name of Providence. I am also grateful that the Sisters of Providence have, since our very beginnings, worked with lay persons who share in our "good works". This collaboration is enriching and enhances our compassion with and for others.
To belong to the Sisters of Providence is to become aware of the needs of our societies, to gain a sense of the many works of Providence and to feel a participation in all of these works in many areas of the world. To be charged with the mission of proclaiming Providence is a sacred trust. God loves each one of us, and for that blessing, I am most grateful. Providence of God, I thank you for all.