Posts Tagged ‘Sisters of Providence’


As the time to make my annual Associate commitment rolled around I was debating on whether I wanted to continue as an Associate with the Sisters of Providence. This hesitation had only to do with the fact that I now live so far away from “the woods” and I wasn’t sure how I could contribute from this distance.

But isn’t this what I had been praying for? To break away, to leave the nest where I had worked and served the Sisters for 8 years. God answered my prayer. How can I contribute from this far away? The same way other Associates do.

As Providence Associates, we further the mission of the Sisters of Providence by:

  • co-creating a hope-filled world,
  • building relationships,
  • cultivating community,
  • and living lives that challenge them to embody the face of Providence as they seek to be love, mercy, and justice in the world.


There are more than 200 Providence Associates all over the United States. We stay connected by praying the Prayer of Reunion, by praying the Litany of Non-Violence, by staying in touch with each other and the Sisters, and by bringing love, mercy and justice into our sphere of influence.

How am I going to do that in 2020? Things have changed for me over night and I am completely blown away by God’s AWESOMENESS! I had been serving the community of Valdosta, Georgia for several weeks through Living Bridges Ministries. I loved it! I was in the beginning stages of becoming a liaison between the ministry and a single mom’s ministry in Valdosta. I have had a passion for single moms for 13 years and I was finally realizing the dream of serving single moms. I have written a Bible study for single moms and am now a certified Biblical lay counselor. AND THEN my car broke down. I can’t get to Living Bridges now, BUT GOD opened a window for me to serve single moms from home! I will still go to the local single mom ministry and serve the single moms there. I also was invited to be a featured expert on the expert panel with The Life of a Single Mom Ministries!!! It will be a huge blessing in my effort to reach single moms and be able to counsel single moms worldwide. I have dreamed about being on that panel, but never thought that I was good enough. They loved my simple Bible study and invited me. I am still blown away by God’s goodness. Anyway, this is how I can bring love, mercy and justice into the world as a Providence Associate. I have been blessed by the Sisters of Providence and in this small way I give back.

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The commitment ceremony on November 18th was beautiful. It was a full day of reflection, prayer and sharing. It was a day that was celebrated by the 22 of us making our first commitments, those Associates that were able to come celebrate with us and the Sisters of Providence. It was a celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Associate program and a looking forward to the years to come. It was a fond farewell to Sister Diane, who is retiring after years of dedicated service to the Associate program. It was a day of laughter and tears and it was a day of peace in my decision to become an Associate. This day has been a long time coming for me. I started this journey in 2011 and it has taken me this long to get here, but I persevered. I knew that God was calling me into this relationship and as I sat there during the ceremony, eagerly anticipating the moment that I received me associate pin, I knew that this was right. I felt at home. I felt at peace. I knew that Saint Mother Theodore was looking down on me and I was now a daughter of this remarkable woman.

I still don’t know where this journey is going to lead. I am taking one day at a time and trusting in God to lead me in His will for my life. I know that I will still have moments when I want to run, but I trust in Providence. I know that as I delve deeper into this relationship with the Sisters, God will continue to work in my life. As I open my heart to those around me, God will provide opportunities for me to BE Providence in the lives of others and to bring love, mercy and justice to the world around me.

I am blessed to a part of this community of Sisters and Associates and I know that in this place, I am home.

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In just over a month, I will make my commitment as an Associate with the Sisters of Providence. I’m not really sure where this journey will take me, but I do know that God has led me down this path and He will reveal His purpose in His time. I started this journey 6 years ago and it has taken me this long to stop fighting Him and trying to make my own path and trust God to put me where He wants me. I have tried to make my own path. I have tried this and that trying to find God’s will for my life, but God brings me back to this magical place, affectionately called, “the Woods” and under the loving care of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and the Sisters of Providence. God continues to keep me here. This is my home. I know that once I make that commitment, I will find my place and God will be able to use me to bring love, mercy and justice into the world. I have said before that commitments are scary for me. I am afraid that once people get to know me, they will reject me. I need to step out of my fear. I need to allow the love of the Sisters to embrace me and maybe even heal me from my fears and anxieties. It is a safe place. I need to allow myself to be open to the love of these women. WOW! I need to accept that I am worthy of love. I have come a long way in the 6 1/2 years of employment with the Sisters, but I find myself still reserved. I am still not sure that anyone could love me just for who I am, imperfections and all. I am learning. I am growing. I think, maybe this is why God has placed me here, to be able to feel the unconditional love of these women. It is a safe, healing place. I feel like a butterfly emerging from it’s chrysalis. I have been locked up in this self imposed cocoon and I am ready to break free and fly into my God given purpose.


I am trembling at the prospect of completely baring my soul and letting these loving women know my heart, but I trust in the Providence that brought me here and I know that I am in a safe place.

Below is my Commitment Statement:

Providence Associate Commitment

I, Patti Burris, as an associate with the Sisters of Providence of Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, commit myself to be faithful to the spirit of the Congregation for one year. Through this relationship, I will strive to the best of my ability to support and further the mission of Providence.

I understand that as a Providence Associate, I am responding to an invitation from God to unite with you, my sisters and associates, to more fully live the vision of Providence in the world. In God’s presence and with God’s grace, I choose to make a commitment that will honor Divine Providence and further God’s loving plans through works of love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people. I choose to this in the following ways:

*Pray daily the Litany of Non-Violence.
*Participate in community celebrations, gatherings, enrichment programs and retreats as feasible.
*Give mutual support to one another, sisters, and associates in times of celebration and grief.
*Meet together with associates and sisters in local areas for prayer, reflection, socially and for peace and justice activities.
*Keep informed of Congregation news and information through communications and publications.
*Live the mission and charism of Providence in my daily life, work and ministry.
*Delve more deeply into the charism and mission of the Sisters of Providence through reading, reflection, prayer, conversation and participation.
*Participate in works, ministries, social justice activities and volunteer service with the Sisters of Providence.
*Pray on a regular basis for Sisters and Associates.

I am embarking on a great journey and I am excited to see what God is up to!


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When Sister Kay and I met to discuss unit 0ne in the integration unit: Story, I shared the different chapters of the story that makes me who I am. I will not rehash that here. I have shared bits and pieces of my story in various posts, but that is not what I want to do here.

Each one of us has a unique story. Our past, present and future is woven together and kept in the dark recesses of our heart. Every crevice of our heart is filled with the negative and positive events of our lives. It is this way for all of us. Some circumstances we go through alone, but there are times when we are brought together in joy or sorrow and our story is intertwined with the stories of others and we share a moment in time that will bring us together forever.

None of our experiences will ever be exactly like the experiences of someone else. We all have our own perceptions of things that happen. God has made us uniquely different. Only when we bring our stories together for the good can something magical happen. It is not our stories themselves that are important, it is what we do with those stories that makes the difference. Only when we take a tragic event and use it as a catalyst to make a difference in the world, will we see compassion. Only when we share our joys with others will we see love. We will never be able to control everything that happens to us, but we can control our reactions, thus changing the outcome and bringing good into our stories.

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin embraced her new adventure, travelling from France into the wilderness of Indiana, and the story of the Sisters of Providence has become intertwined into the stories of so many people, who are blessed because of her courage. Her story continues to influence the stories of people near and far. My story has been influenced by her story. The Sisters of Providence have become a special part of my story. I don’t know what the next chapter will be, as this story plays itself out, but I do know that I am looking forward to the adventure. My story has become a part of the stories of so many others who have felt the call of Providence on their lives. I am excited to see what the next chapter of my story will be.


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It was a beautiful day for the Associate’s orientation. It was a day of prayer. It was a day of sharing our stories. Each person with a different story of how Providence brought them to this place of belonging. It was a day of reflection. It was a day of discomfort.

As an introvert with anxiety issues and social phobias, sharing my story with a group of 60 or so people was terrifying. I was shaking in my shoes as I stood there and held the microphone. I had rehearsed some of what I wanted to say, but it came out so much better than I had hoped. I’m sure they all heard the trembling in my voice and I did tear up once (What can I say, I’m emotional!). This was just the beginning of God pushing me out of my comfort zone on this journey. My companion, Sister Kay, has her work cut out for her. Since Saturday, I have been reflecting on why I want to be an associate and what my expectations are for this candidacy year and going forward.

I want to be an associate, because I want to be a reflection of love, mercy and justice in my sphere of influence. I want to join the Sisters in fighting for justice in the world. The Sisters are living examples of love in action. In many of our stories, we each shared a sense of belonging or being home. This isn’t a coincidence. The Sisters embody a spirit of hospitality and compassion. This campus has become a refuge for many of us. A place of peace in the midst of chaos. A shelter in the storm. We feel the loving presence of our Foundress, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and we know that in this place, we are safe.

I think the key word for this next year is GROW. I want to grow in my relationship with God. I want to grow in my relationship with the sisters. I want to grow in my prayer life. I want to grow as a christian. I want to grow as a writer.  I want to take the time to discern God’s will for my life as an associate. My kids are getting to the age where they don’t need me as much and I have more freedom to see where the Holy Spirit is leading me. This will definitely be a year of reflection and discernment.

I want to be able to transition from working in the food service dept. to working with the sisters on social justice issues. This is where my heart is. I have a passion to see justice for the oppressed, the abused, the lost. Oppression has many faces. There are so many people around the world who suffer in silence. They live lives of silent desperation and cry out in their pain. Is anyone listening? I have such a burning desire to join in the fight for these precious souls full-time, that at times, I cry out in frustration because I have bills to pay and money is a necessary evil. For now, I will do my best where God has placed me and trust in His Providence to work out a way that I may have my heart’s desire.

Psalm 37:4 

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

This is my prayer.

These are some of the things that have been on my mind since the orientation. God is molding my character. I feel it in my spirit. It can be a painful process, but so rewarding. I am a mess, but God is molding me into a vessel that He can use. That is what this process of becoming a Providence Associate is to me. It is the molding process that is needed to make me a scarred, but beautiful vessel that God can use to do His will on this earth. As I said in the orientation, I am where I belong.


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One week from today, I will begin my journey to becoming a Providence Associate. I actually started this journey 5 years ago, but I still had growing to do. I have always been an introvert. I have always been one to hide behind others. I don’t allow myself to get to close to anyone, because they might see the “real” me and reject me. Any time I start to get to close to a group of people, I panic and run. I have dealt with social anxieties all my life. This journey is going to push me out of my comfort zone. It will cause some discomfort. Growing often causes discomfort. It is going to cause me to open up and really trust people with the secrets of my heart. I am here for a reason. I have to trust the Providence of God.

During these last 5 1/2 years of working with the Sisters, I have felt myself open up and dare to trust. They have loved me through good and bad. They have encouraged me when they knew I was tired or down. They have prayed for me and they have spoken words of wisdom when I needed to hear it. God has used these women numerous times to bring me a sense of peace when life was difficult and I felt like running. I have often felt frustrated at not finding my “purpose” in life. I have struggled at not having a “ministry” when so many others are serving God and others full-time. At times when I have struggled the most, God has brought different sisters to me to tell me that my job there is a ministry, that my ministry is there, that I belong there, that being an associate is in my heart.

The sisters see me and they love me. I do belong at that beautiful place they call “The Woods.” I love them. I love these women and would do anything for them. The thought of being transparent scares me. The thought of being “me” in front of the Sisters and the other associates terrifies me, but I won’t run. God has things to teach me here and I am going to stay put and continue to grow in this place of love. I am ready to be transparent. I am ready to be me. I belong in this place of love, mercy and justice.

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