Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Sister of Providence to profess final vows in Great Falls

the Inland Register

(From the July 29, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

Sister Karen Hawkins SPSister Karen Hawkins will profess final vows as a Sister of Providence next month in Great Falls, Mont. (IR photo from the Sisters of Providence)

Sister Karen Hawkins will make final profession of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as a Sister of Providence on Sunday, Aug. 8, at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church in Great Falls, Mont. A brunch in honor of Sister Karen will follow.

“I feel I am living out (the Providence) mission currently as an addiction counselor for Gateway Treatment Center,” she said. Part of her work is with clients who have been involved in the criminal justice system and with women dealing with the trauma of having their children removed from the home as a result of their addiction.

Born in Indiana, Sister Karen is a single mother with an adult son in Long Island, N.Y. “I was surprised by God – shocked, really – to have had life as a single mother and then be called to Religious life.”

Sister Karen says her spiritual journey with the Providence community began in 1991, when she met the Sisters of Providence while working as a client advocate and financial manager at one of their sponsored ministries, Sojourner Place, a haven for women in transition in Seattle. She had been considering entry into another Religious community, but then she heard about Providence Associates, lay people who share the mission and spirituality of Providence without seeking vowed membership. She became a Providence Associate in the summer of 1993.

“I loved the faith sharing and learning about the Sisters and their foundress through the orientation process,” she said. Relationships with the Providence Associates and the women in the programs developed “at a very deep level,” she said, but eventually, she realized that she was called to an even deeper level.

She entered the novitiate in 1998, and professed first vows in 2000.

Preparation for these final vows has included a month-long retreat, “a real gift to be able to reflect and pray about what God is saying to me now,” she says. Part of the gifts of being a Sister of Providence are living in community, praying together and sharing faith, she said. “I am part of a group that is bringing about the kingdom and reign of God. The community gives me the freedom that I can be about that.”

Part of her journey as a Sister of Providence involved working at Tekakwitha National Conference Center in Great Falls. “My appreciation of the Native peoples deepened as I was exposed to their spirituality, respect and care for the earth,” she said. “I was allowed to be present with them as they continue to integrate who they are as Native with who they are as Catholics.”

Sister Karen has a bachelor’s degree in human services from the University of Great Falls with a minor in addiction counseling. She formerly worked for 20 years as a financial analyst in New York and as a certified nurses’ aide at Providence Elder Place in Portland.

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