Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
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Woman of Providence Award bestowed on two women Religious
the Inland Register
(From the July 28, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)
Providence Sisters Michelle Holland (right) of Spokane and Ruth McGoldrick of Holyoke, Mass., were honored with the Woman of Providence Award last month. (IR photo from the Sisters of Providence)
Providence Sister Michelle Holland of Spokane received the first Woman of Providence Award last month.
The award, a specially created silver medallion, was bestowedin June at the 25th anniversary celebration of Women of Providence in Collaboration (WPC), an organization she helped found. The other foundress, Ruth McGoldrick, SP, of Holyoke, Mass., also received the award at the motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.
WPC is open to congregations of women Religious that use Providence in their congregation’s name.
The three-day Providence Event drew more than 220 participants from the United States and Canada.
In addition to the presentations to the founding Sisters, members of the first steering committee also were honored.
WPC was born in 1980. Sister Michelle, then provincial superior of the former St. Ignatius Province, and others felt that the dwindling number of Providence Sisters demanded a coming together of communities with similar agendas and goals. At the end of 1980, there were 171 Providence Sisters in the province east of the Cascade Mountains and 282 in the former Sacred Heart Province, west of the mountains. Today, in the Mother Joseph Province, formed by combining the two provinces in 2000, there are about 185 Sisters.
In 1980 it became clear that in the future it would be very important for Sisters to reach out to other Religious communities with a similar agenda. A combining of forces would bring the strength that the Sisters’ numbers alone could not provide.
Sister Michelle wrote to every community with Providence in its name – men and women. Fourteen congregations expressed interest – all congregations of women. Woman of Providence in Collaboration was born. The group’s first gathering was held in Great Falls, Mont., 15 years ago this month.
Because of the interest that was generated, the plan became to do the same every two years in gatherings in different locations so more Sisters could attend. Those gatherings came to be known as Providence Events.
According to Sister Michelle, “Women of Providence has been more than a chance for Sisters to get together. It was a good thing for the people dealing with formation because it was their first exposure to Sisters of other communities who were their own age. It strengthened them and let them know there were other women Religious their age.”
Another example of the impacts of the collaboration was discussions on Providence caring for the world that led to the Sisters’ involvement in ecology movements and other initiatives, she said. At the Providence Event in June, the group took official stands against misuse of Earth’s resources and against the trafficking of women and children.