The Sisters of Providence leadership team were installed on June 14. From left, General Superior Sr. Sandra Shannon, and councillors Sr. Frances O’Brien, Sr. Gayle Desarmia and Sr. Diane Brennen. Photo courtesy of the Sisters of Providence of Vincent de Paul

Sisters to leave legacy with Providence Village

By 
  • June 20, 2015

The Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul are striking out on a bold new future that is rooted in a proud past.

A new leadership team of the Kingston, Ont. congregation is initiating a fresh vision that is centred on a project named Providence Village, an initiative to provide long-term care services to the community.

“It’s a hope, a dream that it would be a place in our property using more of our land to provide housing for those who are vulnerable,” said Sr. Sandra Shannon, general superior.

The first phase of the Providence Village project will be to expand the sisters’ motherhouse on Princess Street and turn it into a larger facility for senior residents currently being housed at nearby Providence Manor.

Providence Manor, the congregation’s former motherhouse, was converted in to a long-term care home by Providence Care, a medical health service organization begun by the Providence Sisters.

Providence Care now runs the long-term care home independently from the Sisters of Providence, though there are still sisters living in residency in a convent, adjoined to the building.

Providence Care also runs St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital and the Providence Care Mental Health Services clinic.

When Providence Manor’s licence from the Ontario Ministry of Health expires in 2025, the Manor’s residents will be in need of a new home.

Because of these emotional and historical roots to the building and the organization, Shannon said the congregation decided to reach out and collaborate on this project.

“We’re very, very excited about the possibility of Providence Village because we feel it’ll be a continuation of our mission, after we’re not here,” said Shannon. “We’ve had a major role in (the city of Kingston) in the last 154 years and this will be a way of us continuing to serve the vulnerable into the future, even when we aren’t here.”

The Sisters of Providence has had a long history with the city of Kingston in providing help to the vulnerable. Because they are an aging community, Shannon said the Sisters have moved away from hands-on ministry and towards networking and advocacy.

“Our new vision is a world where the vulnerable experience compassion, justice and peace. I don’t think it’s really new... It’s really what we have been doing since 1861 when we were founded here in Kingston,” said Shannon.

The congregation is currently made up of 66 Canadian sisters and two Peruvian sisters. As their population ages, the sisters are  looking to use this project to ensure long-term care for its members.

There is still much more work to be done before construction begins. Shannon said that for the next six months, they will be working with Providence Care on a master plan feasibility study. For now, Providence Village remains a concept.

The concept for Providence Village was announced on May 13, after the congregation’s 2015 Chapter meeting. The members came together from April 8 to 18 to draft new mission, vision and directional statements to define their new goals moving forward.

The installation Mass for the new leadership team took place on June 14 at the Mary, Mother of Compassion chapel in the Providence Sisters’ motherhouse.

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