Sisters look to future plans

Sr. Sandra Shannon, being shown plans for the new St. Mary’s hospital. The current hospital is on land owned by the Sisters of Providence. Photo courtesy Providence Care.

For the congregation that has ministered in health care, education and social work, and spent years advocating for society’s most vulnerable members, the coming years will carry new challenges.

The Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul have led lives of compassionate service for over 150 years, beginning their mission work in Kingston, Ontario in 1861. Since then, they have founded hospitals and schools across Canada, Central and South America, and supported numerous other social causes, including prison and justice ministries.

Today, there are 75 Sisters remaining and their average age is over 70.

“Like many other religious congregations in North America, we are facing a future where we know our numbers are decreasing,” says Sister Sandra Shannon, General Superior. “Because we know this trend will continue, we have decided to begin conversations about our future while we have the ability to choose our next steps.”

At their August Assembly, the Sisters of Providence initiated a formal long-range planning process that will continue through the coming months and years. The goal of the planning process will be to establish a plan for 2015-2023 that will see the Sisters make decisions about their assets and resources. Their objectives are to ensure they are able to provide for their aging members, as well as to find ways to continue the Congregation’s mission into the future.

“One of our first decisions will be to finalize the next steps for the property currently occupied by Providence Care’s St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital in Kingston,” says Sister Shannon. “We expect to finalize the necessary paperwork so it can be offered for sale in 2015. St. Mary’s has been our property for more than 100 years – this, like many of the decisions ahead, is not easy. We are thankful we can trust in Providence to guide us as we move forward.”

Sister Shannon noted that the St. Mary’s property will not be transferred to new ownership until after the hospital operations have moved in 2017, so that patient care is not affected.

Decisions about the Sisters’ other properties and current ministries, including the Spirituality Centre and the Motherhouse in Kingston will not be made immediately, but as part of the long-range planning. The Sisters will be meeting again in April 2015 to continue these deliberations.