Sister Marie-Claire Soucy, SP, who was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, U.S.A., entered the sisters of Providence in 1961 after completing her nursing studies. Soon after her profession, Sister Marie-Claire and three other Sisters of Providence went to Cuernavaca, Mexico, to study Spanish. Without having made her perpetual vows, she left for her first mission assignment in Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina. Today, after spending years of ministry in Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, the United States and Chile, Sister Marie-Claire is serving in a clinic in the northern region of Haiti. When she came to Montreal to celebrate her 50th anniversary of religious life, she shared frankly and, at the same time with a deep humanity, her vision of the SP mission.
Initially, when I arrive in a new mission country, I find it is essential to open myself and become familiar with the language and culture of those who welcome me. Missionary work brings us to adapt to any circumstance. I am a nurse and, according to my life experience, the local people have confidence in nurses. Perhaps this is because we have already lived some very moving, profound moments in mission lands.
Yet, despite all our good will, we missionaries, remain fragile in one area: we need to recognize that we never know in advance how we will succeed in adapting to "newness", and how we will succeed in striking a balance in our ministry in a foreign country. This is why, from the very beginning, inter-community dialogue and communication between members of a community must be fluid and transparent. Once this base is established, the new missionaries are stronger and at the same time more serene and better balanced in order to carry out their work.
In the light of my experience, I can say that of all the ministries that I have had the privilege of carrying out, the one that has given me the greatest joy is that of nursing. This is because I believe that to serve people in the most precious gift that they have, their health, is a blessing from God.
The Sisters of Providence - An international community
When I accepted to go to Haiti, I was aware that, as a Sister of Providence, we are called to reach out to those who are most in need. It was reassuring to me because I love that we, the Sisters of Providence, will be there, present with the most simple of people. I can concretely feel the people's trust when I work with them. This is why I feel so privileged because it is our mission to reach out to those who most need us.
Even if we are an international community, it takes a special grace to be a missionary. There is considerable effort involved and without faith and trust, we cannot do it. While we are adjusting to the reality of the place and reaching out to our brothers and sisters in need, at the same time we must give them the tools they need to develop and become independent.
The future of the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence
In my opinion, the community will not die out. The membership will decrease, it is clear, and those sisters who follow after us will not be like us. The community will be there, alive and well, but it will be different from what we have known. Actually, what we experience in the mission field today is already quite different from what we find when we return to our respective provinces. We need to continue to adjust if we wish carry out our primary mission, that of being where the poor are."