Sister Madeleine Fetter gives this testimony of her life as a Sister of Divine Providence during an Open House at the motherhouse, St. Jean de Bassel, France.
According to my mother, my call to religious life goes back to my youth; I know she prayed a lot for it. My parents, who were farmers, worked hard and developed a family spirit. I still have a strong attachment to the rural area.
At the age of 12 I left home for school at St. Jean de Bassel where I completed my studies and my formation to become a religious and a teaching sister. Why did I choose the Sisters of St. Jean de Bassel? In my village there were 2 Sister teachers and one Sister nurse. They had a great influence on me. They welcomed me in their community during my summer vacation during my studies and afterward.
By my choice of religious life in the Congregation of Sisters of Divine Providence, I live my consecrated life according to the charism of Providence that our founder, Jean Martin left us. That means according to the spirit of poverty, simplicity, abandonment to Providence and apostolic charity. Sent to various places of ministry, and in community with other Sisters, I try always to discover and to believe in God’s project of love for each person.
I must mention the international aspect of my life in the Congregation. My stay in Rome, 1980-81 and the month spent with our Sisters in the USA in 1989 were rich and unforgettable experiences.
During my teaching years, I tried to carry out the mission of education according to the spirit of Jean-Martin Moyë who was attentive to those who lived in poverty, especially the young girls of the countryside. Attention to those who suffer from poverty and to the slower learners always was a part of me.
Pastoral work allowed me to have contact with other children and youth in sacramental preparation and to meet the mother catechists whom I always encouraged to take their place in the Church. My commitments in the choir, liturgy teams, the workshops I attended and the work on teams contributed to opening my heart, not only to the local Church but to the universal Church.
Now in retirement I consecrate more time to prayer and to spiritual reading and to daily encounters where I spend time listening and giving moral and spiritual support and render small services to the elderly residents of the apartment complex where I live. Many grannies ask me to pray for their family and health concerns.
Several parish activities give me the opportunity to share with lay persons in liturgy and scripture study groups, for example.
Another area of interest for me is families who are seeking asylum. Each Monday I volunteer for 2 hours teaching French. I meet women of various ages, origins and cultures. Sometimes I visit the family, play with the children, help with homework and the paperwork that needs to be done before and after obtaining a residency permit. These contacts enrich me and keep me from aging too quickly!
What can I say of 50 years of consecrated life in the «family» of Sisters of Providence? The Lord has been there; he is always there. Sisters and friends are there and together we continue on. I am sure that God Father and Providence will never fail me.
Sister Madeleine Fetter