November 5, 2021

2021 Vocations Awareness Supplement

Providence sister’s ‘recalculation’ of life journey leads to her vocation

Providence Sister Joni Luna is seen in this 2015 photo enjoying time with students of St. Patrick School in Terre Haute where she was an administrator and teacher at the time. On Aug. 14, she professed perpetual vows as a member of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. (Submitted photo)

Providence Sister Joni Luna is seen in this 2015 photo enjoying time with students of St. Patrick School in Terre Haute where she was an administrator and teacher at the time. On Aug. 14, she professed perpetual vows as a member of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. (Submitted photo)

By Jason Moon (Special to The Criterion)

Prior to becoming a member of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Providence Sister Joni Luna felt lost and began a journey of discovering her true purpose.

“As my GPS says, when I have taken a wrong turn, ‘recalculating,’ ” Sister Joni commented. “I recalculated my path and began to pursue my spirituality, which I had neglectfully left out of my calculations.”

That simple recalculation led Sister Joni to the Sisters of Providence. On Sept. 17, 2012, Sister Joni made real her calling by entering the community of religious sisters in western Indiana. And on Aug. 14, Sister Joni fulfilled her call to the Sisters of Providence by professing final vows with the congregation during a ceremony at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on the community’s motherhouse campus in St. Mary-of-the-Woods.

Prior to her visits to the Sisters of Providence, Sister Joni, a self-described overachiever, was close to reaching her life goals. She had graduated college, began teaching and coaching, moved into an athletic coordinator and vice-principal position and was close to becoming an athletic director or principal.

But Sister Joni admitted getting that close to her life goals scared her.

“I realized that this pursuit included very little practice of what my parents had instilled in me about family, community and faith,” Sister Joni commented. “I was serving myself and it was not feeling good anymore. I found myself lost, spiritually bankrupt if you will. There was a hole that had eroded within me as I chased the corporate ladder. I realized I had it all wrong.”

So, Sister Joni simply “recalculated.” And it worked.

“That’s how I arrived here,” she said. “I had to undergo a makeover, which included shedding old, unuseful ideas that did not serve me spiritually. I had been blinded to my spiritual life, to my heritage, my culture and my roots. This was where my journey began.”

The journey included many visits to St. Mary-of-the-Woods. She attended come-and-see retreats and even became a Providence Associate before she eventually knew she was destined to be a woman religious. Providence Associates are lay people who seek to live out the charism of the Sisters of Providence in their daily lives.

And nine years later, after professing perpetual vows, Sister Joni said she is “beyond words” when it comes to describing the “recalculation” of her journey.

“I overcame my fears of saying the first ‘yes’ and all the little ‘yeses’ in between,” she said. “Through all the good and hard times, I knew one thing: My life was not serving me in a way that was life giving, and I was willing to do whatever it took to find my treasure.”

Sister Joni added she has also spent a significant amount of time in recent years studying her heritage, including her Native American background, which has influenced her greatly.

“White Eagle, a Native American who was chief of the Ponca Indians from 1840 to 1914, said, ‘Never fear your journey ahead, for as God has watched over you all your life … so God will take you through the dark valley into the light.’ I am resolved to follow these ancient teachings and live my life in faith, truth, virtue and goodness as a devoted partner to my Creator.”

Sister Joni spent the past year in what is called tertianship by the Sisters of Providence. It is the final formal period of initial formation.

“We are always welcoming new women who wish to join in our mission,” said Providence Sister Jenny Howard, a member of the order’s leadership. “The purpose of this congregation is to honor Divine Providence and to further God’s loving plans by devoting ourselves to works of love, mercy and justice in service among God’s people.

“We’re very blessed to have new members so that together we can carry forward God’s mission in our world.”
 

(Jason Moon is the media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in St. Mary-of-the-Woods. To learn more about life as a Sister of Providence, go to SistersofProvidence.org or contact vocation director Sister Joni Luna at 361-500-9505 or via e-mail at jluna@spsmw.org.) †

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