The Daughters of Divine Providence, a religious order founded in Italy in 1832, embarks on a new mission in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico – building an “internata,” a home away from home where village children in first through eighth grade will live while attending the local school.
To help raise money for the project, the local Daughters of Divine Providence – Sisters Barbara Dichiara and Bernardetta D’Archivio – and their 12-member lay affiliates will host an exhibition, silent auction and sale of fine art, “A Gallery of Divine Providence,” Sept. 21, 7- 10 p.m. at Vintage Court in Covington.
Broadcaster Jeff Crouere has signed on as emcee, and the schedule includes music by pianist Karen Sedtal and vocalists Joseph Denone and Mallory Bogle. Sister Lissy Puthanpurackal, the Daughters of Divine Providence superior in Oxkutzcab, Mexico, will be present, give a PowerPoint presentation and speak about the internata.
Variety of artwork
Local artist Terry Sita has been working with the sisters to organize artwork donations from artists near and far. Among the many pieces collected for the event include genuine ivory; paintings and sketches from New Orleans artist Raymond Scully and many others; prints by Randy Caminita, Camille Barnes, Alan Flattmann; icons; handmade jewelry; rosaries; stained glass; china and so much more.
“If you like fine art and fine works, we will have it there,” Sister Barbara said. “We just have a variety. We want the people to come and experience the different artists.”
Special anniversary year
With 2014 marking milestones in the history of the Daughters – the 200th anniversary of the birth of their foundress Mother Elena Bettini; the 20th anniversary of her being named venerable; and the 50th anniversary of the American foundation of the daughters in the United States – a special project for the congregation was in order.
Sister Barbara said the pressing needs of their missionary work in the Yucatan was a perfect fit with their charism of helping educate the poor and improving the lives of children. Major Superior Carmen Perri in Rome rallied around the internata idea, knowing it could help break a cycle of poverty in Mexico, and she called for her fellow sisters worldwide in Italy, India, Poland, the United States and Mexico to do the same.
“This was something badly needed,” Sister Barbara said, with education hit or miss in the Yucatan. “The children do not get adequate education. They are locked in poverty. We want to begin somewhere with a new generation. The kids will be encouraged to continue their education to be able to get a job. If we give them a chance … maybe they can do something with their lives.”
The Daughters who run the internata will facilitate the success of each student in their care by providing necessary food, clothing, school fees, supplies, homework assistance and encouragement to continue their education. The children, in turn, will work as a family to maintain the internata and gain a spiritual and moral foundation from the sisters.
The first phase of the internata – projected to open in 2014 – will help 50 children and countless villagers who will work at the internata.
The Daughters of Divine Providence have been in the Yucatan in Progresso and Oxkutzcab, Mexico, since 1993, Sister Barbara said. Nine sisters serve three communities, tending to the physical and spiritual needs of villagers by working in parishes, helping priests, preparing catechists and people to work in liturgy, teaching catechism, preparing Catholics for their sacraments, doing outreach in neighborhoods and tending to the medical needs with volunteers through a dispensary and clinic. Sisters Barbara and Bernardetta held a similar fund raiser, raffling an autographed Saints football to help the dispensary.
Sister Barbara considers the exhibition and sale a community sharing of giving and receiving, an evening of fine art and good food where participants can “truly feel they are doing something for themselves but also for others. Hopefully, that is an incentive to move people to come and participate. … I want whatever Divine Providence is going to move the hearts and minds of many good people.”
She, Sister Bernardetta and the laity consider the exhibition a way they can help the overall mission of the Daughters of Divine Providence. They have been praying a Divine Providence novena for its success.
“This is a large project, and we are part of the congregation and need to help,” Sister Barbara said. “We put it in the hands of providence and the hands of God and his mother, Our Lady of Divine Providence, to move people.”
To learn more about the auction, visit www.galleryofdivineprovidence.com, call (985) 809-8854 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can be mailed to Daughters of Divine Providence, 74684 Airport Road, Covington, LA 70435.
Christine Bordelon can be reached at email@example.com.