Daughters of St. Mary of Providence Fund D.C.'s Shrine's Final
On June 5, 2000, the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, an affiliated community with
the INSTITUTE ON RELIGIOUS LIFE, memorialized all the
members of their religious congregation who have ministered in the United States in a
most special way. The community, which consists of 80 sisters in their North American
Province, provided $350,000 to build an oratory in the Basilica of the National Shrine of
the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. This project marked the final stage of
improvements in keeping with the National Shrine's original design.
Over forty community members representing the United States, Canada, Italy, Argentina,
Mexico and Columbia-as well as family members, friends and benefactors-joined Chicago's
Auxiliary Bishop Thad J. Jakubowski for a concelebrated Mass in the Crypt Church, and
the Blessing of the Oratory which followed immediately thereafter (see photo below on
The new oratory is located at the west entrance of the Basilica's Memorial Hall. The walls
of the oratory are covered in Botticino-Classico marble, from the Brescia region of
northern Italy. The more than life-size statue of the Madonna and Child is surrounded by
a semicircle of rose-colored marble and flanked by two ceiling-high pillars, also of marble.
On the statue's marble base is inscribed a simple, yet powerful prayer for all to recite:
"Mother of Divine Providence, hear, aid and console our communities and
A Portuguese limestone statue is the centerpiece of the Mother of Divine
Providence Oratory, located at the west entrance to the Basilica's Crypt level.
At the base of the sculpture by Theodore Barbarossa is an invocation to Mary:
"Hear, Aid and Console our Community and our Families."
Sisters of Mary of Divine Providence of the North American Communities donated
the oratory to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Mother Angela Cettini's
religious profession. This oratory is a memorial to the community members who
have ministered in the United States among the poor and needy. Bishop Thad
Jakubowski dedicated the oratory June 5, 2000.
Origins of this Marian Devotion
Devotion to Our Lady under this particular title originated with the Daughter's Founder,
Blessed Aloysius Guanella. Fr. Guanella often prayed to Mary as the Mother of Divine
Providence in a parish church in Rome staffed by the Barnabite Fathers. He deeply
desired that the Sisters and the Servants of Charity, their male counterpart, dedicate
themselves and their work with full confidence to Mary's maternal care and loving
protection. This spiritual tradition has continued to this day: the entire month of
November dedicated to her and each Saturday the votive Mass of the Mother of Divine
Providence is celebrated when liturgically permitted.
In November 1976 an agreement was made for "the erection of a statue of Our Lady of
Divine Providence to be placed in the Crypt Church at the entrance of the Confessional
Chapel." This statue was to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Mother Angela
Cettini's religious profession in a special way. Mother Angela was the Congregation's
Superior General for 18 years and had been a member of the North American Community
prior to her being elected Mother General.
After three terms of office she returned to the United States as Superior of the Delegation.
The blessing of the statue was held on August 22, 1979.
Subsequently, the location of Our Lady of Divine Providence was moved; her first home
became the Austrian, Our Lady of Mariazell, side chapel. The next home for Our Lady
initiated a desire in the community to request a permanent and fitting "place of honor" for
their Mother. In 1998, the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence met with Monsignor
Michael Bransfield, Director of the Shrine, to express this desire. It was at this time that
the Oratory of Our Lady of Divine Providence was commissioned.
After the grace-filled dedication, Sr. Bernardine Kauffmann, D.S.M.P., the Provincial
Superior noted: "In memorializing our deceased members, we recall their consecrated lives
dedicated to the Lord's service as religious. This sacred space will forever serve as a
reminder of their many sacrifices and of our call to respond to the physical and spiritual
needs of others, especially those with disabilities. Yet this vocation cannot be lived
without the special assistance of the Mother of Divine Providence who is so good and
generous to us."
Impelled by Christ's Love
The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence work with developmentally disabled children
and adults in school/residential settings; serve senior citizens in apartments for
independent living and/or nursing homes; have a hospital and are engaged in parish work.
Their Founder, Blessed Aloysius Guanella, was greatly impelled by the love of Christ and
spent his entire life and energies for the needy, physically and mentally handicapped,
orphans and aged. The Daughters have been quite supportive of the
INSTITUTE ON RELIGIOUS LIFE. In fact, Mother Angela Cettini, D.S.M.P,
had worked closely with Fr. John Harden, S.J. and others to help found the INSTITUTE. Among the many expressions of support, the original
IRL offices were at their Austin Avenue complex in Chicago from 1974-1990. These
offices were later moved to the present location when additional space was needed due to
growing apostolic needs.
(Credit: Religious Life - Page 5.)
O Mary, Mother of Divine
Providence, you sit as Queen at the right hand of your Son.
You aid the Church in her needs and, with maternal care, provide for the
personal needs of us, her children, who were entrusted to you at the foot of the
Cross by Jesus, our Lord. I implore you to remove from us whatever is harmful,
evil or destructive, and bestow on us only that which is helpful, holy and
loving. I ask you this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Some of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence
with Auxiliary Bishop Thad J. Jakubowski.