Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Sister Of Providence Receives Scholarship


For a handful of years, Sister of Providence Joni Luna has wanted to better understand her ancestry.

“I have felt God inviting me to embrace my heritage and learn my native language,” she said.

Sister Joni grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and speaks a little Spanish, but never learned to read or write the language. Now, through Providence, she has that chance.

Sister Joni recently received a $5,000 scholarship from “Giving Voice” to travel to Mexico to learn more about the language and her heritage. Giving Voice is an organization based in Dubuque, Iowa, for women religious under the age of 50. According to its website, Giving Voice “creates spaces for younger women religious to give voice to their hopes, dreams and challenges in religious life.”

With these funds, Sister Joni will travel to Oaxaca, Mexico, several times during the year to the Instituto Cultural Spanish Language School.

“The school offers Spanish language and cultural immersion,” she said. “I will be learning to read, write and refine my Spanish tongue. I believe I will be a better servant to all God’s people because of this amazing opportunity to immerse myself in the Mexican culture and reclaim my heritage.”

Sister Joni said she learned about the opportunity through her “Giving Voice” newsletter.

“I read about it and decided to fill out the application,” she said. “The criteria for the scholarship appeared to be written for what I felt God was asking me to do next in my ministry.”

Sister Joni said she was encouraged by the Sisters of Providence who speak Spanish to pursue her education in the Spanish language. By broadening her knowledge of the language, she will enhance her ministry possibilities.

“Learning to speak, read and write Spanish will allow me to be more welcoming to those persons who speak Spanish only,” Sister Joni said.

Currently, Sister Joni ministers as a physical education teacher and head volleyball coach at St. Patrick School in Terre Haute, where the Spanish student population has increased in recent years. The school anticipates more Spanish-speaking students will enroll in the future.

“Having the ability to read and write Spanish will help me to reach out to those in the Hispanic community,” Sister Joni said. “The importance of ministering to those who are unable to communicate in English can open many doors for those in need of life skills.

“I am deeply humbled and filled with gratitude for this generous gift. It is with God’s grace that I embark on this Providential journey of embracing who God created me to be. This has confirmed for me, without a doubt, that Providence is at work. It feels like missing pieces of who I am are being put back together through this generous gift ‘Giving Voice’ has offered.”