Sister Dwina volunteers her time to sort items for the “Angel Bag” program.

With her twinkling eyes and engaging personality, Sister Dwina Marie Towle, SND leaves you smiling for hours. 

Sister Dwina entered the Sisters of Notre Dame in California in 1955.  Her mission included serving as a cook, a teacher, a seamstress, and later, a certified nursing assistant and licensed vocational nurse. Sister’s zest for life and living her call remains central to who she is a Sister of Notre Dame. Now 80, her indefatigable desire to mission continues from the Sisters’ Provincial House in Thousand Oaks. 

“I want to show Christ through myself,” said Sister Dwina. Sister fervently prays for all kinds of intentions, and has a special place in heart for those in hospitals and those suffering from natural disasters.

Sister also continues her mission in other ways, including as part of the “Angel Bag” program. “It’s a way for me to be part of the mission, even though I can’t get out readily,” she said.

During Advent a couple of years ago, the Sisters wanted to do something more to be a compassionate presence to the growing homeless population in Thousand Oaks and nearby cities.  The Sisters decided to make small care packages, or “angel bags,” for the homeless, and they contributed from their personal budgets and by personally shopping for the items needed. Some items, including the actual bags, were donated from outside sources.

The bags include 2 pairs of warm socks, water, granola bars, toiletries and more. The Sisters always add a card letting the recipient know they are praying for him or her. When Sisters leave the Provincial House for work, doctor’s appointments, or elsewhere, they take two bags with them. 

While Sister Dwina no longer drives, her expertise at organizing plays an important role in getting items ready for the Sisters to create the bags. “I volunteered myself,” said Sister, “and I enjoy every minute in being part of the ministry and making it easier for everyone to prepare the bags.” 

The Sisters distribute the bags to people they see who look like they can use a little help. Sister Antoinette Marie Moon, SND, Community Coordinator of the Provincial House, notes that rather than just handing the bags from cars, the Sisters sometimes pull over, and greet the person or persons to whom they are giving the bags. She noted the name “Angel Bags” was confirmed from such encounters, when the people receiving the bags called the Sisters “angels.” 

Because of the grants the Sisters have received from SOAR! over the years, including automatic doors, windows, and upgraded furniture that ensures Sisters in wheelchairs can join in easily at meals, Sisters like Sister Dwina are able to be vibrant and active in their communities and to continue the mission wherever God puts them.