Sr. Marilyn Kerber, SNDdeN
100 East Eighth Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
(513) 421-3131 ext. 2865
“Good evening. St. Walburg Monastery.” I gave my usual message when answering the phone.
“Are you taking new members?”
“Well what are the qualifications?”
Taken back by the bluntness of the question I hesitated and then blurted out, “Your best bet is to come and see and we can find out if we would be a good match.”
The brief conversation prompted me to reflect on my own journey. B.C.; that is, Before Convent I enjoyed life, school and all the pleasures of youth. I thought I was on the path to be married. I also prayed, going to daily Mass frequently, being quietly reflective and studying the Gospels with friends. One of my favorite places to pray then, and still is, is flat on my back in bed. So one night I said to Jesus, “I wonder what I’ll be doing next year at this time.” The answer came back, “You’ll be in the convent (monastery).” I was shocked. It was out of the blue.
So the path began, talking to a priest several times, being interviewed by the prioress, being given a date to enter, finally telling my family and friends, not all of whom were happy. I did come to live here and thus began several years of what might be called the engagement period. It was a time of discovery for me and for the members of the community. Needless to say, I did make a life-long commitment. The journey continues. We are a good match.
Sr. Mary Rabe, OSB
Sister Patti Zureick is presently working at Mercy Professional Services as a pastoral counselor. This ministry follows twenty-five years as a kindergarten and first grade teacher at Corryville Catholic, St. Francis Seraph and St. Clement elementary schools. Sr. Patti always enjoyed her encounters with the young students and has many entertaining stories about her days in the teaching field. Toward the end of her teaching career, she began thinking of other ways that she could minister to the young as well as the not-so-young, while at the same time serving the economically poor who had become so much a part of her life. The opportunity presented itself to get a second Master’s degree at the Athenaeum of Ohio and then to enter the counseling field. Sr. Patti presently serves clients of all ages while specializing in counseling work with children.
A native of Cincinnati, Sr. Patti was born into the Jim and Hazel Zureick family in Elmwood and was a member of St. Aloysius Parish. Graduating from St. Charles School in Carthage, Sr. Patti then went on to Our Lady of Angels High School, the University of Cincinnati, Marian University, and Miami University. On October 2 of 1980, she entered the Sisters of St. Francis at Oldenburg, Indiana. Of her decision to enter the Community, Sr. Patti says: “My choice to enter religious life was greatly influenced by my supportive family. My faith life was stretched by the members of my family, especially my two aunts and a cousin who were in the Community. A lifelong desire to serve the poor and to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis also entered into my decision.”
In looking back over her years in ministry, Sr. Patti had this to say: “I learned a lot from my young students, especially concerning simplicity in prayer. Now, as a counselor, I’m aware of God’s presence in each of my clients and am blessed to be part of their journey to healing.”
As a religious woman serving in the Church today, Sr. Patti also accepted the position of being the Vocation Director for the Oldenburg Franciscans. About this added ministry, Sr. Patti remarked: “This is a challenging time in the life of the Church! It’s exciting to be able to share our Community charism and Franciscan values with women who are discerning a call to religious life.”
Sister Claudia Cano: Her ‘yes’ to Mercy is definite
By Amanda LePoire, South Central Communications Department
As a 19-year parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Raymondville, Texas, Claudia Cano met Sister Emily Morgan, a Sister of Mercy, while volunteering with the RCIA program. After working with Sister Emily for a year or two, Sister Emily told Claudia she’d make a great Sister of Mercy. While Claudia laughed about it at the time, Sister Emily’s words stayed with her as her life continued to unfold.
Claudia left Raymondville to accompany the family for which she worked as a nanny. After a few years, she realized that soon, all the family’s children would be in school and she’d have fewer responsibilities. Claudia knew she had to think about her future.
“The idea and interest of religious life came into my discernment. At the time, I didn’t even know what discernment was,” she says.
In 2006, Claudia prayed to God that she’d know her plans by the end of the year. While attending a Catholic Women’s Conference in San Antonio, Texas, that year, she prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, opening herself to the idea of religious life and waiting for a sign. She heard a voice say, “Everything’s going to be OK. Everything’s going to be alright.”
As the oldest of four children, Claudia’s parents planned to leave their house and finances to her when they moved into senior living in the future. This had been a concern for Claudia, but the reassurance she heard during that moment of prayer eased her mind.
Claudia admits it took her six months to “own what happened in that prayer and go to Sister Emily.” Sister Emily was overjoyed and shared information about the mission of the Sisters of Mercy and Catherine McAuley. In her research of religious communities, Mercy had stuck with Claudia.
“I really felt connected to the values,” she says. “I saw Emily’s actions and her passion for what she was doing.”
Claudia entered the South Central Community in July 2008. Today, Sister Claudia is in her second year of first vows and lives “in community” with other Sisters of Mercy in Cincinnati, Ohio, while attending classes full time in the nursing program at Cincinnati State College. She previously volunteered at Mercy Neighborhood Ministry in Cincinnati before realizing she needed to focus on her education.
“It was hard to let go of what ministry meant, but it’s been transformed for me,” she says. “It’s showing compassion in everyday life to the people I meet.”
While adjusting to a different type of ministry, Sister Claudia has found other ways to direct her energy, spending a lot of time in her community’s shared garden. The garden became her sanctuary during the summer.
“I miss getting my hands dirty figuratively, so I was getting them dirty, literally, in the garden,” she says.
Sister Claudia is still deciding what path she will take in her nursing ministry, but she’s considering geriatrics or working in an outreach setting. While she’s not sure what her ministry will look like in the future, she knows that she will be part of Mercy.
“My yes is a definite yes, and even from God my yes was affirmed,” she says.
Program introduces Mother Teresa Students to vocations
That’s the premise behind a program at Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School to introduce students to religious vocations teach them more about religious life. Students from fifth through eighth grades will have the opportunity to discuss religious vocations and meet with men and women religious during quarterly events at the school. The effort is directed by Precious Blood Sister Anne Schulz, the school’s principal, and religion teacher Dacia Daniels.
About 20 students attended the first event last March, which featured Sister Anne and Father Kyle Schnippel, vocations director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Father Kyle explained the process of becoming a priest, the life of a priest and the importance of being open to God’s call.
Sharing his own vocation story, Father Kyle explained that he was in college when he felt a call to the priesthood. At first he didn’t believe it was real, he said, but today he wouldn’t give up his priestly vocation for anything.
Likewise, Sister Anne explained that she first became interested in religious life when she attended a vocations event while in high school. She ended up bringing home a flyer from the Sisters of the Precious Blood and eventually came to the convent.
As part of the evening, students asked questions about religious life. Some of the topics included how a priest becomes pope, the differences between diocesan priests and religious communities, and the meaning of church symbols. Sister Anne also explained the various vocations in the church, including married and single life.
Sharing these stories and talking about religious life can spawn interest in religious life and cause people – especially students – to contemplate their own call, Sister Anne said.
“If they start thinking about it they realize it could be an option for them,” Sister Anne said. “Most of our kids don’t see religious. They hear about them.”
Plans for future events include trips to Mount Saint Mary of the West Seminary in Cincinnati and Salem Heights, the Precious Blood Sisters Motherhouse in Dayton. Members from other religious communities will be invited to speak to the group.
Sister Anne, who has served as vocations director for the Sister of the Precious Blood in the past, came up with the idea for the program. Daniels helped organize it.
“Families are so busy and the fact that we are at a Catholic school means it’s our responsibility to open their eyes to the world of being Catholic. It’s an extension of our role here at the school,” Daniels said. “I think it meant a lot to them to hear Sister’s story. They know she’s a nun, but they don’t understand what her religious life is about.”
Sr. Cecilia Taphorn, CPPS
Sr. Cecilia Taphorn, CPPS, a sister of the Precious Blood. She currently serves on the leadership team of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Dayton, OH and is a daughter of Nativity parish in Cincinnati, OH.
I grew up in Pleasant Ridge and went to Nativity grade school staffed then by the Sisters of Mercy. I think the my religious vocation began when I had a Sister that taught me in the sixth grade and who also taught me piano lessons. She was a very happy and kind person and left a huge impression on me.
After I graduated from eighth grade, I went to Regina High School in Norwood, Ohio, where the Sisters of the Precious Blood taught and lived in the convent attached to the school. I had many wonderful sisters for my classes, but my business teacher had a major influence on me. She, too, was very happy, kind and had a special way of acknowledging me. She went out of her way to talk to me and took an interest in my social life. As far as I can remember she never talked to me about being a sister.
I was a typical teenager. I was active in sports, went to parties, and was having fun. I remember walking to Nativity Church with my mother for daily Mass during Lent and to other devotions at the church. As a family we prayed the rosary each night. I had a feeling that I might have a religious vocation, but I didn’t want to enter the convent.
My mother taught me by her example that unless a person does what God wants, one will never be happy. Of course, I wanted to be happy, so every night in my senior year I prayed, “Lord, help me to want what you want.” I don’t think I ever mentioned to anyone about saying that prayer each night. Yes, God did answer my prayer.
In April of my senior year, after the sisters drove a carful of us girls to visit the Precious Blood Sisters’ motherhouse in Dayton, I knew that I wanted to become a sister. To see the sisters as truly human and happy was of utmost importance to me. Those two qualities assured me that I would not lose my individuality or my joy and love for life.
I entered the community the following August, 1959. In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati I taught at Precious Blood School in Dayton, Ohio from 1969-1971. I also served as the principal of St. Joseph School in Wapakoneta, Ohio from 1971-1978; Bishop Leibold School in Dayton from 1979-1986. Since then I served 18 years as Pastoral Associate at St. Mary Church in the Diocese of Columbus. I have tried to share God’s love in a personal way and to be a caring and life-giving presence. I am very grateful to God for calling me to serve the Church as a Sister of the Precious Blood. They have been not only happy but very rewarding years. I am now serving in a full time leadership team with the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Dayton.
Sr. Carolyn Marie Betsch, CDP
Sr. Carolyn Marie Betsch, CDP is a sister of the Congregation of Divine Providence in Melbourne, KY. She is a daughter of Assumption in Mt. Healthy and is currently serving as Principal of Our Lady Star of the Sea Elementary School in Solomons, MD.
My vocation story started in the grade school where I was taught by the CDPs. Just about every other year, my teacher was one of these mysterious, joyful women whom I admired from a distance.
When I got into the 5th or 6th grade, I started to stop by the church after our Girl Scout meetings. Sometimes the Sisters would be in church with their arms extended in the form of a cross. Later I realized that they were praying. Silently, I felt a connection…
In the Spring of my 8th grade, I joined a group of girls who were going to the convent for a tour. From that introduction, I knew that I wanted to “enter the convent,” even though I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. My prayer in church became “Jesus, I love you. Show me what you want me to do.” It was my mantra.
One evening, I went to my mother in the kitchen and asked her: “Mom, what would you say if I told you that I wanted to enter the convent?” She said: “Talk to your father.” So, I found my dad. He was sitting on his bed, buttoning his shirt for an evening of bowling. I don’t remember what I said to him, but I do remember him saying that he would be proud of me. So the next September 8th, being all of 14 years old I entered the convent. Somehow, I thought being a “Sister” was instantaneous. I didn’t realize then that there would be four years of high school, a year of novitiate, and five or six years of annual profession of vows before the final yes. And even after that “final” yes, I came to realize there is no final yes, just a series of daily “yeses” that constitute and sum up vocation.
Sr. Mary Delrita Glaser, SND
Sr. Mary Delrita Glaser, SND, a Sister of Notre Dame in Covington, KY. Sister Glaser is a native of Cincinnati and a graduate of Notre Dame Academy of Covington, KY.
What’s my story? How did I get where I am??? Well, I am the fourth of five children, born into a loving and actively Christian family. Growing up in Carthage, Ohio, I attended our parish Catholic grade school, St. Charles, and watched my older cousins and then brother and sisters as they dated and eventually married. Life was so full and so interesting – I wanted all of it! As a child might do, I was gathering interesting names for my future children like Anastasia, Cunigunda, Irmgarde, and at the same time, I was planning on being a Sister.
Well, I finished the eighth grade and wanted to go to OLA – Our Lady of the Angels High School – where all my friends and classmates were going. But my parents had another idea. My mother had attended Ursuline Academy on Oak and Reading Roads, and she wanted all her girls to go there too. So I was sent to Ursuline. As much as I fought it, I came to realize it was a blessing. I got into a new group of friends and began to see things a bit differently. This was a real wake-up call from God. He had plans for me, and he needed to get my attention. I needed to listen to him. He got it, and I listened.
During Lent of my freshman year, I made a day of recollection at St. Joseph Heights. I came home with the announcement to my Mom and Dad that I wanted to enter the convent! They were supportive and so, for my sophomore year, I found myself changing schools from Ursuline to Notre Dame Academy in Covington so I could become an Aspirant of Notre Dame. And that was the real beginning of a wonderful walk with God through the years of my life since.
I went through initial formation, taught primary school for a couple years in Ft. Mitchell, Alexandria and Newport. Then I studied nursing at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati and at UK in Lexington. I spent a lot of years taking care of God’s people from the OB nursery at St. Claire Hospital in Morehead, KY to geriatrics at the convent infirmary and at St. Charles Nursing Home in Ft. Wright, with Morehead’s ER and ICU in between.
More recently I heard a new call. I’ve spent the past 16 years in Buseesa, Uganda, East Africa, helping bring God’s love to life through education and whatever else we’re able to do to help the people there.
My ears are open, listening, ready for the next item on God’s agenda. Come with me… it’s a wonderful life!
Sr. Kimberly Porter, OSB
Sr. Kimberly Porter, OSB of the Benedictine Sisters at St. Walburg Monastery in Covington, KY. Sister Porter currently serves as a Children’s Counselor in Cincinnati, OH.
A desire for the peace observed in the Sisters of Charity while on retreat my freshman year in college sparked the question of a call to religious life that would not be silenced. I began to explore the question of religious life to humor God. I figured I would explore religious life briefly and then move on to getting married and having a family of my own. Little did I know that it would lead me on a journey to a Benedictine Monastery in Kentucky.
At the suggestion of a vocation director I made a commitment to volunteer for a year with the Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati to work and live with them as way to minister and become more familiar with religious life. Through the witness of these sisters with whom I lived, worked and interacted I began to see the richness and possibility of religious life and began to realize that the question I was entertaining had moved into a call to be discerned. That year kindled further my desire for prayer, ministry and community. I came to know that I wanted to be able to minister with others in a broader way that I would not be able to on my own.
I entered the Charities believing that this was the community to which I was called. As the next year unfolded I once again found myself with many questions and a restlessness which resembled my initial searching. During this time I was on retreat at a St. Meinrad during which I found myself attracted to Liturgy of the Hours and the Benedictine life. I began to read more about Benedictine life and my questions about my own call to religious life intensified.
In the midst of my questioning I accepted an invitation to dinner and prayers at St. Walburg Monastery. I remember praying I would hate it so that my questions would be silenced and I could continue the path to becoming a Sister of Charity. At evening prayer I found myself filled with a sense of peace as I sat with my questions, confusion and desire to seek God.
After several more visits, prayers, and discernment with both communities I made the decision to leave the Sisters of Charity. That decision is one of the most difficult ones I have made as I chose between two goods. My time with the Charities prepared me to be open to realizing that I am a monastic at heart. It is in the daily rhythm of prayer, ministry and community that God called and continues to call me to dwell. When I first began looking at religious life monastic communities were not in my search as I focused only on apostolic communities. God used my crooked path to unfold the richness of religious life and lead me to where I was called.
As I sit here 18 years after that retreat, 12 years after coming to St. Walburg Monastery my heart is filled with gratitude for the questions and for the experiences which have made me Benedictine by way of Charity. I look forward to the continuing unfolding of seeking God in community.
Sr. JoAnn Jackowski, SFP
Sr. JoAnn Jackowski of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor.
I thought it would be fun!!! More important to me is why I chose to stay.
The question stirs in my heart; but like so many others things that are real, it seemed difficult to explain. I found a clear “naming” of my experience as a consecrated woman in New Wineskins, a book by Sandra Schneiders: The world is full of people who enter into specific lifestyles for a variety of reasons and with varying amounts of intensity. If we look at artists and musicians, we see that some dabble in their arts. They may have taken lessons as a child because they thought they would like it or because their parents wanted them to – only to drop them when they got older. Others found interest in art and pursued it for pleasure. Still others made a career of it because they were good in it. And some special few find a passion for art or music burning within them – and they decide that they don’t want to live without expressing themselves artistically. They would rather paint than eat; they pursue music with their whole being. It is life and breath to them. Their passion becomes so intense that they shape their lives around it: they rise, eat and sleep according to what allows them the best advantage for practice or performance. They live, socialize and schedule time with others who share their passion. Truly, their whole life centers around music – or art. Their love defines them, shapes their life, nourishes their soul and fills their days with a hunger for more.
I have remained a woman in consecrated life for this reason – because deep in the core of my heart, permeating the layers of my soul, is a hunger and thirst to know and love the Holy One. I struggle to understand how, and why, Divine Mystery has entered our world and my life. I wonder about the love of an Unlimited Being who would choose to express itsSelf in Limitation, so that the limited could expand beyond the boundaries that enclose it. I want to grow to the fullness of my capacity and more – growing, reaching out, expanding in each season of my life, even if that means breaking through to a new life like a tree shatters its bark in order to grow in each new season. This passion for Life consumes me; it directs my choices, my daily schedule and my friendships. I choose to remain in community because it is here that I find like-minded women who have also felt that stirring within and want to respond with their whole being. Together, we are energized by the struggle, by the defining and re-defining, by the rhythm of loving and letting go and loving again.
The older I get, the more I realize how little in life is certain – and how little I know about my self and others. I do know this:
- It is God’s call I am responding to by the grace provided by God.
- God loves each of us with an intensity that is beyond belief, beyond comprehension.
And even as I reach to respond to Divine Mystery with a fullness of Love – my feet are planted firmly on earth. My experience of God is rooted in life, and I struggle to live and respond to relationships, service and growth — professionally, personally and spiritually. I make a lot of mistakes and often must endure their consequences. Yet, I have learned that in the tension between the beautiful words and lived reality, there is a place of grace. And the grace for which I pray daily is the grace to be faithful to Love which calls me into Being at each moment.
Sr. Mary Tewes, OSB
Sr. Mary Tewes, OSB, a Benedictine Sister living at St. Walburg Monastery in Villa Hills, KY. She grew up in Crescent Springs, KY as a daughter of St. Joseph parish.
My Mother and Father were very faith filled and faithful Christians, and parents. Reverence and Awe of God and God’s creation were pointed out to us children all the time, especially as we were dependent upon this God for the fruitfulness of the gardens and the poultry business, which we all helped with. Dad would frequently point out the wonders of the variety of seeds, and how they traveled. Mother reminded us of our prayers, and her usual “Don’t forget to bless yourself and say your Hail Mary” saw us out the door to any event.
One of Mother’s 8 sisters was a Franciscan Sister. She would visit on her way in or out of town, and always remembered each of us for our birthdays, and each of her family for their wedding anniversaries with cards or letters. I decided early on that I wanted to do the same for my family when I grew up. When I was about 7 years old she had to go to Frankfort for a meeting and asked if I could be her companion. I was so delighted and felt so special to be asked. At the Capital she introduced me to the Governor on the Capitol steps. You can imagine how I felt. From then on she was my hero. Since she was the director of the School of Nursing at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Covington, I was going to be a nurse. Then, when she was transferred to Kansas City to direct that school of nursing, going out there to be a nurse under her, after I graduated from St. Henry High became my goal.
In grade school, I was taught by Benedictine Sisters at Blessed Sacrament School in Ft. Mitchell. There were a couple of them who really impressed me as such great and understanding women, who encouraged us to take the lead and do things, like preparing the prayer table in the classroom, or leading prayers. In high school, also, some of them really stood out as special and personable. I loved being part of the new Liturgy Committee that Sr. Donna started in my sophomore year. In the fall of my senior year, I was in an auto accident, as I was helping Dad deliver eggs and chickens on the Saturday Poultry Route. My sacroiliac was knocked out of place and I had to be taped up for 8 weeks, and told I could not lift anything for a year. That event changed my plans for becoming a nurse in Kansas City, and I was devastated. On my walks home I would be talking to Jesus and asking, “then what am I supposed to do?” Every Missionary who came to our school that spring to invite our consideration, tempted my curiosity, and made me wonder if this was what I was to be, a missionary like one of them. By the senior retreat I was really in a quandary, and spoke to the retreat director about this. I thought that since I couldn’t be a nurse, maybe I could teach little children, since I was the oldest of our family of 14 at that time. The priest listened and suggested that I might speak with a couple of my Benedictine teachers about this. After all I had been taught by Benedictine Sisters for all my 12 years and loved them, though I did not know much about St. Benedict or the Holy Rule at that time.
So I did speak with 2 of them and they were so welcoming and encouraging. Sr. Clarita, the Principal, planned a trip to St. Walburg Monastery for me to witness the reception of the Novices on July 1, and I was to meet with the Mother Superior. I felt like God heard my cry for help in deciding and I felt very comfortable and relieved of my concern. I took time to attend my second cousins reception as a Precious Blood Sister on August 15th, and I entered the community of Benedictine Sisters the next week, on August 22nd, 1955. My parents, my Aunt Sr. Mary Anthony, and my sisters and brothers have all been very supportive of my call and the new direction of my life. I made my First Profession the same year as my favorite Aunt, Sr. Mary Anthony, SFP made her Silver Jubilee, and she was present for my celebration. That fall when I was teaching the 2nd grade at the grade school I had attended, some of the children ran home and told their parents that “the egg girl was teaching them.” That put a big smile on my face. Later on, when working in the Diocesan Office as Director of Religious Education Programs in our Catholic Schools, I felt like the egg girl, with my car full of textbooks and Audio visual materials peddling them to schools, helping teachers enhance their work of catechesis. And I get asked many times: “How did you become a Sister?”