Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
As I reflect on my life, I can see how God uses the events and persons in our lives to speak to us about His call to discipleship.
I was born in Tiffin, Ohio, USA in June of 1944. When I was four years old, a polio epidemic occurred, and I contracted bulbar polio. My first memory is the experience of being in an iron lung, and then I was in a bed in a hospital isolation ward. God answered the many prayers of family and friends, and I recovered without long-term problems.
My mother and father’s ancestors immigrated to America from Germany in the 1800’s, and their
Catholic faith was strong and faithfully practiced. I was educated by Ursuline Sisters in Catholic elementary and high school, and during those years, I became increasingly aware that I had been spared the serious disabilities that befell many polio victims. Visits to the nearby Marian shrines (Shrine of the Sorrowful Mother, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation) gave me the opportunity to give thanks. My gratitude to God gradually grew into a desire to serve God, to offer my life in care of sick people.
In high school, I became interested in medical technology as a career. One day, in April of my senior year of high school, I was reading a Catholic magazine, Sacred Heart Messenger, and I found the addresses of two religious congregations dedicated to health care. In June, after graduating high school, I visited the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis in Springfield, IL, and during that visit, I was amazed to learn about the foundation in Telgte at a shrine of our Sorrowful Mother. I felt very much at home and at peace.
I entered the Community on September 1, 1962, and made vows in 1965. The Community educated me to be a medical technologist, and I graduated from our St. Vincent Hospital School of Medical Technology in Green Bay, Wisconsin. After serving for some time in hospital laboratory, I volunteered to set up a laboratory and X-ray service at Star of the Sea Clinic in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I treasured those years with our Chinese Sisters and the wonderful experience of the universality of the Church. When I returned to the U.S., I spent a short time doing laboratory and catechetical work with the Native American people in Arizona.
As the years passed, fewer Sisters were in the hospitals, and the medical technologists had almost no contact with the patients. At that time, I felt called to a ministry of prayer and spiritual care. After education in clinical pastoral ministry, I served in three hospitals as a certified Catholic pastoral associate, and I am presently in my 16th year ministering at St. John’s Hospital, Springfield, in home health and hospice care. I thank God for the many people I have met as I continue to learn from their courage, faith, and witness. It is a sacred privilege to companion people and to witness God’s presence, grace and providential care in their lives in difficult times as well as the joyful ones.
As for the future, I will continue to trust in God and follow the path that will be before me.