Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sr. Nicolette Etienne's Vocation Story

I can’t remember a time that I didn’t love God. I was born December 7, 1961 to Paul and Kay Etienne in Tell City, Indiana. I was the fourth child of six children. However, I was the first daughter. Four brothers surrounded me. It was no wonder that I was a tomboy from day one! My younger sister didn’t come along for seven years more. Because I was born between the Feast of St. Nicholas and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, my parents named me Mary Nicolette. Everyone called me by my second name…most called me Nicol. Tell City is located on the Ohio River at the southern part of Indiana. Some would call Tell City a small river town. For me, Tell City is the place I discovered and fell in love with God. There is so much natural beauty and evidence of God’s loving presence everywhere you turn in Perry County.

I was blest with a family deeply rooted in the Catholic faith. I went to St. Paul Catholic Church and Grade School. I started first grade in 1968. St. Paul was blest to have Benedictine Sisters, as well as wonderful lay men and women teaching in their school. We had extraordinary priests in our parish that along with my grandparents, parents and teachers shaped and molded my faith and love for God.


I was in the third grade when I first heard God's voice calling me to be a teacher. Third grade was a very difficult grade for me. I developed a nervous stomach and tried every avenue I could to stay home. My parents saw right through me and encouraged me everyday to give school a try. It was that life experience that I knew, without a doubt, God wanted me to be a teacher. Both Grandpa Etienne and my Aunt Kathy were teachers. I knew I could be a teacher and also be married. My Aunt, Sr. Jeanne Voges, was a teacher. So, I also knew I could be a teacher and a Benedictine Nun like my Aunt, Sr. Jeanne. As a nine year old it really didn’t matter to me whether I was going to be a nun or a married person. I just wanted to be a teacher.

As I continued to grow and mature, the idea of being a teacher never left my mind or heart. The only thing that really fluctuated was whether God wanted me to be a nun or a married person. God’s voice wasn’t as clear in that area as it was in the call to be a teacher. I dated every now and then in high school. I enjoyed hanging out with my friends. I worked in a jewelry store where I was surrounded by beautiful jewelry…especially diamond rings. I used to try the rings on and daydream about the type of ring my future husband would surprise me with. Most of the guys I dated in high school were really just good friends. However, at the end of my senior year in high school, I fell head over heels in love with a guy whom I thought would someday be my husband. We eventually ended up at the same college studying to become teachers. In my mind, it was the perfect scenario. We would both be teachers and raise our children in the Catholic faith. We dated my entire time at college. As graduation grew closer my desire to get married grew weaker. We soon grew apart and went our separate ways.

My first teaching job was at St. Anthony Catholic School in Clarksville, Indiana. Believe it or not, I landed a job as a 3rd grade teacher! The grade I was in when I first felt the call to be a teacher. My principal was a Benedictine Sister from Our Lady of Grace Monastery, Sr. Rachel Best, OSB. Sr. Karen Byerley, another Benedictine Sister taught in the same school. Soon, I was spending more and more time with the Sisters and less and less time looking for my future husband. I started attending vocation retreats at Our Lady of Grace Monastery, Beech Grove, Indiana. Two years later, July 31, 1986, I entered Our Lady of Grace Monastery. What a journey this life has been! My ministries have included being a teacher, principal and vocation director. I’ve never lost my love for teaching. In fact, thanks to the many Sisters in my community who are either teaching now or have taught for many years in the past, I’ve only deepened my love for teaching and my teaching skills.

We all have the vocation in life to love God and serve God’s people. If you take time to talk to God every single day, you will hear God’s voice telling you how you are to love and serve God. I can’t imagine loving anyone more deeply than the way I love my God. I’m thankful for my Benedictine Community who strives daily to seek the face of God through prayer, work and hospitality.

Just a little side note, some people believe my vocation as a Benedictine Sister is part of my family business. Three of my brothers are priests! This picture was taken at my brother, Zach’s, Ordination. In the picture from left to right is Fr. Bernie, Sr. Nicolette, Fr. Zach and Fr. Paul. It’s great to have siblings in the same line of work. We have a built in support group! Someday I’ll share the story of just how my parents decided to get married and what my mother prayed for when she visited Our Lady of Lourdes!

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a good looking family - especially the much younger priest wearing the vest...

Father "Z"

Anonymous said...

I agree with Father "Z" that this is a good looking family...and beautiful on the inside as well! Thank you for sharing your story and for always sharing your love for God in all you do! You truly are our NIC-me-up at HNS! Smiles, G

Anonymous said...

Sister Nicolette,
Thanks for sharing your vocation story. Your model of how you live your baptismal call is inspiring to all that have been priviliged to know you.
Love,
Linda

Anonymous said...

SN,
God is glorified in all you do! Keep up the good work!
JPIII
"then I saw one set of footprints"

Sister Kimberly said...

Sister Nicol!
This is terrific!
Thanks for sharing your story!
Hope to see you soon, say like in the next five years!
I sent you an email, need an assist let me know if you got it!
Your mail tends to bounce on me!
Love ya!
KR

Anonymous said...

Hello Sister Nicolette,
Just wanted you to know that i love the picture!! It is truly showing all of the love that God gives us. I will always remeber,

So that in all things...
God may be glorified!

Sherri said...

I really love the picture, Nicol!

I never knew the story of 3rd grade. Coincidentally, 3rd grade was when I knew you and I would be friends for life.

One of my most vivid memories of grade school is when in 3rd grade, Julie H. stole my Chinese jump rope. You know we weren't spoiled and neither of our families were well to do, so I knew I would not get another one. I told you with a tear in my eye that Julie denied having it eventhough I saw her with it.

You promptly went over to her and told her that stealing was breaking a commandment, and you had four big brothers that would be coming to get Sherri's Chinese jump rope from her if she didn't give it back. Magically, the next day it was in my desk.

I still smile when I think of that.

Love you always,

Sherri

Anonymous said...

Sister Nicolette,
Thank you for sharing you vocation story. Thank you for following God's calling. You are are a great example of a life that is lived to love God and Neighbor. I count myself lucky to be journeying with you and am blessed that you are my vocation director!
HJF

Anonymous said...

dear sister nicolette,
that is a really good story!!! i love hearing about people's childhood


kristen

Anonymous said...

HI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!-MIA ROJAS☺ have a good day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!☺

Anonymous said...

ihola! have a terrific day






kRiStEn

Joan said...

Thanks for sharing your story-and your life.

Joan

Anonymous said...

It must have been hard living with 4 brothers. Thanks for sharing your story. I wish I knew what god wanted me to be.

Colin C.

Anonymous said...

Whoops! I didn't capitalize God. Sorry!

Colin C.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy that you chose to be a nun if not you problably wouldn'tbe my teacher and that would be very very very very very very very very very very bad



Jaylen m

Anonymous said...

This story WONDERFUL!
AWESOME!!!!!!!!(>'.'<)
Good job on telling your story


Noah.S

Anonymous said...

your story is the best i love learning about people and their work with God. (<'.'>) :)

Anonymous said...

Sister Nicolette keep on tell your story soon you will be a legend! :)
Lexi.M

Anonymous said...

Your story was so amazing it was the best, i love hearing how you got to become a nun it is so awesome that you were named between the feats of saint Nicholas and the feats of the immaculate conception

Hannah B.

Anonymous said...

I loved that brief story of your life because it involved God, feelings, and family.
TERREFIC*;]*[:* YOU ARE #1

Elliott M.

Anonymous said...

Your life long drean came true.It sounds like a fun life with your brothers:}


Austin.B

Anonymous said...

I loved it. It was awesome. You rock. That is so cool that you were born in between the feast of st.nickolas and the feast of the immaculate conception which is my moms birthday. God Bless You Sister Nicolette.

-Sara C.

Anonymous said...

way to go keep telling your
story Lexi.M

Anonymous said...

Your story was awsome. It must have been hard living with 4 older brothers. Now i know why you are a Vocation Director. :) >'.'<

Mark Bowles

Anonymous said...

I thought she did a wonderful job writing. She had some very creative paragraphs.
Matthew D.

Anonymous said...

Your family is beautiful just like you

Anonymous said...

i think your vocation is amasing



see you tomarow

from
C-Little

Anonymous said...

u wer so cute as a little kid

Anonymous said...

Veryyyyy nice. =] and very inspiring!
great writing

I loved it.

from maddie l.

Anonymous said...

this was inspiring .
cute pic. great writingt

very niceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! [:

Anonymous said...

This is awesome.

Anonymous said...

That was cool!!!

T
B

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting story. It's interesting how you went from very confident that you'd get married, to wanting to become a nun. It was what God wanted you to do and you answered the call.

Chirs B.

Anonymous said...

This story is very touching. Funny how you were born between the feast of St. Nicolas and the feast of the Immaculate Conception and you last name is Nicolette (Nico+late=Nicolette) some day I would like to visit the place were you grew up so I could see the beauty you saw.

Sincerly,
Robert M.

Anonymous said...

Sister Nicolette,

I wish when I was born and also at the young age that I could of had the Priests and influences you had but , atleast I have them now . I can say with pride that your one of my biggest influences( a very good one) and I appreciate you taking time out of your life to bring us closer to God. If I wasn't taking religion and learning and loving God ,I dont where I would be. Your story Some what reminds myself of me. I know and am proud to be a TomBoy . I love sports and I really dont like being girly. I hate dressing up. I can tell on the dress up days and the Picture days when I come in w/ a nice shirt on and jeans or cackies and everyone elese has dresses and really nice clothes on. I just don't see the point and I never will. Im who God made me to be and I will never change!

Continue to write and I will read,
Maressa h.

Anonymous said...

I love the vocation story. You made it sound so easy to figure out what you were called to be. (I hope it's that easy for me!)

-M.P.

Anonymous said...

This is cool. I think it is cool that you heard the calling in the third grade. Very cool.



Fred D.

P.S. God dominates life

Anonymous said...

That was a cool story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From:k.k

Anonymous said...

This is great. I never knew that you liked to teach that much.

Anonymous said...

that story was very inspirational.

BrAnDoN
StUcKeY
p.s. God dominates life and all the above.

Anonymous said...

that is a great comment maressa I understand what you are saying God doesnt look at what you look like he looks at whats inside. I love how you are so self righteous and dont care what other people think. God is love and GOd loves you

Allie M.

Anonymous said...

I thought what you said about your life was great. to me when you were talking about being married or becoming a nun i thought you picked the right thing to do. for me i am going to become a lawyer or working at starbucks or somting for me i might not become a brother but it sounds good. but i'm not really interested in being a brother.
but i will still love and serve god for all eternity.

sincerley,
Joseph F.

P.S
but i will still go out and love and serve god and i know you will to. May god bless you ;].

MrsWebster said...

As a child in your first grade class at St Anthony's I can confidently say that you are an AMAZING teacher. We were so fortunate to have you. I remember crying when I found out you were leaving St Anthony's.

I was happy you were on Facebook and missed you so that led me to find you elsewhere. I loved your vocation story. Thank you so much for sharing it!

Tina (McHugh) Webster

MrsWebster said...

Oops! I meant your first "THIRD" grade class! *doh!*