Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sr. Heidi Marie Krack's Vocation Story

I was born in Michigan on October 31st. My family later moved to Chicago, while my father attended Optometry School. From there, we proceeded to Bloomington, Indiana, where I spent the major part of my childhood with my parents, my sister and my brother. Upon reflection, I can see how God had been planting the seeds, of a vocation to religious life, throughout my childhood. However, it was not until my junior year in high school, that I was consumed with the desire to serve God as a religious sister. This overwhelming need to answer “God’s call” led me to the Benedictine community at Our Lady of Grace Monastery.

At the time of my entrance, the primary ministry of the sisters was that of teaching. Therefore I followed in the footsteps of the many women, who had been teachers before me. My teaching ministry has provided me with a wealth of experience both in and out of the classroom.

Over the years, I have watched educational programs come and go, however, I am more concerned by the societal and familial changes, which profoundly affect our children today.

As I mark my 34 years in the teaching ministry, I am reminded of a favorite novel by James Hilton, Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Like Mr. Chips, I remember the hundreds of children who have graced my life over the years. I pray that with God’s help, I have given them the spiritual and academic foundation they need, so that in everything they do “God may be glorified.”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sr. Emily Emmert's Vocation Story

Sister Emily Emmert did not have far to travel from her home in Haubstadt, Indiana to enter the community in Ferdinand. But since her entrance in 1942 she has gone many places. She received degrees in education and administration from St. Benedict College and the University of Notre Dame. She began teaching in Huntingburg, Indiana as an elementary school teacher. She then became the Dean of Girls and a teacher at Bishop Chatard High School. After leaving Chatard, she taught at the Latin School in Indianapolis and then became principal at Our Lady of Grace Academy. Prior to her retirement, she taught at Roncalli High School.

Although she loved to be in the classroom with her students, she also loves the time afforded to her at the monastery. Today, Sister Emily can be found praying, reading, visiting with the sisters and enjoying her time as a retired sister.

Sister Emily has given a lifetime of joy to God and continues giving each and every day.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Commentary for the Fourth Week of Advent by Sr. Susan Marie Lindstrom

What is more delightful than this voice of God calling us? See how God, in love, shows us the way of life.

(Prologue of the Rule of St Benedict, v. 19-20)

Our readings this Sunday speak of three people who obviously delighted in the God who called them by name: David, the faithful servant who entrusted his leadership to God’s guidance; Paul, the ardent apostle who entrusted his mission to God’s glory; Mary, the prayerful woman who entrusted her whole being to God’s promise.

The readings for this final Sunday in Advent heighten our anticipation of the coming of God among us. They speak of both hope and promise. They reflect the graciousness of God, a God who pours forth blessing on those who place their confidence in God.

David desires to build a house for God, a fitting dwelling for the Ark of the Covenant. God, however, desires to build a house for David… from David… a living reminder of God’s presence among the Chosen People.

God fulfills that desire, ultimately, as Mary brings Jesus to the world, a living reminder of God’s presence among us, God’s own people.

It is our gospel story of Mary’s “yes” that draws us into a deeper awareness of God’s invitations in our own lives. The angel tells Mary not to fear… not to let the immensity of the promise, the intensity of her feelings or the concerns about how this event will impact her life get in the way of her response. Mary obviously knows God’s providence; she is able to welcome this unexpected event not as an imposition, but as an opportunity to enter into a closer relationship with her God. Surely Mary must have nurtured a prayer life. How else could she possibly have been so open to Gabriel’s news? God, in turn, is ready to nurture God-life within Mary… literally! God simply awaits Mary’s receptivity and trust.

Mary probably did not fully understand what Gabriel was talking about. After all, who of us can adequately articulate the depth and wonder of our own call? Mary questioned Gabriel only because she wondered how her pregnancy would come about. Still, she listened with the ear of her heart and was able to give her “yes” in humility. She was able to embrace Benedict’s teaching, “What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask God to supply by the help of God’s grace.” (Prologue of the Rule of St Benedict, v. 41)

Mary is a woman who models both obedience and availability. Benedict could have been speaking of her in his chapter on obedience when he said, “Such people as these immediately put aside their own concerns, abandon their own will and lay down whatever they have in hand, leaving it unfinished.” (Rule of St. Benedict, chapter 5, verse 7) More than likely, Mary’s plans for her future were dramatically altered by the Incarnation, and yet her journey as the Mother of God taught her much and led her more deeply into the heart of God.

God desires to dwell among us, the people God has created. Advent would be meaningless if there were not people waiting with open hands and hearts to receive the gift of Emmanuel. Let us pray that we, like David and Mary, will let our hearts and beings forever sing of God’s goodness. Let us allow God to nurture life within each of us, especially in this last week of Advent, that Christmas find the Word made flesh enfleshed in our thoughts, words, and actions. May our lives truly magnify our God!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sr. Louise Hoeing's Vocation Story

The invitation to “Come Follow Me” led me to the Monastery Immaculate Conception after my junior year at St. Agnes Academy. I was a little anxious about this step and as we drove up the hill to the monastery I told my Dad that I thought this might be a mistake. He told me to try it for a couple of weeks! Now, after 58 years, I am still seeking God in the Benedictine way of life. This path has given me many opportunities for both spiritual and educational growth. I have been blessed with many meaningful friendships in the Benedictine communities of Ferdinand, Our Lady of Grace, and my places of ministry. As an elementary teacher, I taught at St. Ambrose in Seymour, Indiana, and St. Anthony in Clarksville, Indiana where I also served as principal three years. Ministering at Our Lady of Grace Academy as principal enriched my life with love and friendships and led me to my next ministry as guidance counselor at Bishop Chatard High School where I presently serve. When asked when will I retire, I respond, “when I get it right!” I have been blessed with parents who nurtured my vocation, six brothers and sisters and their spouses, who continue to support my vocation along with numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews who fondly call me “Sis”. I could not have persevered without the support of the communities in my life and I continue to pray for all who have touched my life both living and deceased.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Middle School Students' Haikus for the 3rd Week of Advent

Isaiah had said,

Make straight the way of the Lord,

I will baptize you.

(Maddie - 8th Grade)

I'm not the prophet,

He is coming after me,

Why do you Baptize?

(Megan - 8th Grade)

He who comes, not me,

Is whose sandal is still tied,

More worthy than mine.

(Josh - 8th Grade)

John was sent from God,

Make straight the way of the Lord,

Disciples followed.

(Brandon - 8th Grade)

John is the Baptist,

Was born in Judea and,

Baptized Jesus Christ.

(Tommy - 8th Grade)

A man named John was,

Sent from God to say to us,

Make straight the Lord's Way.

(Bobby - 8th Grade)

Jesus is coming,

Make straight the way of the Lord,

Go now and rejoice.

(John - 8th Grade)

Voice of one crying,

Make straight the way of the Lord,

Are you the prophet?

(Joseph - 8th Grade)

Are you the prophet?

No, I am not the prophet,

I am not worthy.

(Chris - 8th Grade)

"Who are you?" they asked.

My name is John the Baptist.

Why do you Baptize?

Are you a prophet?

No, I am the voice of God.

Make straight the way, please.

(Taylor - 7th Grade)

Oh John the Baptist,

Make straight the way of the Lord,

For He is the light.

(Kristen N. 7th Grade)

The light is not I,

I prepare for the true light,

The light is coming.

(Kristen S. 7th Grade)

I am the one voice,

Crying out in the desert,

Make the way for God.

(Samantha - 7th Grade)

John was a great man,

He has spread the word of God,

To open the path.

(Ben #3 - 7th Grade)

John was sent from God,

Make straight the way of the Lord,

I am not wothy.

The words that he said,

I am the voice of the Lord,

John was baptizing.

(Mitchell - 6th Grade)

I am not the Christ,

I am the Baptist you love,

I was sent from God.

(Alexa - 6th Grade)

People questioned John,

He did not care at all though,

He did it for God.

(Matthew - 6th Grade)

Prepare ye the way,

To testify to the light,

I am not worthy.

(Elliott - 6th Grade)

I am not the Christ,

But I'm preparing for Christ,

So, straighten the path.

(Jaylen - 6th Grade)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sr. Nicolette's Favorite Quote From the Rule of St. Benedict

So that in all things, God may be glorified!

What does it mean to glorify God in all things? Is it possible to give God glory in every breath I take? I entered Our Lady of Grace Monastery on July 31, 1986. Glorifying God has been an ongoing process for me. As I grow older and hopefully, a little more spiritually mature, I find I depend on God more and more and glorifying God is as every breath I take.

I Glorify God When:

  • I wake up in the morning and I remember to say good morning to God before my feet even hit the ground.

  • I respect the early morning silence at the Monastery and share a warm smile with my sisters.

  • When I sit in my room with Scripture and listen to God's word through the practice of Lectio Divina.

  • I take a walk in our grove and see the beautiful nature God created all around me.

  • I welcome my middle school students as they walk into my classroom ready to learn more about their Catholic heritage and the love God has for each of them.

  • I realize how blessed I am to work with so many of God's beautiful children both young and old.

  • I walk the journey with women who are discerning their call to our Benedictine Community.

  • I extend hospitality to everyone I meet.

  • I spend time with others who are on the journey up the mountain to God.

  • A fresh blanket of snow covers our grounds.

  • I have the opportunity to spend time near the ocean.

  • I spend time with the Etienne Family.

  • I join my Sisters for the Divine Office and Liturgy.

  • I have joy and happiness in my heart.

  • I have sorrow and pain in my heart.

  • I have the opportunity to pray during Adoration.

  • I walk into our dining room and see the delicious food that has been prepared for my community.

  • I think of all the men and women who work hard to keep our Monastery, nursing home and retreat center running smoothly.

  • I receive an unexpected...or expected gift or letter in the mail from a loved one.

  • See the sparkle of God's love in one of my sisters' eyes.

  • My sisters gather together to make decisions that will make us holier Benedictine Women.

  • I have the discipline to live a life worthy of my calling.

  • I walk by faith.

I'm on the journey. Sometimes, I run, sometimes I walk while other times I fall. I count on those around me to encourage me and to continuously point the way towards the heart of God. In making a conscious effort to love God and serve God's people I can say I am living the Rule of St. Benedict and glorifying God in all things.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!

—Prayer to St. Nicholas

O good holy Nicholas,
you who brought joy to children,
put in my heart the spirit of childhood
about which the Gospel speaks.
Teach me how to sow
happiness around me. Amen.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sr. Mary Sue Freiberger's vocation story

I’m a country girl from Floyds Knobs, Indiana. My heart still wants to be among the hills and trees and wild animals happily living in the forest in peace and quiet, but God called!

I am a singer of songs. I am a grower of flowers. I am a teacher of teenagers. And, I have been a Benedictine for these 42 years. My life is simple though reality tries to make it complex. I strive to serve God here and now - - forever. My ordinary days are made extraordinary by the sheer fact that God walks with me at every step.
God sings songs to me and I sing them back and share them with any who want to hear. I listen attentively to what God has to say through them and sometimes I cry with joy or sadness.

My country heart has to work in the dirt and help God to bring forth flowers to gladden the senses and the spirit. My garden is open to all creatures so you will see humans, rabbits, squirrels, hummingbirds, bees, ants and wolf spiders - - and it is good.

My students keep me young and give me gray hair! This paradox is always present. How I want each to reach their highest potential and oh, how they want me to go easy on them! But we do learn from each other. I have a Master’s Degree in mathematics but even after 35 years of teaching, I am still learning to see old concepts through the fresh eyes of my students. St. Benedict tells us to listen to the young! Of course he also tells the young to reverence their elders! I’m not sure my students are ready to go that far.

I remember being young with all those possibilities ahead. It was exciting and also fearful. That has given me a life full of adventure and yet it would seem an uneventful life to most. But as each new song is sung and each new flower springs forth from the earth, and each new student appears in my class, I see anew the wonder of God’s creations.

My advice to my students and to all – leave God do the driving and you will have adventures great and small, and you will never get truly lost!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Jesus' December Message

Each month, Anne, a lay apostle, receives a message from Jesus. This is the message for December. To read more about the locutions Anne receives from Jesus and His Blessed Mother click on this link: Direction For Our Times

My dear little apostles, there is so much to be done. You see the need to bring Me to others. You see your brothers and sisters struggling in darkness without Me. If the light is to be brought to them, it will be brought by you. When I say there is much to be done, I am telling you that the world needs your service, it is true. But I am also telling you that there are many things to be done in your soul. You must be committed to changing. Are you prepared to allow Me to make you holy? If you are not prepared to let go of those things that prevent you from progressing in holiness, then you will not advance. If you do not advance, you will move away from me. You will begin to resent Me for the crosses I send to you. You will begin to persuade yourself that perhaps there is an easier way for you, a way that calls for less sacrifice and less commitment. This will not be My plan but your plan. This will be your version of holiness, not Mine. I know that some of the services I ask from you are repugnant to you. I know this and yet I call you into these things anyway. If you reject parts of the work, you will be executing an incomplete plan. I have a big plan. I build on it each day. You are part of that. I need you to listen carefully for My directions and then serve exactly as I am asking. My dear friends, if I cannot instruct and direct you, then who will listen to Me? Who will trust Me to protect humanity? Where is the joy that comes from God's children when they trust their Father in heaven? I tell you that where joy is absent, trust is absent. When a person is humble, he will see that he needs greater trust and he will try to become smaller so that I can become bigger in his life and in his work. I am asking you to do that. Be humble. Allow Me, Jesus, to be your King. My kingdom was not of this world. Your Kingdom is not of this world. You will be rewarded in heaven, My beloved. For now, serve Me, your King, in the way I am asking. This will be the best plan for you and for the world.