The first annual celebration of National Catholic Sisters Week (celebrated March 18-24, 2014) provided the Office of Consecrated Life with an excellent opportunity to salute our 1400 women religious who serve in 55 congregations in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The ministires of these congregations include teaching, social work, health care, contemplative prayer and pastoral care. Here are just a few of their stories . . .
School Sisters of Notre Dame
Sister Gail Guelker and students Amanda Juegst (left) and Mary Weber (right) attend the Notre Dame Foundation Day Mass at Notre Dame High School.
Sr. Gail Guelker, S.S.N.D.
President, Notre Dame High School
"I chose to become a Sister because of the influence of School Sisters of Notre Dame who shared not only their educational expertise, but their real love of life and their faith. I was blessed to have teachers who built my confidence, challenged me to be my best self and always to share what I had been given with others."
Carmelite Sisters of Trivandrum
Sr. Ruby Devassy (left), Sr. Lissy V. Ouseph and Sr. Priscilla Ferreira display some of their fresh-baked cookies, a favorite of Kenrick-Glennon seminarians!
Sr. Ruby Devassy, C.C.R.
"The charism of our congregation is 'prayer and contemplation in action.' At the seminary, we nourish both the body and spirit of the seminarians. We cook but we also pray for God to bless each one of them and make them good priests. The Carmelite Sisters of Trivandrum work in hospitals, schools, orphanages and many other ministries. I was a teacher first, and I loved teaching. Then I became a registered nurse at a hospital in India for very poor, poor people. Often I would stay with patients through the night. Whenever a patient would die in my arms, I would think, yes, Jesus has called me to do this. I have enjoyed every bit of religious life."
Sr. Priscilla Ferreira, C.C.R.
"When I was in fifth grade, I studied with the Carmelite sisters. One of the sisters, my teacher, would come to my house to collect flowers for the chapel. She was so kind to my family and knew all of us. When I was in eighth grade, I expressed my desire to become a sister, and I considered several different congregations. I decided to become a Carmelite sister in gratitude for all they had taught me. Now, I serve the priests and seminarians where I feel much love and gratitude every day. We pray for them and their vocations, and they pray for us and our families."
Franciscan Sisters of Mary
Sr. Katheen Buchheit on one of her medical mission trips to Guatemala and Belize. Her ministry has included serving as a registered nurse and nurse midwife.
Sr. Kathleen Buchheit, F.S.M.
Director of Mission Integration
"From a very young age, I always knew I wanted to be a sister. My aunt, Sr. Flora, always inspired me. She always made me feel very special, and she had a wonderful sense of humor. Later in high school, I worked at St. Mary’s in the pharmacy. I saw sisters who were very human and happy. I considered that I wanted the same, to be happy and to serve in a healing ministry. Today, I continue to be inspired by my co-workers at SSM Health Care."
Sr. Sherri Coleman currently provides compassionate and healing care through her and Sr. André Evanicsko’s ministry of therapeutic massage, PRISM.
Sherri Coleman, F.S.M.
"As I look back to my teens and early 20s, it’s especially apparent how God guided me to where I was meant to be. It was a time of searching and considering where I fit in life. I felt an openness during this time and experienced new beginnings. After two years of college, I relocated from my hometown to a larger city for a job. God put wonderful people in my life, and I was able to discern with them about my vocation. God provided opportunities and gave me the grace to respond to varied experiences. I sensed that doors were opening that led me to religious life. With support from family and friends, I became more comfortable and peaceful in making the decision to enter a religious congregation."
Daughters of St. Paul
Sr. Cynthia Guza (left) arranges merchandise with Sr. Mary Joan Baldino at Pauline Books and Media, while postulants Putri Mamesah, Julie Turner and Danielle Lussier prepare books for a traveling display.
Sister Cynthia Guza, F.S.P.
Manager, Pauline Books and Media, St. Louis.
“As an eight year old child, I received a Catholic magazine which related the story of St. Theresa of the Little Flower. I felt attracted to her life with God and, when asked in class, I put up my hand (that I was interested). Because of the influence of good reading on me, I understood the power of the written word. In God's providence, I joined the Daughters of St. Paul who dedicate their lives to spreading the Gospel message together with their Sisters, and who seek a life of union with God. Knowing that He lives and acts through us and touches many people through our mission gives me a joy beyond measure. How wonderful it is to be part of something much bigger than myself!”
Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union
Sr. Peggy Moore helps student Jena Brophy with a theology lesson at Ursuline Academy of St. Louis.
Sr. Peggy Moore
Ursuline Academy of St. Louis
“Looking back, what helped me decide to become an Ursuline Sister is the same thing that has helped me continue . . . a sense of the rightness of the choice. I am someone who has always had a longing for more—what’s here is wonderful, but never enough. I think it is part of what drew me to Ursuline life. In this life there is the opportunity to seek and know God more deeply; there is always more of God’s love to experience, and there is the gift of being able to work directly to bring that love into concrete expression in the world. What I remember most clearly from the Ursuline Sisters I knew when I was in high school is the joy I saw in them and their delight in being together. That certainly drew me. As I’ve lived this life I’ve had opportunities to experience both the joy it can bring and the wonderful companionship of dedicated, gifted women. My parents raised me to be a woman of faith, as they were people of faith. That faith, along with their encouragement, was an important part of my decision to be an Ursuline. My family and friends agreed with me that Ursuline life was a good choice, and their support has helped sustain me.”
In addition to ministering in educaiton, Sr. Elisa Ryan (right) has served in leadership for the Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union both regionally and internationally. She currently serves as co-director of vocations with Sr. Jean Hopman (left).
Sr. Elisa Ryan, O.S.U.
Co-Director of Vocations, U.S. Provinces
“Recently a sophomore at Ursuline Academy in Dallas asked, ‘What do you love most about being an Ursuline?’ I could answer immediately—having sisters all over the world. At the Mass for the Feast of St. Angela Merici, our foundress, at our school in St. Louis, candles were lit to represent all who share Angela’s spirit worldwide. We prayed with special concern for our six Ukrainian and 12 Polish Ursulines serving in the Ukraine, for peace for them and the people they serve. My thought was, how blessed we are to be linked to them through Angela. What I really love most, of course, is Jesus. But having been called to follow him in company with the Ursulines means that I have global connections with people I call sisters!”