Tell us about your growing up years and family.
I grew up in a small town in Havre, Montana, where we all lived in very small houses. A pump outside was our running water and our bathroom facility was outside. We had a chicken coop. My dad, who worked on the railroad, had (what was to me as a child) a huge garden in the summers. In the winter, he would freeze the area of the garden so we could ice skate. We had a great neighborhood and played outside a lot. One year, when our house got flooded, the five of us siblings had to leave to stay with our grandparents in Minnesota.
Please share a favorite story about your early community service.
Teaching at Annunciation School was a good time. In those days, our second-grade kids still missed their mothers. There were 60 students in my classroom. We didn’t have training, so I prayed to the Holy Spirit to tell me what to do to help students struggling with various issues and learning concerns. One of my students had lived in four foster homes before she was adopted into an abusive home. Her experiences were an awakening to me. I worked for five years teaching 2nd grade, with 60 students per year. When I was transferred to Havre (my hometown), I had only 27 in the classroom. I happened to be there during the year when my brother was serving in Vietnam, which was great timing to be there with my parents. After that, I returned to Annunciation School and then back to Havre, being there when my dad died of cancer. After that, I went to nursing school at Compton College, where there were excellent and strict nursing instructors in the LVN program, returning to Havre as a nurse. I was able to work as a nurse while taking care of my mom, who was experiencing cancer. After she passed away in 1981, I moved to Redwood City to be with more sisters and worked at Our Lady of Fatima Villa. From there, I lived and worked in Redwood City at extended care with the sisters in the convent before moving to Palo Alto to work as a chaplain at a veteran’s center in Palo Alto. I felt comfortable there and stayed for 14 years. I got to go to Lourdes because of the veterans. Being with so many
people passing away, I’ve learned that it is such a blessed time.
Why did you decide to become a sister?
I went to Catholic high school from first grade through high school. During the summer of sixth grade, I started working at the hospital because my 2 sisters were nurses. Being among these sisters of St. Francis, who had moved from Stella Niagara in New York, I knew I wanted to join them. I entered right after high school.
How do you share your Franciscan values and spirituality now?
We do what Francis did. We engage and serve and are present in each other’s lives. We’re sisters, we’re family with everyone, including our staff at the convent. We are one with them.
What would you like us to know about being a Franciscan?
The Sisters opened the hospital here in Santa Maria 80 years ago, the year I was born. It was a blessing to serve at the hospital and with the patients at the new extended care center.
Please share a favorite quote or verse.
Mother Magdalen always said, “God will provide.” I also love a lot of Thomas Merton’s quotes.