Sister Ann Kessler's Vocation Story
My story is probably unique in that I joined the Benedictines to prove that I didn’t have a vocation, that God wasn’t calling me, and that I would leave the community as soon as God and they were satisfied that I wasn’t cut out to be a nun.
At the time I was sure that convent life was not for me. It seems, however, that God had other plans. Some of my former teachers, especially Sister Celestine Comeau, who taught me in 4th, 5th, and 7th grades, kept counseling me even after I had graduated from eight years of elementary school where all my eight teachers were Yankton Benedictine nuns—insisting that she saw the nun in me.
She shared that feeling with Mother Jerome Schmitt who, when she visited the Sisters teaching in Aberdeen, would then call me to visit briefly with her while I was in high school—always encouraging me to consider life as a Benedictine. She had been told, it seems, that I was also very interested in going to college to qualify for teacher certificate.
We talked, and I kept postponing a decision. When I graduated in 1945 and had been offered a scholarship to a Minnesota Catholic college, I knew I had to try out life there, even if briefly—just to prove to others and myself that I didn’t belong. (The community accepted teenagers those days). That was seventy years ago and I’m still here. God and they knew better I guess. I know today that the choice was the right one for me. I have no regrets that I made the choice to remain.
The community and the daily prayer and Mass schedule plus I did get that college and even higher education and spent forty-eight years teaching—the last forty at our college here. I can’t picture my life being so fulfilling elsewhere.
Sister Ann Kessler
Sister Ann Kessler recently completed the revised, updated and reorganized edition of Benedictine Men and Women of Courage: Roots and History, done in collaboration with Dr. Neville Kelly. The first edition, published in 1996, emerged after over 40 years of S. Ann’s study and research concerning Benedictine history. The book is available wherever books are sold and online from the Lean Scholar Press (www.leanscholar.com). Click for a direct link. S. Ann also contributes to the blog www.benedictinehistory.com/blog/
Photo courtesy of the Yankton Press and Dakotan
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