As we continue in this Year of Consecrated Life, we will be hearing from our sisters. They’ve been invited to share about our Benedictine life. Sister Angeline wrote about our sisters who have been with her in each stage of her call to consecrated life…
I was born and raised in Yankton. The thing that attracted me to the Sisters was the fidelity of the women who influenced my growing up years. So I want to tell their stories as part of my story.
First was Sister Donata Bentele, who delivered me with the help of another sister, at Sacred Heart Hospital, while my father ran around town looking for the family doctor. The Sisters were there for my mother and me. Later, I spent my ninth birthday in the hospital. S. Donata brought a cake with candles to my hospital bed. She did not suggest I become a nun that I remember, but she did tell me that Christ loves me. Donata was born in Germany in 1892 and came to the USA thinking she was going to teach “little Indian children.” Instead she was sent to Tabor to teach “little Bohemian children”. Then she was sent to nurses training and on to anesthesia training. In 1948 she started the school of anesthesia at Sacred Heart Hospital. She was on call 24/7 and loved the work. (This is the anesthesia department that moved to Mount Marty College in 1970 and is now the Master’s program located on the MMC Sioux Falls campus.) After she resigned from the anesthesia department, she worked on the tray line at the hospital, and then retired to the monastery infirmary. She died of cancer after 80 years of cheerful, faithful self-giving, in a career she accepted in obedience.
My second example is Sister Amelia Souhrada. She was the only girl on the school basketball team in grade school in Lesterville. After she graduated from high school IN 1926, she worked on the farm until after the corn was harvested, then her father brought her to the monastery in a model T. She worked 42 years as a nurse in our hospitals and infirmary. She nursed me when I was a baby with pneumonia, and said she saved my life by giving me a spoonful of whiskey when the doctor had given up on me. She lived to celebrate her 75th jubilee as a Benedictine Sister. That’s fidelity! These two faithful ladies gave and preserved my life.
My last example taught me how to live faithfully. Sister Leonard Longen is known nationally because of her calligraphy which still speaks to us from the walls of our dining room and hallways. Her influence on me and my vocation was a statement that she casually made in an English class, “There are many holy elderly sisters in our monastery.” I had been resisting entering religous life because I thought after the inital excitement, it would become boring. I guess I thought once you joined the group, you were automatically holy. Her statement blew that illusion out of the water. I would have to work hard for many years at becoming holy. I would have to be faithful.
So, here I am. I’m 84 years old, and I’m still trying to be faithful, trying to be holy.
Blessings to you,
Return to “One Heart and One Soul”