Meet Sister Corinne Lemmer
Corinne’s favorite part of the Rule is chapter 72 the good zeal, specifically the line that says “we go together to everlasting life.” S. Corinne says, “It is a consoling piece of the Rule and the most challenging for me because it makes me responsible to and accountable for everybody. This chapter from St. Benedict extends to other people: those with whom I work, whom I meet, my parents, it is everyone. This part of the Rule is important to me because I know I am not alone.”
Reflecting on community life, S. Corinne shares “Living in community challenges me to be present to the sisters I live with, and keeps me in line with my journey with God through the dailiness of the Liturgy of the hours and Mass. Community life also involves rubbing shoulders with people when one would rather not be. Living in community helps challenge me in determining who I am, how I’m responding to others, and how I’m responsible to my relationship with God.”
S. Corinne never had a plan to become a Sister; it was actually people she lived with that brought it to light. S. Corinne and another woman were the first lay employees in the care center at the monastery.
S. Corinne shares “My friends with whom I lived would point out to me after a day of work that I’d share wonderful stories. I got to know a lot of Sisters, who were really neat people, and they became my friends; upon hearing this, a friend asked “when are you going to join?” showing these others recognized something in me that I had not.
After graduating from college, being a Sister was not in my plans so I worked for a year at a hospital in Colorado. There I had the sense I did not like to live alone and that I needed to join a group. Open and looking for options for this need of community, I even looked at the military. It was about this time I started thinking, ‘I wonder’ about religious life.
S. Candyce Chrystal wrote me a letter, which started “listen my daughter I have a way of life to teach you.” That is the beginning of the Rule. After receiving the letter, S. Corinne shares her reaction, “maybe I need to think of religious life.” It was the beginning of her journey which S. Corinne notes “It has not always been easy or a sure journey, but despite the challenging days, I realize that for the most part I am nurtured in my relationship with God, so I keep doing the day in and day out stuff. It has continued to be a good choice.”
How do you see your vocation?
“I see vocation as an evolving process; it is not ever finished. It has to do partly with where I am in the world and partly with my age as I have matured since being a sister in my twenties. Now in my sixties, there has been a lot of change over the years. Both my personal and work life is an evolving process. I’ve learned over the years that a person always keeps growing and changing in life. You may not like the changes, but they are a part of life and often provide pleasant surprises. I’m comfortable with life changes when I remember to relax and let the change happen. There was a part of my life where I would not have done gardening. I love gardening now, digging in the soil, and planting things in the garden.
One example of change comes through teaching. I have learned to relax and believe that principles are more important than the individual pieces of data that students need. I tend to focus more on the big picture and big principles. I find myself much more able to let God be God and not have it be “just this way” of how I want it. I feel like I have a deeper relationship with God than I did when I came. It is a different kind of relationship.
Now I have more of a sense of God being present in everything from sitting down for a meal to being with patients at the hospital. There is a greater sense of thinking about ‘what would Jesus do?’ in different situations and that is something that I have seen grow over the years.” She shares all these factors which have kept her committed to this way of life. S. Corinne’s final remark regarding this topic, “Benedict was a remarkably insightful person in terms of knowing how to create an environment where people lived and grew together.”
S. Corinne shares what excites her about the future of religious life. “Religious life has changed in ways that life in the world has changed, with technology for example. I think that is going to continue. I think religious life in the next 200 years will look different than it does right now. I do not know what it is going to look like, but that is part of being excited for the future.” Another point she mentions “Considering how long Benedictine life has lasted, hundreds and hundreds of years, something that lasts that long has to have something going for it. I hope it is going to continue to evolve as it looks different because the world and its needs will also be different.”
Sister Corinne Lemmer
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