Meet Sister Madonna Schmitt


S. Madonna Schmitt

Sister Madonna Schmitt’s Vocation Story:

“Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly of this world—and the things that are not—to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one may boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus… .” (1 Cor. 1:26-30)

In 2010, Sister Cordula Walker peacefully went to God. Sister arrived on the shores of America in 1934 and was the last of our Swiss-born Sisters to die. She lived a full life of 97 years, and her death marked the end of an era. When I entered religious life, there were almost 200 German and Swiss-born Sisters in our community.

Reflecting on Sister’s response to God’s call makes me mindful of God’s invitation to me. Sister Cordula left her homeland to come to this foreign, barren land of Dakota. She left a familiar culture and a country dear to her heart for the unknown. She came, she saw, she stayed.

My response to God’s invitation was somewhat less traumatic. I heard that tiny voice of God when I was very young. Four of my father’s siblings, a priest, a Xaverian Brother, and two Benedictine Sisters were frequent guests in our home. Our family was surrounded by men and women religious of various orders in my little hamlet of Epiphany, SD. As children we were nurtured in a deeply faith-filled home under the guidance of parents, who displayed their affection for each other and who parented with gentle but firm discipline. On my 14th birthday, my parents, along with my paternal grandmother and two sibling, brought me to the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Yankton. At that time in history, convent life (for an aspirant) closely resembled a boarding school. Although I was one of many who were my age, I had not anticipated the terrible pang of homesickness. For all practical purposes, I might as well have left my homeland across the ocean even though home was only eighty-five miles away. It was weeks, months, even years, before I came to realize that I was chosen and God’s call was fortified by grace. Even before my final vows of Stability, Fidelity to the Monastic Way of Life and Obedience, I began to live in an awareness of God and with the firm belief that God’s invitation to follow Jesus was a most wonderful gift to me. Because of His call countless persons have touched my life in a way I could never have dreamed. In the year 2016,  I will have walked the way of St. Benedict for seventy years. Mine has been a richly rewarding journey of peaks and valleys, ups and downs, fully cognizant that God is very much in all of it! How I wish that those who are searching God’s plan might take that leap of faith and experience the richness of the GIFT that is mine.

Sister Madonna Schmitt