Meet Debra Kolecka

S. Debra Kolecka

S. Debra Kolecka

Meet Sister Debra Kolecka

For S. Debra Kolecka the path toward religious life as a Benedictine Sister started first with getting to know the sisters as a nursing student at Mount Marty. “I was attracted to both the prayer and community life. I took various opportunities to partake in Mass and occasionally came for supper.” Sister Debra chose Sacred Heart Monastery after post-graduation after some time of discernment.

Discerning the call to religious life was more certain for S. Debra once she pinpointed her desire. “I had a deep sense within my heart and soul that this was for me. I had come to a comfort level with the idea, and I do not think one commits oneself with something one is not comfortable with.”

Her favorite part of Benedictine life would be partaking in various celebrations and jubilees. It is in taking on the role as meal-coordinator for these celebrations and the “coming-together” that energize her Benedictine hospitality, says S. Debra.

The favorite part of the Rule is pared down to two chapters, 36 (The Sick Brothers) and 72 (The Good Zeal of Monks). Chapter 36 in particular says “Care of the sick must rank above and before all else, so that they may truly be served as Christ.” S. Debra says, “I relate closely to these chapters because they are a part of my ministry, working both in the management of the health needs of our Sisters and in the healthcare governance of Avera.”

Living in community for S. Debra has been beneficial in her life for several reasons. “I find that I feel support of the other community members when we are together at prayer, hearing the voices of the other Sisters around me. In our living together, it is a give and take; at times it is taking with one hand and giving with the other. Being in community helps me be sensitive to the needs of others and more aware of the gifts I can give and share. When a need arises we support each other and this is true for the course of one’s lifetime in community–because we learn so much from our elders.”

In choosing this life there is never a point where one achieves 100% holiness. There is always something more, for example the 12 degrees of humility. One does not suddenly meet an age of enlightenment. It is a life work, until the last breath.

“What excites me about religious life is that there are are still women interested in religious life, and our community is still seeking to go together to God. The world today needs us. I see this when the Monastery has guests; they always comment, ‘What a quiet peaceful place.’ It is who we are and what we do that I hope shines to the greater outside world.”

When she isn’t serving in community or in the Sister’s clinic, or at Avera, you will find her stretching her creativity  playing percussion for the Mount Marty College concert band.

There are more sister stories the next one in the lineup is S. Delores Rush.

Sister Debra Kolecka