"Wind Beneath My Wings" Sr. Catherine Taberski My first invitation to the Religious Life began in elementary school. One day a missionary sister visited our classroom. She was young, beautiful and dressed in a white habit. She happily shared her experience of serving in the missions. She had actually served in several countries as a medical person assisting people who suffered from various diseases. Her happiness stayed with me for a long time. I remember thinking that she had a wind beneath her wings that carried her along. Years passed and I attended Mount St. Mary High School where I met the Sisters of St. Mary, who were a very dedicated faculty. My years there were very happy ones filled with learning, good friends, interesting service projects. Under the Sisters' direction, I tutored Spanish speaking children in Lackawanna, N.Y. and gave religious instructions in my home parish. In my senior year, right before graduation, I decided that I wanted to give religious life a try. It seemed to be a wonderful way to serve other people. My early years with the Sisters brought many discoveries about God into my life. The mystery of God and the humanity of Jesus were real insights for my spirituality. I had never realized how close to us God was and how utterly beautiful God is. I slowly realized how all things find their connection in God and, through God, we are connected with every created being. These basic truths found further development when I studied for my Masters in Religious Education at Catholic University in Washington, DC. The internationality of the Sisters of St. Mary further deepened my religious life. I've had the opportunity to participate in international youth projects run by our Sisters in Mexico City and in Taize, France. Both experiences brought me into contact with people of different cultures and languages and a deeper sense of the wonderful diversity of people and our common bonding in the God of love. Recently I was able to join other Sisters of St. Mary in a two week service project in New Orleans where I had the opportunity to tutor adults and work in various recovery projects in the city. Today, I am the Director of Religious Education in a parish in Buffalo, N.Y. where I am enjoying meeting many new children, teenagers and parents who show me another face of the mystery of God. It is exciting to facilitate the growth of a Religion Program for families who seek to know and love God in very challenging times. Who knows what further opportunities I will have as a Sister of St. Mary? I look forward to the new ways of becoming a part of the wonderful humanity that God has created! I treasure my life as a Sister of St. Mary in which I am able to know, love and serve so many people. What makes this all possible is that God is the Wind beneath my wings.
Sister Patricia Brady
As I was journeying through elementary school and high school, there were many things I wanted to be in life, namely either a foreign correspondent or a veterinarian. Now that seems strange to me as I reflect on it because I used to get homesick when I stayed overnight at my aunt and uncle's cottage in Canada, and I didn't do too well handling animal suffering at the time. However, weaving its way in and out of those life choices was another one that was quite different from the two mentioned. On and off I thought about becoming a sister. I had sisters in both elementary and high school, but it was especially when I was at Mt. St. Mary Academy that the desire to become one of the sisters kept grabbing hold of my thoughts. I loved being with the Sisters of St. Mary. I loved how they were with one another, and I was struck by the joyful and sometimes playful interaction of one with the other. So, eventually my journey ended up with my entering the convent when I graduated from high school. This happened with the great help of St. Jude, I know, because this patron of impossible cases was instrumental in helping me get the permission of my parents who were not crazy about the idea at the time. Afterwards, they were crazy about all of the sisters. My religious life has taken me on a worldwide journey with God and so many wonderful people. After graduating from Catholic University and teaching 7th and 8th grade for 5 years, I went to Africa to become a missionary. Talking about 10 years in Africa (Congo, Rwanda, Cameroon), and then 8 years in Brazil would make you fall asleep at the computer from such lengthy reading, so I'll try to resume 18 years in a few sentences. I was so blessed to have been able to spend those years in such amazing and enriching places with so many wonderful people. When I think of those countries I don't see words, I see faces, the faces of young people I taught, people I sang with, people who heard my talks and shared the Word of God with me. Those years were not always easy but they were rich with meaning and blessing and sisters I got to know from all over the world. The call of God is always such a mysterious call. It can't really be explained because it's heard with the heart and answered with the heart. All I know is that one day God called to my heart and I heard. The desire to live and pray and work with other sisters in community became a desire that wouldn't let go of ... to this day. So, I hope and pray that other women may hear this call and answer it and see that the Sisters of St. Mary would be an amazing group of women with whom sharing life would be a blessing.
Sister Rosemary Riggie, SSMN
I grew up in the 50's and was always interested in Church. Even though I didn't go to a Catholic grade school, I have very vivid memories of Church and images in the Church.
But, when it came time for high school my mother really wanted me to go to Mount St. Mary Academy. I had only one question, "Do they have a swimming pool?" She said no, and that settled it. I couldn't swim and hated having to take swimming classes in the public school, so this sounded wonderful to me!
I wasn't at Mount St. Mary long before I fell in love with the Sisters and the whole place. I wasn't aware of it at the time in any conscious way, but one thing that I experienced right away was that here there were strong, happy, loving women. No woman at MSM had to take a second place to a man. We did everything without even thinking about it!
The Sisters exposed us to so much - through God's Peace Corp I experienced living and working with the poor, and with our trips to Mount Saviour Monastery experienced the monastic life.
By the time I graduated from MSM I knew that I needed to get away from it for awhile (I was just about living there!). I needed to test the waters elsewhere and see if I really had a religious vocation.
Well, six years later it was revived in me and I had a "mystical moment of enthusiasm" in which I finally said "yes."
It's now been 32 years since then, and it's been good. Religious life has given me a way of life in which I can both love and serve. And it has provided me with endless opportunities for growth - educational, ministerial,
as well as personal. Religious life calls forth a great deal of reflection.
I've had the opportunity to travel to Belgium (where we were founded) on several occasions for international meetings with our Sisters from all over the world. Those meetings have been one of the many highlights of my life.
I feel very privileged to be able to say that
I'm a Sister of St. Mary!
Sister Rosemary Riggie
Sister Barbara Riter
Sister Barbara Riter, SSM Did you ever have a sense of something inside of you calling you on? Did you ever feel that there is more to life than what you are experiencing now? During my teen age years, I had that feeling of an inner call in my life especially as I thought of a career or what I would study in college. I received a good elementary and high school education but I remember sensing a difference between the lay teachers and the religious women who taught me. The lay teachers were great in their professionalism and their ability to impart knowledge. However, the religious women had a sense of peace about them which I desired. During my high school days I was given the opportunity to know a number of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur personally. I visited other religious communities but felt most at home with the Sisters of St. Mary. I remember enjoying myself with my friends and dating, but at the same time I was praying to discern better the call from God as to what I was supposed to do with my life. Little by little, I responded to the attraction of religious life and entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Mary. I did not fully understand and probably still do not fully understand this journey with God. I do know, however, that I have had a sense of peace and joy in my life with the others. Life's journey changes everyone in this world and I know that I have been changed on my journey! I know that God walks with me and sustains me with the love and tenderness of my Sister-companions on the journey. I pray that God who began this good work in us will bring it to completion.
Sr. Jeanette Schregel, SSMN
Each of us has a privileged and unique journey to travel in our lives, and we're not alone as we are traveling.
God and those we know are with us and are a part of this pathway to fullness of life with God. It is a calling...a vocation.
Prayer and the Word of God were always important to me, as well as the God I saw in creation. (You see, I'm a farm girl ! )
For me, life was always very busy as I worked, went to public school, went to college, and graduated with a degree in music education from Crane School of Music in Potsdam. My hopes were to become a teacher, get married...and have lots of kids. I thought that 20 would be great... but it was a bit unrealistic!!!!!
While on a date and during a Neumann Club Meeting that I went to during my Junior year in college, I had a deep religious experience in which God was asking me to become a religious Sister. This was so completely unexpected... because it was not part of my plan for my life. I told God to wait...I wanted to graduate first.
After graduation I put God "on hold". I began teaching music in a public school in WNY. God continued to "call" and after three years of teaching, I just had to listen to God. (My male friend tried to convince me that I was wasting my life!) So I went to our parish priest who listened to my story, and after several months said that he thought that I did have a vocation to religious life. The problem was that I didn't know any Sisters or Orders ! ...so I went "convent shopping". Father set up a list of places where I might go and meet a Sister because each Order does have a different charism (or flavor). After the third try, I knew that SSMN was where I belonged. On Sept. 8, 1963 I entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Mary, a small international Congregation whose concern is for God's poor,
Yes, that's a long time ago. But it's not really. Life has flown by so quickly!
My life has taken me to many places, to know many people and to be blessed each and every day in my ministry in the Church as a teacher and as a religious. I'm blessed to be a Sister of St. Mary.
My strong suggestion to you is to listen, and to listen well. Keep your eyes and ears open so that you might know how God is calling you to travel to the fullness of life. It just might be a complete surprise!
My prayers for you.
Sister Jeannette Schregel
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221