A life is a tremendous gift and I want to make the most of it for God
I’m Sister Krista von Borstel, I consider myself a CCD Vocation! Today it is known as Religious Education. Picture this, 1965, rural North Central Oregon. Twelve miles south of Grass Valley, 4 miles West of Kent. We were not in the middle of no where but we could see it from where we lived! I was in the third grade when the Sisters came in their long black flowing habits with veils and coifs, which we called “blinders”. I loved what they were doing, spreading the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I exclaimed to my family that I was going to grow up and be a Sister. The Sisters stayed with us several times during the course of our growing up years and it was always exciting for me because I was going to be a Sister! The Sisters loved to ride our horses and it was a sight to remember as they galloped off, black habits flowing in the wind.
God was calling me, inspiring me through these women, at an early age. I was hungering for things of God and desiring to live this life that I knew nothing about except that these women were modeling a way of life that I had not seen before and I liked it.
As I entered high school, I volunteered to teach CCD classes to the first and second graders at our mission church after Mass on Sundays. That church could fit inside this room four times. It had a very small balcony with two pews and an organ. This is where I taught my class and prepared them for the sacraments of Holy Communion and Reconcilliation.
I attended Oregon State University. I was in the Marching Band, joined a sorority, dated, went to house dances, but the idea of becoming a religious gnawed at me continuously! I did not have the correct terminology at the time but I was responding to a call to religious life.
When I was a Junior in college, one of my classes was an independent Psychology class. We would read a book, attend a lecture once a week, then take a midterm and final. I was checking my midterm test on the board outside the building where lectures were held, listed by our social security numbers when who should appear to check her score, but a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon, Sister Maureen. We had a chat, I told her I was interested in religious life, invited her to our sorority for dinner one night and she invited me to a retreat with her community! I began visiting the community, spent time visiting and felt at home with this group of sisters.
During my college years I painted houses in the summer time to pay for my education. By the time I finished I still owed $2,000.00. I received an offer from Boeing to begin a career as a Methods Analyst in Seattle. I was excited. I would work there for a while, pay off my debts then enter religious life later. The company began doing their due diligence, checking my background, and I had the paperwork filled out. I stopped by the convent to let them know what was going on with me and what my plans were. By the time I left the convent that day, I had set an entrance date and was not going to go to work for Boeing! I went home and made preparations to enter the convent. A neighbor friend came over and handed me a check to pay off the balance of my school debt. God cannot be outdone in generosity.
Sometimes we just do what is right in front of us instead of holding out for something better. The first person that shows interest in us for example, instead of waiting for perfect love. I wanted something special in life and I did not want to settle for what was easy.
After I finished college and student teaching, I entered religious life with the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. On February 3, 1980 my family joined me as we were greeted by the Sisters at the Motherhouse in Beaverton. We had dinner together and my family received a tour of the Motherhouse. After visiting, my family prepared to leave and I have to tell you it was difficult for my parents.
They were trying to be happy but at the same time they did not know what to expect. As they prepared to leave, the tears started to flow and fortunately, my older sister, Karen wished me luck and said I’ll give you two weeks. Everyone laughed and that broke the ice! It did not take long for my parents to realize that things would be ok. I saw them often after I completed my canonical year and I know they have always been very happy with my life as a religious and as a matter of fact they were proud of me.
My life changed a lot as I began to live religious life. The formation program from entry to final vows was a 7 year process and there was a lot to learn along the way. After I completed a 6 month “Postulancy” I was received as a novice, was given a white veil and began my Canonical Year. During this year I stayed at the Motherhouse and spent my time in prayer, work and study. It was a good year for me and I understood what was being asked of me.
The SSMO’s were a perfect fit for me. They matched what I was looking for personally, a teaching order, an order that wore a habit and a place close to home! Right across the Interstate bridge from Vancouver, WA in Beaverton, OR!
I began teaching in our community high school, St. Mary of the Valley which was an all girls high school until 1991 when it went co-ed and the name changed to Valley Catholic. At that time I was vice principal and athletic director. After 16 years of teaching and administration, I was asked to administer the Catholic Youth Organization and Camp Howard.
That brings me to the present. I have spent a good deal of time reflecting on my religious vocation to write about my vocation today. I have given you the chronological events that took place getting me to the point of a religious sister, but the real essence of what I want to share with you is more difficult to articulate. The essence of a religious life! What has made my life effective? I suppose we could all ask that question of ourselves no matter what call we have answered – single life, married life, priestly, and religious.
My relationship with God, my prayer life, my ongoing desire to yearn for God. Being faithful to my vows and being present to community. Responding to God’s graces to live religious life. Also crucial is developing spiritual ears to listen to God, hear his voice and respond.
I have been blessed with a group of women to share this life with who are a source of religious inspiration, models of holiness, and a varied resource of talents and gifts. Time to develop talents has been a singular gift I have greatly appreciated.
I am grateful to God for these 33 years of religious life I have been blessed to live. I hope that if you are nudged by the Holy Spirit to live a religious life, you will have the courage to answer boldly, “yes Lord, your servant is listening.”
God Bless you and thank you for this opportunity to share my story with you!