I have no recollections from my youth of wanting to be a Sister. I have no knowledge that people were praying that I would be a Sister. I’ve come to the conclusion, though, that it was meant to be, through providence, prayers, and positive forces.
When I looked back into my family’s heritage, I learned that my mother’s relatives were certainly drawn to religious life! My Uncle Joseph died of pneumonia during his seminary training. My Aunt Madeline was in Convent formation when she received a concussion (a brick that was weighting a cherry tree limb fell on her) and she was dismissed because the order feared future mental problems might develop for her. And thirdly, my cousin Elizabeth had tried Convent life and, after a year or so, left to care for her mother.
My father was raised Methodist. Although he had a deep respect for God and a deep love for his wife and six children, it was difficult for him to understand my call to religious life.
My first acquaintance with the Sisters of St. Mary was as a high school student in Verboort where I took piano lessons from Sr. Engratia. Then our family made our eighth move, this time to the town of Beaverton where my dad would be the lumber yard manager. It was there in St. Cecilia’s Parish that we met Fr. Gerace — very strong, yet gentle and caring! Thanks to Fr. Gerace’s expressed hope that my sister and I would attend St. Mary of the Valley High School, it was there that we went, even though our older brother was attending Beaverton Union High School.
I loved the friendly feeling and the structure for work that I felt among the girls and teachers in this small school. I was impressed by the awe with which senior religion teacher, Sister Aquinas, taught us. It caused me to want to know more about God. It was at the end of that year that an admired teacher asked if I had thought of being a nun. I quickly responded, “No.” I was totally surprised by her question as I had not realized that women BECAME nuns. That did it! As I reflected upon and shared this with my mother, I realized that it would be the perfect place to fulfill my desire to learn more about God and be able to attend Mass every day. What I didn’t realize was the lifelong support I would feel from these women for the rest of my life!
From Sr. Theresa Margaret I learned that I should write a letter to the Mother General telling her why I wanted to join the Sisters and ask if I might come. To this day I thank God for Sr. Theresa Margaret’s question and my mother’s support.
I was interested in being a teacher and so I was trained and spent 44 wonderful years teaching primary children. Even here I found that the time I spent in preparing to teach strengthened my own faith and understanding and found me praying to be the kind of instrument that would stir the students to live lives of love and respect for God.
I am no longer full-time in the classroom, yet I find every day presents opportunities to “…know Him more clearly, love Him more dearly and follow Him more nearly day by day.” Truly, divine providence, many prayers and positive forces have been felt in my life!
Photo album: We are proud to share photos honoring Sr. Marianne’s life and service. Sr. Marianne celebrates her 60th Jubilee in 2017.