Many people inspired me to consider religious life: my parents; my aunts, Sr. Marcine Frank, SSMO, and Sr. Ruth Frank, OSB; my great aunt, Sr. Antonina Lulay, SSMO; and my uncle, Fr. Clement Frank, OSB.
I heard God’s call to religious life many times while attending first- through eighth-grade at St. Boniface School in Sublimity, Ore. My first-grade teacher, Sr. Rosalita Kramer, SSMO, exuded energy and a wonderful sense of humor. First Holy Communion was a huge event. We attended Daily Mass, and fasted from midnight until then. I loved the hot chocolate and buttered toast they served after Mass in the school cafeteria. If I still felt hungry afterward, I ran over to Grandma Frank’s house behind the church and she made me something more to eat.
My parents began their large family young—my mother was 16 and my father 18—and I was the first of five girls and four boys. My four sisters and I enjoyed playing school. We sang and carried out Requiem Masses for any creatures that died and gave them very respectful burials. I helped my mom with all the babies and loved to care for them. Every summer my family picked berries and beans to help with our financial needs.
My friend Marcella Parrish (later an SSMO) told me about the SSMO’s Aspirancy program while we were picking beans together the summer after eighth-grade. The program provided housing at the convent for high school girls at St. Mary of the Valley Academy (now Valley Catholic High School) who were interested in living with the Community. Mother Colette Lorch, SSMO, the sponsor, encouraged me and many other girls to join.
I joined, supported by my father, who was happy to pay the five dollars a month; he could not feed me for that little at home. While living at the convent, I fell in love with the SSMO Community.
I never stopped dreaming of becoming a nun. The novitiate program and the influence of SSMO Sisters—Alberta Schwall, Ina Marie Nosack, Callista O’Connor, and Hugh Copenhaver—prepared me well for the ministry of religious life. On August 15, 1958, I took first vows for two years. In my heart I took final vows. The great day in 1960 I pronounced final vows. This was the best day ever. The blessed day finally arrived when I gave myself totally to Jesus as a Sister of St. Mary of Oregon. Later I celebrated my 25th anniversary and then my 50th in 2006. These two days were absolutely wonderful with family, friends, and my community.
I received an excellent college education by the Sisters of Holy Names at Marylhurst University, where I prepared for the ministry of teaching. Later, I attended the University of Portland and Gonzaga University where I continued my teaching education.
In 1991 I taught fourth grade at Holy Cross School in North Portland and spent another year teaching middle school science. During this time, I attended the University of San Francisco’s Institute for Catholic Education Leadership (ICEL); the Jesuit program prepared me to become a Catholic School Administrator and inspired me to be a spiritual and educational leader. I also attended the Center for Continuing Formation in Ministry (CCFM) program at Notre Dame. For four months I took classes, attended wonderful liturgies and learned how to relax and “just be.” After this experience, I prepared to resume teaching at Holy Cross, not knowing that I would serve as principal there until I retired in 2010. I was honored to serve at Holy Cross School. It is dear to my heart.
I feel so blessed. I loved every place I served. I was challenged and delighted by teaching. I dearly loved helping students succeed and become the best they could be. In my life, I received challenges and fulfillment. I try to live in the present moment and remember that each day is a gift. God gives me so much energy, love of life, and joy.
During her years of ministry, Sister Ruth Frank served as a teacher or principal at many outstanding schools: St. Michael School, Grand Ronde; Visitation School, Verboort; St. Cecilia School, Beaverton; Holy Cross School, Portland; Our Lady of Sorrows School, Portland; Sacred Heart School, Tillamook; and Archbishop Howard School, Portland.
Her own life lessons have inspired her message.
They are also reflected in the photos of service and ministry that she has generously shared. Sr. Ruth Frank celebrates her 60th Jubilee in 2016.