W284 N404 Cherry Lane -
Waukesha, WI 53188
firstname.lastname@example.org | (262) 522-4200
Originally from Isanti, MN, Sr. M. Jennifer began postulancy with our community in 2003. She shares the following about her ‘life out of love’:
...I had been exposed to only a few sisters in my early years, and although I liked them and enjoyed helping them, I never imagined becoming one myself. When I was about nine we were introduced to Schoenstatt, and the first sister I met was Sr. Marie. She invited my sister and I to come to camp in Sleepy Eye, MN, and soon I became a regular participant. I enjoyed being with the sisters, for they were always happy, and they knew how to make you feel at home. But still, my plan was to grow up, get married, and have lots of kids. I would never become a sister- or so I thought!
When I was fifteen, I was able to attend the Reception of five new sisters in Waukesha. I enjoyed it very much. Everything was so beautiful… and I believe at that occasion, the seed was planted - although I didn’t realize it yet.
The first time I actually gave it a thought was after my sixteenth birthday. On that occasion my parents gave me a chastity ring, which is a ring that symbolizes I will remain chaste until marriage – or forever! It was a very solemn moment as my father took the ring and placed it on my left hand. Needless to say, this made a deep impression on me, and I began to wonder ~ what if God is really calling me to be a sister? I had always prayed a simple vocation prayer everyday, asking for the grace to know what my vocation in life is, but it never occurred to me that maybe I was to be one of the few chosen for the consecrated life.
I had also always been encouraged to remain open, and even if there is the slightest inspiration in my heart to think of the consecrated life, I should not ignore it, but really pray about it and be open to God’s call. So I waited and prayed, keeping myself open to any sign from above. And this sign came during a vocation retreat I attended. It wasn’t anything extraordinary – just a song which I had heard for the first time called “The Summons.” While I listened to the words, it seemed as if Christ was speaking directly to me. “Will you come and follow me if I but call your name? Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same…?”
From the depths of my heart I knew I wanted to say ‘yes.’ And I cannot describe the great peace that filled my soul once I had said that very simple word. With that I knew I was called to be a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary. This decision was confirmed and strengthened a few weeks later as I participated in the girls’ youth pilgrimage to Schoenstatt and Rome. On August 10th I made my covenant of love in the Original Shrine, and I realized how much God had given me through Schoenstatt. It was his merciful love that had called me here, and I knew I could never repay him for everything he had given me. With this I decided to give my life for Schoenstatt. And of course, God is never outdone in generosity, for with every little gift we give him, he in turn lavishly bestows his abundant gifts and graces. To this I can testify!
Was it always easy? God needed to prove my love and faithfulness to him. Sometimes I would think – “Maybe this is all a dream… Marriage is also so beautiful… Wouldn’t it be fun to go to college…Can I really be a sister?” But in the end I am convinced that it was prayer that helped me through – my own prayers and those of others. And this thought always stuck with me: I heard my call in a moment of grace, so I can count on grace to help me remain faithful to it. And you can do the same! You can count on my prayers for you as you also discern your vocation... And please remember: the call one receives from God is the greatest treasure one can possess, and only that can make you truly happy!
Born and raised in Chicago, Sr. Iris Marie entered our community in Spring of 2003. You may have encountered her on one of our vocational retreats!
In reflecting on her vocation and the ways God used to lead her to begin her new ‘life of love,’ she shares the following:
“I came to Schoenstatt at the age of 10 for the first time in a Mother –Daughter Retreat. My mother and I left feeling as though we had another home. I had to come back . . . The Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt had found a place in my life. Coming to Schoenstatt, I felt that I was able to unfold who I was and learn more about what God wants of me instead of what I want of me. I was able to take a break from the hustle and bustle of my surroundings and center on the question: “What does God want of me?” In high school I did not have as much time to come to my “home away from home” as I used to . . . It wasn’t until college that I really felt I was missing something. There was more to life than a job, school, and weekends. The only thing that I was secure in was that God was asking something daring of me.
In November of 2002, I was invited to come to the Schoenstatt Center in Waukesha. There I found two of my future course sisters who were already candidates. We knew each other from the WYD pilgrimage in 2000. In sharing memories with them, my ‘light bulb’ turned on. What were they doing here? After asking they told me they were entering the community of the Schoenstatt Sisters. I couldn’t help but be a little jealous. They knew already in high school that they wanted to give their yes to God and came as soon as possible.
During the Holy Mass that followed, I was able to ask myself the question again: “What do you want of me?” I was able to accompany Christ though his life in my life, and I found him everywhere. Jesus has always been with me, in me. So now, what did he want of me? Later in the day, during the Benediction, it seemed as if I was the only person there . . . If you never thought the Holy Spirit could talk, let me tell you - for me it came in writing! The title of the Benediction was, “Adsum, Be Not Afraid!” I was being challenged to cast my nets into the deep. God wanted everything. But God, what could you do with a city girl like me? I am so small, and I can’t change the world! Yet, he had given me the answer to my question: Be Not Afraid!
With that assurance, I realized God wanted my yes, and I gave it to him. It is the best decision I ever made!”
Sr. M. Alice has lived and worked for many years as an extern sister in New Ulm, Minnesota, which is close to our sisters’ house and retreat center in Sleepy Eye. She works as the librarian at the Catholic high school in New Ulm, and also contributes in many ways to the spiritual life of the school and parish.
As an extern sister, Sr. M. Alice lives alone, but is affiliated with our sisters in Sleepy Eye. She usually ‘comes home’ at least once or twice a week to be with the sisters, to visit the shrine, and gain new strength for her mission. She writes of her own vocation story:
“I always wanted to be of service...I graduated from high school in Fond du Lac and worked my way through college. By the time I was finished, I had earned a degree in English, with a minor in journalism, from Marian College of Fond du Lac in May 1966. I was 26 years old. That spring, a recruiter for the Peace Corps came to our campus and talked about serving in a new way...I immediately signed up was accepted, and sent to... Afghanistan. I wanted to serve any way that I could, so I accepted the invitation for education in Afghanistan and flew there in September of 1966. I was there until 1968.
Upon my return to USA, my desire to help prompted me to pursue my studies until May 1973, when I graduated from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Library and Information Science with a Master's Degree in Library Science. That May, I checked the job opportunity boards at the university, and applied for 25 positions. More than half of these were answered with the following by-line: If only you had applied a day sooner, the job would have been yours. I sat down and asked myself: "Is this just a coincidence that I cannot find a job?" No, I decided that it was not...and that God was calling me to something else.
I began to go to daily Mass and decided to talk to Monsignor Beres, the rector of the Cathedral. When he came in, I told him that I was interested in joining a religious community...He asked me my last name. "Kunz," I replied. "Oh, that's a fine German name," he said. And then asked me if I had ever heard about Schoenstatt. I had not, so he gave me the name of one of the sisters and her phone number and told me that she would be able to help me. Even though I did, I did not foster the contact with much enthusiasm. But the Sister called me and invited me to visit her...and through my contact with her and several retreats of discernment, I made my decision to enter the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary on September 6, 1973.
Most people don't have as many adventures in their lives as I have had, and my mother once remarked that I had found my wonderland when she came for my reception in March 1974, and saw the beautiful land which is ours here in Waukesha. Wherever we are, we create a beautiful place, because that is what Schoenstatt means. Yes, I believe that I have found my wonderland, and am now following my heart, as God intended for me from all eternity.