Sister Stefanie

May Christ bring us all together to everlasting life.  Rule of Benedict

No more oatmeal bowls in the sink: Monastic life vs apartment life

What have you found to be most challenging about your new life?

Sister Stefanie: Living with other people means I can’t let my oatmeal bowl sit in the sink till I get home from work in the afternoon! The rhythm of our life took some getting used to, as well. It’s much quieter and more balanced than my old life, where I’d teach all day, volunteer at church and sing in the choir, and go to a second job after that. Lots of nights I wouldn’t get to bed till 1 a.m., then get up just in time to get to work the next morning.

A typical weekday for me now goes like this: get up at 6, go to Lauds at 7, eat breakfast and go to school by 8:30. I come home at 12:30 - I miss weekday noon prayer because of my work schedule - eat lunch and go to class. Then, I might go for a walk, or visit with some of the retired Sisters, or read. We have Vespers at 5 and dinner at 5:30. After that, maybe we’ll watch a movie or play a game of cards. Usually I’ll have some work to do for my pre-school class. We basically do the same things any family does.

What has made you happiest?

Sister Stefanie: Our prayer life is wonderful. I love the way we come together every day for Liturgy of the Hours. I’m taking a psalms class that I love, because it has helped deepen my understanding and appreciation of the psalms. I’m learning so much in general. As a teacher, I always love to learn new things, and this has been, wow! Amazing.

I love the Sisters, too. They are such amazing women, so warm and welcoming. I really can’t put into words how much it means to be part of this group, all working toward the same goal. It gives me such a secure and happy feeling.

How has the experience changed you?

Sister Stefanie: I know I have become much quieter. When I lived alone, I used to always have my radio or TV or I-Pod on. I don’t so much anymore. Quiet is nice. And my prayer life is getting deeper.

The other thing is, I am becoming more patient. Our slower and quieter lifestyle forces that, to a certain extent. And this process of becoming a Benedictine takes time. You don’t just decide to do it and poof! Become one.

You had your own place, your own car, a good job and good friends. That’s a lot to give up!

Sister Stefanie: Well, yes and no. Giving up my job was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I loved the kids, the faculty and the parents. I miss them and my friends. I miss the best lattes at this little coffee shop that my friends and I went to all the time. But this is my new life, and I had to move on. You do the same thing when you get married.

Speaking of marriage, have you ever been in love?

Sister Stefanie: I always thought I’d get married and have six kids, but I never really fell in love. I dated guys that I liked a lot, but I never felt that head-over-heels spark that you see in the movies. And I’ve had so many kids, as a teacher, that I feel I’ve had an impact on the future.

How did you know you were being called to religious life? You could have stayed single.

Sister Stefanie: I’ve had the feeling off and on since high school. I even went to live with a Franciscan community for several months when I was 30. I didn’t feel like they lived any differently than I already was living, though, in my own apartment.

After that, I concentrated on work for several years. When the feeling came back, I tried a completely contemplative and habited community in Nebraska. That wasn’t for me, either. It was too restrictive. I wouldn’t have been able to see my family. So, I went online and found some Benedictine communities that had the right blend of apostolic and contemplative life. I want to work outside the community, but be a part of a family life that includes a rhythm of daily prayer and meals together.

This community was a wonderful fit for me. I’m an extreme introvert, but I felt the Sisters’ warmth and hospitality right away. I am very happy with this decision.