This is my story as one small “Baby Blue Fir Tree” in the midst of the pines of Benet Hill Monastery. On March 18, 1952, I made my debut in the midst of economic challenges, two step-brothers, a brother, and working parents. I grew and thrived with the love of my family and babysitters until I was able to attend the Pueblo Day Nursery. I credit my early years at the nursery for planting the seeds of community, shared decision-making, cooperative living, and discipline.
One fateful day, when I was 12, my father walked out of our lives. That day my brother Ed and I accepted adult responsibilities with our now single parent mom. We faced the worry of economic survival and sought emotional stability as a changed family nucleus. As an active girl scout during this time, I was able to develop useful skills for living and gain a deep appreciation for nature while nurturing my broken heart. During these teen years, I began to hear God’s call to become a Benedictine Sister and sought out guidance from the vocation director in the Diocese.
On September 1, 1971, after working and going to college for one year, I entered the Priory and proceeded through the formative stages to final vows on January 7, 1979. Besides my spiritual formation through the novitiate; I attended Iliff School of Theology, and Regis College. While attending classes at Regis, I also taught PE and coached at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Lakewood, CO. I left there to complete my degree at Southern Colorado State College and received my undergraduate degree in Education with an emphasis in Physical Education, Health and Recreation. After student teaching at Benet Hill Academy in 1975, I began my tenure as Sister Coach heading the Physical Education Department, teaching freshman Religion and serving as the first Athletic Director. I loved those years and my students. It wasn’t until we closed the Academy in 1982 that I realized I had identified myself as Sister Coach for so long that I had failed to deal with my personal grief and needed to reshape my identity at a much deeper level than ministry.
Following my years at the Academy, I served in Youth Ministry for five years at Divine Redeemer Catholic Church with a remarkable pastor, staff and many fine adults and teens. In 1987, our prioress, Sister Naomi Rosenberger, requested I come to the monastery and begin my tenure in the finance office as business manager and later in service to the community as treasurer. I served in that position for 13 years before taking a sabbatical in 2002-2003.
My sabbatical year was a major turning point for incredible spiritual, emotional and psychological maturation. I came to know a wholeness of being I had never known before. I learned the importance of intentional awareness that comes from mindfulness to the present moment. At a deep level of my being I was learning: “Life to the full is possible, but not without my choosing it one small action at a time.” Since then, the years have been a journey of shadowed and compromised choices to times of new choices. I am learning that as I choose one small movement in the present moment that fullness of life does come. Not in a quick, fluffy, sanctimonious way, rather often times with struggle, difficulty, forgiveness and complexity. From this I have come to know more fully the deep mystery that dwells in me, my identity, my origin and the place I call my deepest integrity. I am able to touch the greatest mystery of all: that indwelling of God within – Emmanuel. It is there, I know peace and happiness in the midst of challenges. During this significant period, I had the great satisfaction of returning to Pueblo to help care for my aging mother until she died in 2010, and to work at the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo from 2007 to 2012. Not only did I feel secure and comfortable in my hometown of Pueblo, I was immersed in nature – the home of my soul.
With the election of Sister Clare Carr as prioress in 2011, I was summoned to the monastery to serve the community as treasurer along with service on the Leadership Team, managing human resources, coordinating maintenance and serving our oblates as their director. I am tremendously grateful for a life extremely BLESSED through God, family, faithful friends and my sisters. I consider myself one small whispering antiphon in this great Song of the Pines – Benet Hill Monastery.