I was born on my mother’s birthday, May 31st, in the little town of Conception Junction, Missouri, the youngest of five children. I want to acknowledge my family who gave me much love and support; my parents Julius and Marie Echterling; sisters Betty Lewis, Mary Lewis, Helen Welch and brother, Edward. I have the happiest childhood memories – my dad jumping the fence to play baseball with all the neighborhood children, Christmas filled with popcorn balls, taffy, singing around the piano and special gifts.
I’ve known that I was to be a sister since I was a little girl growing up in Missouri. My dad would tell me I was going to be a sister. His gentle fatherly reminders helped me to know God’s will for me and so I entered Mount Saint Scholastica Convent in1950. I made my profession on January 1, 1952.
I ministered as a teacher at St. Mary’s, Walsenburg, Colorado; St. Peter’s, Council Bluffs, Iowa; and Capulin, Colorado. I next spent some time as cafeteria manager at Benet Hill Academy. Though I loved the children and served generously it seemed a piece was missing in my life. That piece was nursing. I subsequently became a nursing assistant, receiving “on the job” training in the hospital in Walsenburg, Colorado. I then ministered as a nurse’s aide at St. Francis and Penrose Hospitals in Colorado Springs, DePaul Hospital in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Denver. I was also the supervisor at Hildegard’s infirmary at Benet Hill Monastery for many years. I then ministered at Benet Pines Retreat Center warmly welcoming all guests, cooking meals, cleaning and doing laundry.
Note from the Prioress: Sister Phyllis quietly celebrated her 70th Jubilee of professed life with her community August, 2022. She resides in our healthcare unit at the monastery where she continues to grace us with her loving, cheerful smile and presence. Because she has always loved animals, her current ministry is collecting, washing and giving away stuffed animals to those, young and old, who visit the monastery. She has given away hundreds of stuffed animals including to local fire departments so that paramedics may give them to children who are in an emergency situation or are grieving the death of a loved one. This quote from Father Philip Schuster, OSB from Seeking God’s Will through Faith, Hope and Charity sums up her life: “Our relationship with God is one of love. God loves us. From the very nature of this relationship we know that God wants us more than He wants our works. We must become holy.”