Our Stories HOW OUR SISTERS WERE CALLED BY JOY
I grew up on a large horse and cattle ranch in Montana with an older sister, two older brothers and a younger sister. My dad and mom were foreman and “assistant” foreman. There was a country grade school down the road which I attended through eighth grade. My sister and I boarded in Lewistown in order to attend Catholic high school. At the ranch I helped work cattle,breed and train Quarter Horses and do everyday chores. During the summer I also helped paint “miles and miles” of white fence similar to the white fences on the horse farms in Kentucky. I appreciate white fences much more than the average person. 4-H and sports took up my spare time.
Through my brothers attending St. Anthony’s High School in Santa Barbara, California, I found out about the Franciscans. I started with a fledging group of Secular Franciscans in college and was a candidate with the Spokane fraternity while going through Medical Technology internship.
I found out about the Poor Clares in Spokane but was a little afraid of being “too religious”. I visited with them several times and eventually lost my heart. After internship, I entered in 1987.
Every year I seem to get “more religious” and more in love with my vocation. I love to work outside in the garden or greenhouse or do active chores such as always seem to abound in the monastery. I also work a lot with community correspondence and other necessary challenges of life. I was recently elected Vicaress so am in the process of “growing” into that job as well.
The third child in a family of five, I was about nine years old when my mother died and so I depended a lot on my two older sisters for support and guidance. One became the ‘mother’ and the one who was next to me in age became ‘my friend’. We talked about many things one of which was my desire to be a nun when I grew up. We shared hours together making plans about what we would do with our lives.
Because of circumstances, Dad was not able to keep us together as a family and we were placed in foster homes. When I was twelve years old, I went to the home of the Karwoski family; there I began to adjust my life anew, in a loving, caring and happy home. I stayed with this family during the rest of my teenage years. Julia Karwoski was like a mother to me. She taught me how to cook her delicious Polish omelet and great Italian Chili. The laughter was abundant as the family gathered to decorate the Christmas tree and put the nativity scene in its special place. Mom Karwoski filled those teen years with lots of love, protection and guidance. I am sure it was here that my desire to enter Religious life began in earnest!
Since entering the Monastery in 1969 I have done a number of things that I never would have done outside of religious life. Each year I seem to find new talents and abilities to develop. I love to work in the field of art; painting, sculpturing, ceramics, candles, even decorating birthday cakes or trimming Christmas trees. God seems to open my eyes each day to serve him in a new way that I find happiness and love in doing.
Sister Rita Louise
The oldest of a family of eight children, I was raised in Yakima and received twelve years of Catholic education. I experienced an early desire to love God (as St. Therese did) which grew into a desire for the religious life. By the end of the eighth grade, I was firmly settled in the intention of becoming a cloistered Poor Clare Nun. The specific attraction to the Poor Clare Order came through a phrase written in a diocesan newspaper, “laughter floating out from behind the grille.” It was the joy of the Poor Clares which attracted me to their life!
The time of my entrance (1966) was just after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, and all the changes were starting! The first years were exciting as the habits and names of the sisters were changed, the liturgy adapted, the house renovated and numerous customs adapted – all with charity as the guiding principle! I participated in many facets of the work of the community, and was the sacristan for forty-five years. I am now going into my 26th year as community cook and served as Abbess for 6 years.
I try to live united with God throughout the day and to desire above all else to have “the spirit of the Lord and its holy activity."
Sister Marcia Kay