“I can tell you about my path, but I am only a little wire—God is the power. Talk to others, the sisters, the brothers and the people who work with them. Some are not Christians, talk to them. You will know it when you see it. It is very beautiful.”
(Mother Teresa- A Simple Path)
As I reflect on the path that led me to become a Franciscan Associate, the years are filled with spiritual seeking, experiences and explorations along with risk taking and hard work. I was baptized in the Presbyterian Church in Oakes, North Dakota, where my grandparents were long time elders. My grandmother, Helene Hample, was the organist and choir director. As a child I loved going to church and sitting on the organ bench with her. I recall a song she played each Sunday before the service started, Quam Dilecta: “The Lord is in His Holy Temple…. let all the earth keep silence.”
The next part of my spiritual path was spent attending the Christian church in Breckenridge, Minn., where my father accepted a teaching position when I was in second grade. I attended church, Sunday School, Youth Group, sang in choir and was confirmed. The minister often focused only on sin, getting emotional and raising his voice during his sermons. I stopped going to this church in senior high school. I had several friends in Breckenridge who were Catholic and sometimes went to church with them. I loved the ritual of the mass and Eucharist. In my heart I felt I was supposed to be a Catholic!
During my junior high years, I volunteered at St. Francis Hospital as a candy striper and it is here I met and learned about the Franciscan Sisters. Words cannot adequately describe the impact the sisters and volunteering had on me. Sister Paula Pohlmann was the hospital administrator during part of my time and my mother worked in the laboratory with Sister Ardis Cloutier. This wonderful experience was life changing and I began my commitment to volunteering and service. I could write pages about the memories I have from my time with the Franciscans. (continued on p. 2)
Fast-forward to 1976-77 when I was in graduate school at the University of Minnesota and working as the director of Pillsbury Club, a residential dorm for young women, located in downtown Minneapolis and owned by the Women’s Christian Association. The dorm was next door
to St. Olaf Catholic Church where I attended mass and eventually enrolled in adult religious preparation, I was confirmed on December 12, 1977.
It has been 40 years since I converted to Catholicism. I have tried to live a life of purpose, offering love, friendship, forgiveness and kindness—trusting in God to help keep me on this path.
In July of 2014, my dear, longtime friend Marilyn Brennan Gates told me Sister Ardis was at the motherhouse in Little Falls for a 50th jubilee. I drove to Little Falls and we met for a brief visit. Sister Ardis encouraged me to contact Sister Paula and this led me to Clare’s Well and lunch with her. Soon after I started volunteering at Clare’s Well. Spending time with Sisters Paula, Jan and Carol and working at Clare’s Well allowed me to see the Franciscan values in action. I was encouraged to explore becoming an associate. After meeting with Geri Dietz, I was confident this was the path God had chosen for me. My personal values aligned perfectly with
the Franciscans. After meetings with Geri, reading and studying the lives of Francis and Clare, I was invited to become an associate. “I desire to be an Associate of this Franciscan Community of Little Falls because I wish to be sister and brother to all of you and to all of God’s creatures. With you and with God’s help, I want to make the world a more loving, just and peaceful community. Together with you, I want to carry the spirit of Francis and Clare into our world (Associate Commitment Liturgy).”
I am grateful I said “Yes” to the path God provided me.
Thank you, Cheri, for helping us see
that the goal of life is one
with the path that takes us there.