For as long as I have known her, Sister Stephen has exemplified for me a person whose life is modeled on the high-priestly and longing prayer of Jesus for those He loved: “Father, I have made Your name known to those whom you gave me. They were yours and you gave them to me…May they all be one as we are one…” (John 17).
S. Stephen often reads our prayer petition board and has little guessing about what is needed and helpful at this time in our world. She would say: “Awareness and a caring heart fit well into our life and ministry here at Saint Scholastica Convent. Our bulletin board, the daily newspaper and TV headlines alert us to our world situation and the needs of our human family. Being aware helps my heart to care and be inspired to pray.”
She was first aware of the voice of God calling her to be a Benedictine one afternoon after having finished grade school. She was in the garden picking plums and a voice “too real to imagine” invited her to be a sister. She reflects, “I left my plum pail, went to find my mother, and told her what happened. What was marvelous was that my mother said that I should talk to Pa. He believed me as well. It was I who did not know I wanted to be a sister until this happened…By September 1943, at age 13, I was at Saint Ben’s. I had a suitcase and a box in my possession. I arrived late for high school classes and had a lot of make-up work to do!” S. Stephen seemed to catch up well and realized many longings of her heart.
The longing, stretching prayer of Jesus is how S. Stephen has long stretched out her hand and life to serving others. She listens, communicates and bends toward those who surround her. She has been an educator all her life including in the St. Joseph Lab School, St. Joseph, Minn., for 16 years, two summer school courses in the Bahamas teaching reading and language arts, and at the Red Lake Indian Mission in Red Lake, Minn., for 12 years—all within her 75 years as a smiling, generous Benedictine.
Her ever-present desire is to help students know that Jesus wants to fill their hearts, and she tells the story of God whenever she can, passionately believing in God’s desire to be so close that nothing can separate or divide us from God or from one another. I imagine God tenderly speaking words of assurance to S. Stephen: “Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Luke 19:17) and “What you have done for these, you have done for Me” (Matthew 25:40).
Profile written by Renée Domeier, OSB