Years ago, Sister Susan (Johanna) heard God’s question in her heart: “Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days?” (Psalm 33 :13 and Rule of Benedict Prologue 15). Eventually her response directed her to Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn. Here she gave herself in a perpetual commitment to live the Gospel according to the vision of Saint Benedict. S. Susan made a threefold promise to live faithfully according to the Rule of Benedict with a commitment to obedience (prayerful listening and responding) and dedication to stability that centers her life in God, her Benedictine community, and the people she serves. This commitment has formed the foundation of her life. Practices such as prayer, hospitality, respect, perseverance, compassion, and service mark her daily activities.
S. Susan may also have heard the words that God spoke to the prophet Isaiah: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” She probably responded with the words of the prophet: “Here I am; send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Invitations to serve led her along many pathways. They wound their way through teaching elementary school children, to guiding women during the phases of becoming a member of our monastery, to working as director of housing at the College of Saint Benedict. For 21 years, she held the position of director/chaplain at Saint Benedict’s Senior Community in St. Cloud, Minn., where her background in gerontology, pastoral ministry and chaplaincy served the residents well. Her journey took her to Taiwan, Japan, Puerto Rico, the Bahama Islands, and China, where she engaged in projects with women religious.
For the past six years, S. Susan served as prioress of our monastery, assisting us along with people and institutions of the St. Cloud area, particularly the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University and the Saint Cloud Hospital. She holds a persistent concern for the underprivileged who suffer from poverty and discriminatory practice. Though the people, culture and work along the way have varied, S. Susan’s commitment to serving the needs of people and inviting them to a fuller life has endured.
For relaxation, S. Susan enjoys physical activities that keep her in touch with nature: gardening, walking, and biking. Reading, writing and cheering on the Minnesota Vikings are some of her strong interests.
Clearly, S. Susan has lived her Benedictine life to the full and has welcomed many people and situations with the heart of Christ. She has acknowledged that God’s love has been given to her generously. Her response has led her to many opportunities to share that love with gratitude.
Profile written by Mary Reuter, OSB