Over the course of this semester, I learned a lot about Sister Mary Catherine as well as religious life. We talked about the jobs she had worked, living in community and how decisions were made.
Since I go to a Catholic school, it was especially meaningful for me to understand the lives of women religious. I definitely feel more connected to school’s Catholic identity now that I have a relationship with Sister Mary Catherine.
Even after our final interview, I’ve continued thinking about my conversations with Sister Mary Catherine. One theme was the idea of change and adaptability. This first came up as she told me about the history of the Dominican Sisters when they were still in Germany. Under the Edict of Secularization, their land would be returned to the state unless they started some form of civil service.
The Dominican Sisters, cloistered nuns at the time, responded by opening a school. They continued adapting by coming to the United States to teach and later by adding other ministries. Sister Mary Catherine also worked at St. Joseph Parish in Kalamazoo. The church, originally an English-speaking parish, adapted to become a bilingual church, or “shared parish." Sister Mary Catherine herself exemplified this in the wide range of ministries she was involved in.
I’ve already been able to apply this lesson to my own life. I’m on the Student Senate at Aquinas College, and recently we’ve been struggling with low investment and a high turnover rate among Senators. After discussion, we decided that we needed to adapt and restructure Senate to resolve these problems. My conversations with Sister Mary Catherine had made me more willing to adapt to the needs of the times, which helped us resolve our problems. It was very impactful to build my relationship with Sister Mary Catherine. It was a chance for me to know someone with a very different lived experience from myself, and I’m sure it will continue to affect me in the rest of my life.