My Introduction to SisterStory

I always knew that I would learn so much from the Sisters. 

Upon entering Aquinas College, a small Dominican Catholic college in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I found myself surrounded by a plentiful amount of strong women. The founders of our school were The Dominican Sisters of Marywood, whose campus was all but a 5 minute walk from campus. The sisters appear on campus rarely these days, but their spirit still resounds loudly, and their presence brings peace and joy. I admitedly have always been skeptical of women religious. My own faith growing up, did not have women in leadership positions. Women were taught to be small, to not claim space. And while I knew of some of the activism surrounding the Dominican Sisters, I would have never imagined that we were more alike than different.

In the spring of 2017, my college held their first Womens March. It was here that I walked with the women of Marywood. As we began talking, I was overwhelmed with love and graditude. Their presence meant something. Their willingless to engage with me, meant something. And their deep tradition of social activism, meant something. As one sister shared her missions abroad, another talked about her time in the UN. Some talked about their Masters degrees, while others told heart warming tales of teaching. The women of Marywood had a story to tell, they just needed someone to listen.

Over the last few years, I have intentionally immursed myself into many religious communities. From Catholic, to Jewish, Hindu, to Sikh, expanding my own horizons was increasingly important to me in order to understand the world  around me. It also gave me strong and incredibly meaningful connections with the women I surrounded myself with. Intentionality was what made these relationships special. Knowing this, I signed up for 'Sister Story: An Oral Historian Project." The rest was history (literally!)

On January 24th, I was paired with Sister Helen Bueche. A Grand Rapids native, she joined the sisterhood in 1960, at the age of 25. Sister Helen taught for many years of her service, and worked within Native American Reservations. From Saginaw, Michigan, to Canton, Oklahoma she has taught many different ministries over the years. In her retirement, Sister Helen enjoys swimming, keeping up with old friends, and looks forward to our weekly visits.

I could not be more blessed to have such a special and unique opportunity to cultivate such a unique relationship. Often times, Sister Helen and I's meetings are full of laugher, as we gleefully make connections to one another, and realize more and more every day, that we are a lot more alike than we could've imagined. My relationship with my Sister is special, and one that I cherish deeply. I am so lucky to have such an incredibly kind, and thoughtful woman to work with. More stories, with pictures to come!


Marissa Ebels


About Marissa Ebels

Marissa Ebels is a Junior at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, studying Political Science with a minor in Women's Studies. She was raised in the Southern Baptist and Christian Reformed traditions from birth and is now non-denominational. Working closely within various religious communities, she has become fascinated by the lives of women religious. Marissa is passionate about sexual assault advocacy, interfaith activities, activist work, and Middle East politics. During the Spring of 2018 she was paired with Sister Helen Bueche, OP; a Dominican Sister.