PrayerCommunityMinistry
 

2015 Jubilee:
What kind of Love the Father has given us!

In this Year of Consecrated Life, the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh congratulate their Sisters celebrating Jubilee! "So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Sister Karen Brink
Sister Christine Makowski
Sister Julia Makowski
Sister Evelyn Dettling
Sister Corinne Moeller
Sister Kathleen Mack
Sister Norma Weigand

 

 

Sister Karen Brink

If one wanted to design the virtues and attributes of a little girl who would become the Prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh what would she be like? Would she live in North Side, PA and have beautiful curls? A polka dot dress, a sweet and helpful disposition? Would she be kind to birds, and little animals? Would she spend quiet summer afternoons on the floor of a porch playing with dolls, or cleaning closets to help her mother? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Sister Karen Brink, the Prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh, will be celebrating her 50 year Jubilee on August 8, 2015, and Sister Karen was not that little girl. There were the curls and polka dots, but there was also independence, and strength of character that are still very much a part of her today. When asked what has been her inspiration from the days of childhood to becoming Prioress, Sister Karen said, “People. Understand, I am sustained by prayer, but it is, and has always been people. I really admire those who are dedicated and committed – work hard. They energize me.” Juggling her silver coffee mug in one hand, she runs out the door and into the rain. She is gone again. It’s Thursday morning and Sister is leaving behind any number of phone calls, letters to be written, concerns to address, all of it, to serve breakfast at the Lighthouse. It is Ministry and Sister loves it, “I have always been 100% committed to my ministries.” Those ministries have included being a teacher of high school religion, a high school counselor, principal, diocesan consultant, and sought after facilitator.

During a professional career that began over 40 years ago at St. Teresa of Avila, Sister has taken fewer than five personal days, and even fewer sick days. Hours later, when Sister Karen returns to the Monastery she will address everything on her desk, patiently and with genuine concern, meet with everyone who needs her, attend to her spiritual worship, work on a few ideas for increasing ministry, and mark her checklist to make sure all has been done to care for the monastery, and the community of sisters who have placed their trust in her. All, before retiring for the night. “Being treated by the Prioress as a trusted, and responsible adult, was very important to me.” Sister said, quietly. “I have always loved the Sisters. The image of them in my neighborhood as a little girl is still so vivid. They had such a presence, and looked so happy. I remember when my sister, Janet, entered the Benedictines. I was 12. I had always looked up to her and missed her so much. Every once in a while, I would see her. It was before Vatican II so of course, we couldn’t speak, but I was thrilled just to watch her. “ It has only been a few weeks since the death of one of her closest friends and a cherished member of the Community. Sister Karen, taller in stature than all but Sister Gemma, is showing no sign of sadness from the loss, or fatigue from the responsibility she shoulders as prioress. She is with her sisters, among her community, their voices are blending into one beautiful Morning Prayer. A new day in the Monastery has begun.



Sister Christine Makowski

“You would never have passed my Home-Economics class.” Sister Christine Makowski told me while laughing. She went on to describe the aprons “her girls” made, complete with ruffles along the bib. Sister Christine will turn 94 years old this May, the same year as her 65th Jubilee. Sister Christine entered the Monastery at the age of 28. At the time, she would never have believed her career would include 32 years at St. Benedict Academy, and 25 years as Building Manager for Saint Benedict Hall. Sister is soft spoken, has a sophisticated manner, and dresses with an impeccable attention to soft details. The same attention to details she used to make Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls for first place winners at the Saint Benedict Academy summer festivals she coordinated. While her outward appearance is true to the code of Home Economics teachers we have all known, it is her compassion, humor, strength, and iron-will that one sees in her eyes. Sister Christine is a firm believer in the power of positive thinking. And focuses her attention on bringing positive, fortuitous, and loving thoughts to all those around her. Her concerns, however, are for todays’ families. “The young seem so confused, so willing to do anything, as if they don’t know who they are. And, it’s the family where we learn identity, where we learn to value who we are.” When asked what advice Sister Christine would give to others, “All in all, it has been a good life. My advice is to love and enjoy one another.”


Sister Julia Makowski

Though she “never planned on becoming a sister,” Sister Julia Makowski is celebrating her 65th year Jubilee. Sister “Julie” has always been fun-loving and gregarious. World War II was raging when Julie, only 14 years old, persuaded her brother-in-law to purchase and renovate an empty building “so the young people could have somewhere to go.” The building became the Village Grill and the location of Sister Julie’s first job. Sister Julie fondly remembers the Grill as a place where her friends and the occasional soldier who wandered in spent time, “We were all like family. It was a great place.” The daughter of a coal miner and the 2nd to the youngest of 9 children, “My family never had much, but we had each other.” Sister Julie joined the Benedictine community in her early twenties and became Sister Mary Daniel. She loved community life from the beginning and holds as her most cherished memory, her first Christmas in the monastery. “I awakened Christmas morning to the sound of the sisters singing Christmas carols as they walked through the halls of the monastery. It was the most beautiful thing I ever heard.” While at a conference in North Dakota, Sister Julie was one of the first sisters to experience Vespers being said in English rather than Latin. Her letter of excitement written to Sister Pauline at the monastery back home, and the reaction of some community members to it, personified the change of direction that was just beginning. After Vatican II, Sister Julia was also one of the first to reassume her birth name. Sister’s career includes 27 years at Nativity (which later merged with Annunciation and became Incarnation parish) where she was beloved. “My God and family led me to where I was meant to be. Here, where I am happy, and so grateful to be a part of this family.”


Sister Evelyn Dettling

The temperature in the room increases by at least ten degrees the minute Sister Evelyn Dettling walks in. Born in Canton, Ohio, Sr. Evelyn knew from the 5th grade she wanted to become a sister. When she told her father of her intentions, he asked her to consider the Benedictines. At 13, Sr. Evelyn came to Pittsburgh to live with the sisters and attend St. Benedict Academy. With the exception of one high school year spent in Canton (to help pay for her tuition, Sr. Evelyn worked at McCrory’s Five and Dime selling ten cent tubes of lipstick), Sr. Evelyn remained with the Benedictines and entered the monastery her senior year in high school.

Over a span of twenty years, she taught primary and secondary grades, and worked in campus ministry for Indiana University. Knowing that Sr. Evelyn had taken students to the Appalachian territory and recognizing the grit of the young sister, the then prioress, Sr. Bernadine, asked Sister Evelyn if she would be interested in establishing an Appalachian mission for the community. Thrilled, Sr. Evelyn developed a proposal for the Community to review. The Community approved, and shortly after, Sisters Evelyn, Maura, and Corinne became residents of Fleming-Neon, Kentucky. At the time, Catholics represented less than .1 of 1%. Almost immediately, Sr. Evelyn began working with the Glenmary Priests and Brothers as Director of the Commission of Justice. The focus was to build bridges between the church and land, labor, and racial justice groups. The work was something Sister Evelyn found, “challenging, satisfying, and rewarding.” One of her responsibilities was to work with the Christic Institute as a jury researcher. The Institute was defending an African American man charged with murder. The team was later able to prove the accusers had hired a murderer to commit the crimes in order to frame the defendant. In the rural south of the 80s, particularly in coal towns, civil rights, and union marches were very dangerous undertakings. Sister Evelyn was not deterred, “I remember walking down the street and the Ku Klux Klan was gathered along the length of the road. They were yelling horrible, frightening things, but we kept walking right past them. We sang all the way. We sang beautiful hymns, hymns that lifted your heart. It was so faith based”

Today, Sr. Evelyn works as the Coordinator of the St. Athanasius Education and Community Center. A woman who lives very much in the present, Sr. Evelyn paces herself to meet myriad responsibilities. When asked what the years have taught her, Sister Evelyn says, “It has been such a privilege to have met so many people who care about others. Every morning I ask myself, “what are you going to do with this wild, and wonderful, life?”


Sister Corinne Moeller

Sister Corinne Moeller joined the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh in 1953 in her senior year at St. Benedict Academy. She made her vows in 1955, 60 years ago this year. Sister Corinne always planned on becoming a Dominican nun, “I loved their habits!” However, her appreciation for the Benedictine prayer life, and style of community-living eventually won her favor. Quiet and pensive, Sister Corinne describes herself as, “a happy introvert.” She earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education through Duquesne University and full certification in Library Science for elementary school. She taught 24 years in the 1st through 5th grades five of which included administration and teaching library science skills for the 1st through 8th grades. In 1978, Sister Corinne began to question how her ministry was providing for the poor.

Determined to do more, sister requested assignment near the Appalachians and was assigned to outreach in the small coal town of Fleming-Neon Kentucky. In Kentucky, Sister volunteered as a tutor for 1st and 2nd grade school children, and became a buyer for food supplies at the newly formed Letcher County Emergency Food Bank. Through two floods Sister worked with FEMA and the Red Cross processing residents, and recruited and began a craft group in Whitesburg, Kentucky with hopes of having a craft show. (The group went on to have a craft festival shortly after sister returned home.) When sister returned to the monastery Sister Corinne became the Information-Referral-Outreach Specialist for 20 northwestern townships for the newly formed St. Benedictine Center ministry under the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging.

Cancer interrupted Sister Corinne’s 12 year career. With limited energy and the need to attend to her own recovery, sister chose a volunteer information and referral ministry for Catholic Charities. Sister worked 1,000 volunteer hours in the morning doing data entry, and spent each afternoon receiving radiation. Cancer free, and reflecting on her ministries, Sister Corinne states, “Kentucky was such a high point. It touched my life, deepened my feelings, and the empathy in me. I became closer to people. It’s not about “us.” It’s about others. We need God in our lives. It’s only then we see the needs of others, and truly understand the circumstances that created those needs. In the last chapter of St. Benedict’s Holy Rule, Benedict says the Rule is only a “beginning. My life has been full of ‘beginnings.’


Sister Kathleen Mack

Sister Kathleen Mack entered the novitiate of the Benedictine Sisters in 1938. This year, Sister Kathleen is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee…75 years.

Through a career that lasted 51 years, one of Sister’s greatest joys was teaching. Today, Sister still enjoys board games, some television, the Pirates and Steelers, and her family ties.

Sister’s advice: “You will receive back what you give to others. So love, love the people around you and love what you do. Live from your heart and your heart will be filled.”


Sister Norma Weigand

Sister Norma Weigand entered the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh before her senior year of high school began. This year, Sister Norma is a Jubilarian. Sister Norma was an elementary educateacher for 48 years, a principal for 8 years and also served as site manager for Meals on Wheels and director of the nutrition center at the Benedictine Senior Center.

 

 

 

View the 2014 Jubilarians

View the 2013 Jubilarians

View the 2012 Jubilarians

View the 2011 Jubilarians

View the 2010 Jubilarians

 

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