Sr. Genevieve is a retired teacher (having worked 65 years in education) who now lives at our provincial house in Hankinson, ND. When my parents were there last weekend, my mom took the opportunity to visit with her and hear her story so we could share it with you.
Sr. Genevieve had three sisters and a brother (one sister was a twin). They were raised on a farm near Kent, Minnesota.
As a child, she loved to read books about saints, especially children saints, and wanted to be like them. Her mother provided the books for her children. However, their mom was sick a lot and needed help at home. She would pray the rosary every night with the children; she always prayed her children would know their vocation and follow it. Early on, even in grade school, Sr. Genevieve had a premonition of being a sister.
After 8th grade, Sr. Genevieve took a year off from school, helping her mother who needed assistance at home. She believed she would be a sister but didn’t know where to go. They only had money for either her or her twin to go on to school. Her twin was always the leader and Sr. Genevieve followed in her footsteps. It seemed logical to her that she should go on because her twin sister was better at cooking, sewing, etc than she.
Their older sister (our Sr. Mary James) had joined the convent, and when Sr. Genevieve went to visit, she had a tour. In what is now the switchboard office, it came to her that this was where she was to stay; she knew she would become a sister here – at St. Francis Convent in Hankinson. So Sr. Genevieve began her freshman year at the school there.
This was a very hard time for her because she got so homesick. At that time, they weren’t able to go home nearly as often as now. Sr. Genevieve was quiet and shy and the other sisters mostly spoke German, which she didn’t understand. During this difficult time, she grew close to the Lord. Later, because of World War II, the sisters were not allowed to speak German and it became easier for her. Her parents could visit, once in a while, but they would bring their own food as it was scarce at the convent.
She finished high school and became a teacher. Her greatest challenge was teaching high school math. She took a few classes at the college during two summers – they were taught special classes to teach, cramming 3-4 years into a short time.
In her religious life, what she most enjoyed was the prayer life, retreats, workshops, and teaching vacation Bible school (preparing the children for first confession and Eucharist – they were so sweet and innocent.)
Thank you, Sr. Genevieve, for your Fiat, your “yes!”
Interview by Kathy Neumann