Sr. Christina M. Neumann
As I look up August 25 in the little name booklet kept in my “Office book,” I note that it is Sr. Gisholda’s anniversary of death. I keep this listing readily available; in our community, we remember our Sisters in prayer on their death anniversary as well as praying for them on their special days of celebration (name day and birthday).
Sr. Gisholda’s name and date of death will always stand out to me because, although I never knew her, her memory has its place in my vocation story.
It was on the day of her funeral that I arrived back in Hankinson for an extended stay. I had visited the month before for a few days in July of 2004. This time, however, I would stay a number of weeks.
After my initial visit, I returned home to attend a friend’s wedding and serve my time of jury duty. I remember still the words of the Sister who was hosting me when she showed me to the room I would occupy on my first stay there: “Don’t be scandalized,” she said, “our rooms aren’t all like this.” This is because the room they had available at the time was a rather spacious and well-furnished one, normally used for special guests. The one(s) they normally would have offered a visitor such as myself were probably unavailable for some reason; I don’t remember the details.
Another peculiar memory I have of my first visit with Franciscans in Hankinson was from a vacation school we visited when I was there. I went with Sr. Jean Louise as she was giving a “vocation talk” at a summer camp in nearby Foreman, North Dakota. In the course of events, she showed the children her ring and asked them if they knew what “IHS” (which is inscribed here) meant or stood for. One little boy ventured to guess to stand for “I hate Satan.” Some things, you just don’t forget! (In case you don’t know, in reality the letters in this monogram are actually an abbreviation for the Holy Name of Jesus in Greek.)
So why did I come back, and how did I eventually come to bear this beautiful ring myself as a Franciscan Sister in our community? I guess what I must say is: God has been good to me and has led me graciously along this journey. I do remember, from that first visit at St. Francis Convent in July of 2004, the sense of relief which engulfed me after much searching. I had felt called to religious life since the summer of 2000 but until then I didn’t know where I would be privileged to begin this journey.
In closing, may I use the words St. Francis’ did to close his own Canticle of the Creatures?: “Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.”