Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, WI

Life after full-time ministry: A time to contemplate & share wisdom

We asked four Sisters who have recently retired
to reflect on the transition from full-time to part-time or volunteer ministry
and the gift this new chapter in life offers.

From what full-time ministry did you retire?

I finished my eight years as Community President in June of 2017. Just recovering from major surgery and facing a hip replacement and cataract surgery I needed to heal before taking on another ministry.

What ministries are you involved in today?

At the present time I am involved in spiritual direction and retreat work. I am available for Community service and help by driving Sisters to their appointments. When time permits I do volunteer work where needed.

What attracted you to your current ministry?

I was trained as a spiritual director and had been involved in retreat work for 30 years. I was on staff when the Chambers Island Retreat House was in operation; ministered at St. Anthony’s Retreat Center in Marathon and prior to my Community responsibilities served at the Norbertine Center for Spirituality in De Pere.

I had been encouraged by others to continue in spiritual direction ministry after I finished my Community leadership role. I enjoy walking with people on their spiritual journey and giving presentations on religious topics. It was natural for me to continue in the ministry for which I was educated and love.

Why is it important for you to serve others?

As a member of my Franciscan religious community my life is centered in Word, Cross and Eucharist. Each of these realities is based on service. If I am true to that which I profess then service to others must be a priority whether in the world at large or my own Community.

What do you see as the purpose of retirement?

It is important to note that we do not retire from religious life but from the schedule and responsibilities of a full-time ministry in order to be available for areas of life that we have not given much attention to in the past.

Retirement is a time of transition from doing to being ... a time to establish a sense of self-worth apart from externals ... a time to make peace with the decisions of the past ... a time to accept what cannot be changed. What used to support me in life may no longer be there. It may be hard to let it go because it was good but I can’t retain it any longer.

Retirement is a time to share our life experience and wisdom with others … to tell our story … to listen to another’s story. Retirement is a time to slow down and reflect more fully on the beauty which surrounds us in persons, places, and creation … a time to more fully appreciate the gifts given. It is a time for the contemplative … a time to wait on God … a time to be open to the future ... a time of letting go so that I may live on.

What has been the gift of retirement?

Pope Francis stated in one of his letters: “Age is a time of grace.” The grace (gift) for me has been the time to heal in body, mind and spirit … the time to relax and enjoy a slower pace of life. I have been able to enjoy my Community, family and friends in a more relaxed way. The words of St. Clare to Agnes of Prague are a reminder to me:

For all that was, give thanks.
For all that is, give thanks.
For all that will be, give thanks.
Place your mind in the mirror of eternity.
Place your soul in the splendor of glory.
Place your heart in the being of our God;
be transformed.

Sister Donna Koch

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