Springfield Dominican Sister Katrina Lamkin knew at a young age she wanted to serve as a sister.
“A friend and I shared the same idea that we wanted to be sisters. I remember begging my parents to let me go to Sacred Heart Academy to continue my catholic education. It was during my senior year that I made the decision to follow God’s call after graduation,” said Sister Katrina.
Once in the community, Sister Katrina earned a degree in elementary education from St. Ambrose College. She taught at Christ the King School, Springfield, Ill and at Holy Rosary, Duluth, Minnesota. After earning a graduate degree, she served as a principal at St. Maurice, Morrisonville, Ill., and St. Thomas More, Elgin, Ill. And SS. Peter and Paul, Cary, Ill., and was an assistant principal at Rosary High School in Aurora, Ill.
Over the past 53 years in education she has seen many changes in the field.
“A lot has changed over the years. I enjoyed those I have worked with and for over those years. I can honestly say that I left a piece of my heart at each place where I worked,” she said.
She accepted an offer to take a six-month sabbatical and said the time away was good for her soul.
“I spent time out of state visiting Arizona, the UP of Michigan, Wisconsin; I was blessed to be part of a sabbatical program at Mercy Center in Colorado Springs. The sabbatical was a rewarding and enriching time for me and deepened my love of God and all of creation,” she said reflecting on her time away.
While on break she also prayed, asking God about the future.
“I kept hearing and felt like I was being called to serve the hungry,” she said.
At the end of her sabbatical after much prayer and dialog, Sister Katrina started her ministry at the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry in mid-February and volunteers five days a week.
“People come in for food on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and then we restock and sort items on Wednesday and Friday,” she said.
A steady increase in food prices has made an impact on the pantry as well as those who use it.
“I hear ‘this is the first time I’ve come here’ now much more than in the past. We know food prices have really escalated,” she said.
The pantry serves five counties including: Kane, Kendall, Will, DuPage, and DeKalb. Besides the weekly offering of sustenance, volunteers of the pantry visit various communities with pop-up pantry options for the elderly, low-income families, and women and babies.
“We also make boxes of food that are delivered to people unable to come and to Hesed House,” she said.
Sister Katrina works in the produce area of the market and finds the overall experience rewarding by the comments she hears.
“Like. ‘I am just grateful’,” Sister Katrina said. “Or some say ‘you don’t know how much this helps me.’ It is answering a real need, and it’s much appreciated,” she added.
Lending a Helping Hand
Sister Katrina considers the work just one small peg in the process of helping others and credits staff and volunteers for lending their support.
“We do a lot and are always looking for more volunteers. We all work hard and enjoy the time we spend together and work as a team,” she said with a smile.
Reflecting on her years of religious life, as an educator and now as a beacon of hope in feeding the hungry, Sister Katrina has one thought to share. “I am right where he wants me to be and I am grateful to be able to serve the hungry.”