In honor of the Sister To All Campaign to tell the stories of Sisters across the United States, we would like to share with you four of our featured sisters in ministry.
A Friend to Prisoners and a Sister to All
Sister Regina Marie Bernet, OP
For decades the Dominican Sisters of Springfield have engaged in ministry to women and men in prison in the United States and in Peru. Sister Regina Marie Bernet, OP (Order of Preachers, the official name of the Dominicans) continues that tradition. While many of her classmates from Sacred Heart Academy graduating class of [1954?] retired long ago, Sister Regina Marie continues her ministry, bringing the gifts of self-knowledge, forgiveness, and reconciliation to women and men who are incarcerated. She travels weekly to prisons in Decatur and Lincoln, Ill., providing art therapy and teaching contemplative prayer practice. Twice a year she also leads weekend retreats at the Jacksonville Correctional Facility. One of her favorite encounters was with a young man named Fernando who asked for time with her one-on-one to share his story. Fernando shared many stories about the offenses he committed, many much worse than the one that sent him to prison. “Fernando told me he didn’t have a grandmother growing up,” Sister Regina Marie said. “He asked me ‘Would you be my grandma?’ I told him I’d be happy to be his foster grandmother. I don’t see him any more but I remember to pray for him every day.”
Hermana Doris Terrel Jiménez, OP
In the midst of last spring’s celebration of fifty years of presence in Peru, the Dominican Sisters of Springfield rejoiced in the rite of perpetual profession of vows of Hermana Doris Terrel Jimenez, OP. (Hermana is the Spanish word for sister.) “God shows us his love by taking us to sacred places to be with Him,” Hermana Doris says. She recalls her discernment of this journey with God, saying that by “letting God be God in my life” she was able to say yes to God’s call Hermana Doris is a student at the Padre Tezza School of Nursing in Lima preparing for a new ministry of healing among the poor and marginalized in Lima’s pueblos jovenes. She says it was the Dominican pillars of prayer, study, preaching, and common life that drew her to the Order of Preachers (the official name of the Dominicans) and why she remains.
A Helping Hand for the Weary and a Sister to All
Sister Barbara Ann Bogenschutz, OP
“The greatest blessing and challenges in this ministry are the same,” says Springfield Dominican Sister Barbara Ann Bogenschutz, OP (Order of Preachers, the official name for the Dominicans). “I never known what the day will hold, and I am never lacking in ‘that-was-a-first’ experiences.” Sister Barbara Ann has spent most of the last 15 years of her ministry in Native American communities. Since 2012 she has walked the holy ground of the Oglala Sioux at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. She ministers to all the people on the reservation regardless of their religious affiliation, often accompanying families at the death of loved ones, resolving home heating problems, distributing food, or sharing Holy Communion. “Eucharist continues in many ways all week long,” she says, “And when I arrive where I am going, I always find God is already there.”
A Peaceful Presence and a Sister to All
Sister Samuella Volk, OP
Hospitality is a virtue that the heart recognizes in an instant, especially if that heart has encountered Springfield Dominican Sister Samuella Volk, OP (Order of Preachers, the official name for the Dominicans). Whether the guests are her own Dominican sisters and associates, or executives from one of the sisters’ sponsored institutions, Sister Samuella helps them feel at home instantly with her warm attention to their needs at Siena Hall on the campus of Dominican Sisters of Springfield Sacred Heart Convent. In her previous life Sister Samuella taught primary school students in Illinois and Minnesota. She left an indelible mark of the Spirit on the hearts of many of them, if her former student Billy Menor is to be believed. “Ever since I had Sister Samuella in first grade I’ve had a warm spot in my heart for women religious,” the Jesuit novice said. “I really think that the witness of Sister Samuella’s life, the way she lived the joy, was an influence on my own religious vocation.”