Sister Connie Kramer
Years in the Congregation:44 years
My favorite quote is: “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” – French Proverb
For Sister Connie Kramer, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” She is very grateful that Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College since this is where Providence designed that she would meet the Sisters of Providence. In 1948, her oldest sister, Mary, came to the college as a freshman and, in the next 16 years, all six Kramer girls graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Sister Connie was the youngest of the children in her family, in which there were six girls and four boys. Only one brother lived to adulthood.
Three additional “Providential moments” in the fall of 1962 changed the course of Sister Connie’s life. Her sister, Julie, entered the Sisters of Providence, the Sisters of Providence sent sisters to Arequipa, Peru, and Sister Marie William Hoerner (RIP) gave Sister Connie a copy of “The Journals and Letters of Mother Theodore.”
All three had significant influence on answering her call. “After Julie entered, I began to interact with Sister Bernice Kuper, who was the postulant director. She was very helpful. She was willing to listen to me, hear me out, and respect me as a person who struggled with some of the community rules at that time,” Sister Connie said. “The Sisters going to Peru caught my attention because, like Saint Mother Theodore, they had the strength they needed to go into the unknown. I believe that their prayer life and community life empowered them, as it had Saint Mother Theodore in 1840, to do what God called them to do at a given time in their lives.”
Perhaps the strongest influence came, though, when she read Saint Mother Theodore’s Journals and Letters. Sister Connie had dreamed of marriage and family life for herself, but when she read the words of Saint Mother Theodore regarding the Indiana mission, “If Eucharist is present, I will go,” they struck a chord in Sister Connie’s heart and she said to herself, “I can do that.”
All of her life, Sister Connie had watched her own mother begin her day with Eucharist followed by a devotional Way of the Cross. Each and every day from when she was a toddler until she was an adult, Sister Connie treasured going to church with her mother because she was always deeply touched by her mother’s unwavering faith in God and trust in the transforming power of the Eucharist.
This example of her own mother’s deep love for the Eucharist made it easy for Sister Connie to resonate with Saint Mother Theodore’s core belief in the centrality and power of the Eucharist in her faith life. Then, one day as Sister Connie sat in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, she simply heard a voice inside of her say, “you could be a sister, too.”
Sister Connie felt as if Saint Mother Theodore, herself, had spoken to her, and in the silence of that moment, her spirit quickened as she felt a deep sense of peace and acceptance of where Providence would lead her. Looking back on that day, Sister Connie said, “The decision to follow where Providence led me was, and is, still the most significant, challenging, life-giving decision I have ever made in my life. I thank God for the strong faith of my parents and the many faith/religious/spiritual experiences of my youth, which led me to religious life.”
Sister Connie was a licensed high school teacher when she entered the Congregation in the fall of 1964. She expected to use her education in a high school classroom, which she did for the first 10 years of her religious life. In 1970, when she was both a high school teacher and business officer, Sister Connie was involved in the sale of Providence High School in Clarksville, Ind.
This experience was transformational for her in that it confronted her with her own powerlessness over other people, places and events as she dealt with the challenges involved in selling a beloved communitysponsored school. This experience deepened within Sister Connie a conviction that the ministry belongs to God and we are simply privileged to be part of it for a little while on our life’s journey.
During the 44 years of her religious life, Sister Connie has enjoyed the opportunity to minister as a high school teacher and business officer, a religious education director, a parish pastoral associate and a parish life coordinator. She is very grateful to both her family and religious community for all the educational/formational opportunities that prepared her for each of these ministerial roles, especially her master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Trinity College in Washington, D.C.
Since 1991, Sister Connie has ministered as part of a loving, faith-filled small inner-city parish community of St. Ann Parish in Terre Haute, Ind., where she now serves as parish life coordinator. In this role, she performs all pastoral administrative duties except those reserved to an ordained sacramental minister. In 1997, the Sisters of Providence chose to sponsor a medical clinic for poverty-level uninsured people which is housed on the first floor of a recycled school building at St. Ann Parish.
In 2003, Sister Connie created an agency, Saint Ann Community Outreach Services of Terre Haute, which includes a parish food ministry and an emergency dental services program. These outreach programs have put a face on the Providence of God for thousands of people who face personal economic challenges in a seven-county area. Sister Connie serves as director of the Outreach Services and the Dental Services, in addition to her duties as Saint Ann Parish Life Coordinator.
An awareness of God’s Providence has been part of Sister Connie’s inner being for as long as she can remember. She writes a gratitude list each night that continues to increase her understanding of how much Providence provides for her and for all of the world.
Each day she asks God to move her own sense of powerlessness to self possession, to possibility and to peace. She asks to see the world as God sees it and to accept that all people do the best they can with what they have in any given moment. She also asks for the grace to turn her life over to the care of God, and to allow others to be part of God’s care of her.
Then, trusting in God’s Providence, she acts as if she has what she needs to be of service to God’s people with whom she lives and ministers. Teihard de Chardin has said, “Who can say what God would fashion out of us, if trusting in his word, we dared to follow his counsels to the very end and surrender ourselves to his Providence?”
Sister Connie believes that her religious vocation as a Sister of Providence has been the greatest gift she has ever received from our Provident God for which she is deeply grateful.
And to women who might be discerning their own call to religious life, Sister Connie’s message is simple: “Take time to explore and respect your own questions, then seek out those who can help you answer those questions. In prayer ask to know God’s will for you and for the power to carry it out. Finally accept where God leads you with a grateful heart and all will be well.”
Favoritesfavorite scripture passage: Luke 1:46-55, the Canticle of Mary
favorite food: salmon
favorite flower: rose
favorite movie: The Sound of Music
favorite TV show: NBC News
favorite vacation spot: the ocean
favorite childhood activity: Swimming, singing in a children’s choir
favorite recreation: Sharing time with family and friends.
favorite hobby: Candle making: I have enjoyed making wedding candles for family and friends for decades.
favorite sport: football
favorite music: All kinds of music; it’s a vitamin for my soul.
favorite animal: collie
favorite holiday: Christmas
favorite author: Teihard de Chardin
favorite saint: Saint Mother Theodore Guerin
favorite animal in the zoo: bear
favorite outdoor activity: walking
favorite season: summer
favorite style of music: sacred music