Held in the palm of God’s hand
Editor’s note: Today in our series for National Vocation Awareness Week, Sister Betty Koressel shares her story.
As a shy little second grader at Sacred Heart School in Evansville, Indiana, little did I know that the nudge I felt from God would take me where I am today! I felt in my heart that I wanted to be a sister, not knowing where or how or when at the time. My seventh and eighth grade teacher encouraged me to attend the Providence Aspirancy high school that existed at the time at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. It was for girls considering becoming Sisters of Providence. That set me on the path to fulfill the nudge!
I grew up in a loving, faith-filled family with five siblings. I attended Catholic schools throughout my career as a student. I entered the Congregation after graduating from the aspirancy. I spent one year as a postulant, two years as a novice and two years as a junior sister on campus before my first mission assignment. During that time I attended Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, where I obtained my bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
My teaching career of 21 years with students in primary grades was a very fulfilling experience. I taught in Palos Heights, Illinois, and in Evansville and New Albany in Indiana. I then earned a master’s degree in pastoral studies and Clinical Pastoral Experience. This benefited me greatly as I ministered among God’s family in my second career of 26 years in parish ministry. Parish ministry took me to Fort Wayne, Indiana; St. Louis, Missouri and Jasper, Indiana.
Every place I went, I enjoyed community life, praying, playing, cooking, as well as fulfilling other domestic duties to maintain the dwelling space I shared with my sisters. Praying individually as well as communally is a must in my life. As I age, these aspects have greater meaning for me. I realize that I have been held in the palm of God’s hand throughout my community life of 55 years. Time allotted to share meals, play and converse with my sisters is very important. I am very grateful for the many blessings of living in community!
I enjoyed interacting with my students as well as parents and parishioners in all of my places of ministry. I have been very blessed in every place! My greatest challenge was learning everyone’s name in a very short time frame. I placed my students in the classroom alphabetically until I was able to put a face with their name. In the parish, I took the parish directory and placed a star next to their name after I met them in person. Again, I was able to put a face with their name. I was very glad when I could identify everyone on a page.
We say in community that we do not retire. We recycle! I am now in the recycling realm of my community life. I find great fulfillment once again, interacting with my sisters and lay residents in Providence Health Care at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Relating with the residents one-on-one or in a group has brought me great joy. It gives me life! I am able to use the gifts bestowed upon me to help make someone else’s life a little lighter, brighter, and easier through tough times.
I also enjoy walking, hiking in the mountains, reading biographies and historical novels. At one point in community life, my mother taught me to crochet. I have been crocheting ever since when time permits. I now crochet baby blankets to be sold in our Linden Leaf Gift Shop.
I would not change any aspect of my life. The nudge in second grade has brought me to places and circumstances that I could not otherwise imagine! I continue to be grateful for my life. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I continue to ponder my many blessings with gratitude!