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Finding my vocation in a long line of religious

Editor’s note: In this final blog for National Vocation Awareness week, Sister Kathleen Dede shares the story of her vocation. Her family may be one of the most unique we know in terms of vocations to religious life. Every one of her parents’ children — five daughters and three sons — chose a religious vocation to become either a sister or a priest!

First grade is the first time I remember thinking about joining the convent. I was sitting in the first and second grade classroom when I happened to notice the outfit Sister Rose Vincent was wearing. Out of the blue I noticed her long black skirt, pleated in the front and gathered in the back. I thought it was the most beautiful outfit I had ever seen. I thought to myself, “I want one of those. And I’ll have to be is a sister to get one.”

Sister Kathleen Dede, center, with her two sisters who are also Sisters of Providence, Sisters Eileen, left and Mary Mark, right.

I don’t think I thought of it again until the eighth grade. I had four older sisters already in the convent. The one next to me in age had applied to the Sisters of Providence High School for girls who hoped to become sisters, but had been told to wait to enter until after high school to apply. They thought she just wanted to be like our three older sisters already in the Sisters of Providence. A Benedictine priest was at St. Ann’s that summer. He asked Dad if he minded if he talked Benedictines to her. Dad gave his pat answer: he supported us in whatever we did as long as it was honorable. So off Patty went to Ferdinand for high school and ended up joining the Benedictine Community.

When I had graduated from St. Ann’s, I also wanted to go to the high school at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to become a sister. But I was told the same thing: apply after high school. I was so upset that I was actually sick for a few days — but off I went to St. Pat’s High School.

I will be forever grateful I wasn’t accepted. I didn’t study like I should have — but I sure had fun! We had slumber parties almost every Friday night after we had gone dancing at the Knights of Columbus. After school, my friends and I went to the Toasty Shop to meet up with guys from Rose Polytech. Ours was an all-girls high school, but we didn’t seem to have any problems meeting boys and having dates. I went to two proms and a couple of other formal dances. During my junior and senior years, I at times would feel this nudge someplace inside of me that felt like restlessness. It came often when I was setting my hair getting ready for a date or going roller skating and many other things I loved to do.

In my sophomore year I had what for me was a strange experience. I went in to St. Ann’s Church for a visit after school. As I knelt there, I prayed God would somehow tell me if I had a religious vocation. I cannot explain the sensation I had, but my whole body was engulfed with God’s love. I then said to God I would give up candy for the rest of high school to know if I should be a sister or not. I actually gave up the candy until I went to the convent. I don’t know if I could do that now or not. I am a candyaholic.

My happy life carried on and I graduated in June of 1953. The group which I “ran around with” continued to have fun together. Two of them entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Providence and all of us went to see them on their first visiting day. Then I decided I better start praying about this “sister bit.’ The result was that I entered the Sisters of Providence on Feb. 2, 1954.

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Sister Kathleen Dede

Sister Kathleen Dede

Sister Kathleen Dede has been a Sister of Providence since 1954. A native of Terre Haute, Indiana, she has degrees in education, social work and theology. She has ministered as a teacher and principal across the United States.

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  1. Avatar Paula Damiano on November 10, 2018 at 11:37 am

    thanks for your “yes”, Kathleen.

  2. Avatar Susan Paweski on November 18, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you for telling your story. I so enjoy learning the vocation stories.

  3. Avatar Brian Aull on May 15, 2020 at 7:12 am

    Hi, Katheen.
    Just wanted to say hello.
    You were my 5th grade teacher during the 1965-66 school year at St. Andrew the Apostle in Indianapolis.
    Shoot me a line if you get this.
    -Brian Aull

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