Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Meet Our Sisters: Sr. Kevin Hermsen, OSB

(Meet Our Sisters will be a Blog Series to get to know our Sisters from the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Norfolk, NE. Each month we will feature a new Sister and her journey to become a Missionary Benedictine Sister.)

                                               Born: Rapid City, South Dakota
                                               First profession:  April 15, 1974
                                               Final Profession:  December 12, 1977
                                              Mission experience:  Norfolk Priory
                                                     (Spent 6 months in the Philippines preparing
                                                      for final profession)
I really did not think much about a religious vocation in high school, but God had other ideas!  After completing training as a radiologic technologist I began working at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Norfolk.  Again, I had originally planned to get more training as a nuclear medicine technologist, but due to the politics of the time I did not get a scholarship so I had to get a job!

I couldn’t find a decent apartment and after a lot of searching the Sisters offered me a small apartment in the old hospital building.  Very nice because it was close to the hospital and inexpensive.  This brought me into closer contact with the Sisters because they were my landlords and I worked with them every day at the hospital!  I met several of the younger Sisters who asked me if I had ever considered religious life.  I immediately said “that isn’t for me!”  But the seed started growing in me.  I decided to re-locate to get distance and to think about a vocation more seriously.  I joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and was sent to Montana to develop immunization clinics for under five children.  After that I decided to come back to Norfolk and enter the community to give it a try.  So, why did I become a Sister?  Because God threw out the net and I was caught up in it, but in the end I didn’t want to escape it either, because I truly felt the call.

My most rewarding experience as a Missionary Benedictine Sister was having a part in saving the life of a man while I was working at Providence Medical Center in Wayne.  Of course, in my more than 30 years as a radiologic technologist there were several times when I was part of the team, but in this instance the man came to the emergency room in excruciating pain.  I happened that I knew the person….the physician ordered some x-rays before coming to see him from the clinic.  Because by that time I had quite a lot of experience in looking at x-rays I could see immediately that he had a life threatening emergency condition.  I immediately called the physician who came running and after evaluating what I had seen decided to send him by life flight for emergency care.  The man survived! 

Challenges?  Of course.  In 2001 I was called to leadership in my community as Prioress and served for 8 years.  There is no school to teach you how to handle certain situations, you learn by doing!  The two major challenges were when I was tasked with leading our community in divesting ourselves of healthcare ownership.  At the time we owned and operated three acute care hospitals and two nursing homes.  By 2010 the task was pretty much completed except for one final transaction.  In 2006 we decided to renovate our monastery.  This was a huge task!  We had to move the community to an apartment building for two years and put all of our belongings into storage.  Then in 2009 after completion of the project we moved back.  It was a learning process for all of us, but keeping all of the balls in the air at one time was quite a challenge because the projects….hospital divestment, construction, relocation etc. were going on simultaneously.  I hope I dealt with them gracefully, but there was a lot of stress.  I just tried to go one day at a time with things.

To those discerning…. don’t be afraid!   The whole novitiate is a time of discernment.  There is no shame in trying religious life if you feel called!   Perhaps after being in community you would think “well this certainly isn’t for me!”, or on the other hand think “Yes! This is where I fit”.  God calls everyone to a vocation of some sort.

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