Thursday, October 8, 2015

Meet Our Sisters: Sr. Monica Backes, 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: Humphrey, NE
First Profession: Oct. 17th, 1960
Final Profession: Oct. 17th, 1963
Feast Day: August 27th
Mission Experience: 44 years as a Registered Nurse in Norfolk, Lynch, Wayne, NE and Graceville, MN

As I recall, my “vocation story” first began as an “Un-vocation Story” so to speak.  I remember the Franciscan sisters that taught us at St. Francis School in Humphrey to pray three Hail Marys for vocations.  I recall praying them very quickly and without too much devotion, not wanting such a calling for me!

At our mother’s encouragement, we six children always went to daily Mass.  I remember that in the winter we would use the lower level of the Church to save heating expenses, not having to heat the entire large Church. The Franciscan Friars would have the area priests and brothers make their annual retreat in Humphrey.  They would have Benediction each late afternoon and I recall the wonderful experience of the prayerful atmosphere, the singing, the incense, and the nearness of Jesus in the Eucharist in this small chapel.
We certainly were brought up in a very Catholic environment, due to the deep faith of our Parents, especially my mother. But it was not until I was a senior that I felt any inclination toward religious life.  One day in my senior year I was experiencing difficulty with a math problem and went to my Math teacher Sr. Dorothy.  In that encounter she asked if I ever considered religious life.  It was like a thunder bolt from above.  Though still very hesitant, I felt this was what God was calling me to.
Things moved quickly and by the end of my Senior Year I had my application in to enter the Franciscan Sisters of Colorado Springs in August.  Our local doctor encouraged me to work in Norfolk at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital the summer months before this, since I was also considering a nursing career.  It was at this time that God had other plans for me.  I was very much drawn to the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Norfolk, becoming acquainted with them through the hospital.  About six to eight weeks before I was to enter in Colorado Springs, I changed my mind and entered the Missionary Benedictines in late August.
My life as a Missionary Benedictine Sister has not been without its struggles, but I have always know that it was definitely the life for me. I love the Benedictine Spirituality of prayer and work and the accent on community life.  I value very much the time we are encouraged to give to the Lord in prayer – the Divine Office, Mass, Lectio and private prayer.  The “work” part of this life has also been very satisfying for me.  I worked as a Registered Nurse for 44 years in four different hospitals, operated by we, Missionary Benedictine Sisters.  This was a very rewarding profession for me.

What advice would I give to women discerning their vocation?
I guess, looking at my own calling, I would say: If God wants it for you, He will somehow let it be known.  And listening to other sisters “Vocation Stories” this can happen in so many diverse ways that only God could come up with them!  It is a leap, saying YES and taking the first step.  But our Loving God is there as our strong support.

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