Thursday, March 3, 2016

Meet Our Sisters: Sr. Gabrielle Marie Oestreich, 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: Lansing, Michigan
First Profession: August 2, 1997
Final Profession: February 10, 2001
Feast Day: March 25
Mission Experience: Philippines, USA
The question of why I became a Missionary Benedictine Sister always seems to arise, especially if someone knows my background.  Why after a successful career as an officer in the United States Air Force, retiring as a Colonel, would I “give up everything” to enter a monastic community?  And the next question (usually from the men) is “what happens to your retirement pay?”  Of course the answers are both simple and complex.  Simple:  God called me here!  Complex: There has always been a deep desire to serve God as a missionary – to spread the Good News of Jesus far and wide.  It began as an awareness as a young girl and went through many stages of acknowledgement and denial as I went from childhood through adulthood.  There was always an unfulfilled yearning – a voice of ‘Come follow me’ – that I could never satisfy with all the success and comforts of the world.  God definitely led me to this community – to these my fellow sisters – to walk the remainder of this life’s journey to Him in this way of life.
It would be difficult to identify which specific experience has been most rewarding as a sister – there have been so many.  However, I would have to say working in the parish as Director of Adult Formation and similarly as Novice Director.  Both jobs have allowed me to journey with others in their quest for God.  Both experiences have been tremendous privileges to observe God’s grace at work ‘close up and personal’.
 Were there challenges?  Of course! There still are.  Adjusting to community life after being extremely independent and self-reliant has and continues to stretch me.  I believe one significant challenge has been the difference in which community decisions are made and actions taken.  My background formed me to be a person to quickly analyze the challenges we face, look at a variety of options, make the decision on a specific course and act.  This series of actions was quick and decisive.   Projects, challenges, etc.  are addressed – handled - and then forgotten.   Community decisions are approached much differently.  All members’ opinions are sought and mutual decisions made.  When one considers that not everyone in a group processes information or makes decisions at the same speed, you can understand how frustrating it may be to keep revisiting the issues/options until all members are ready to make a final decision.  This is never an exercise in efficiency – but normally takes 2-3 times as long to bring the entire community to the point of consensus.  This challenge of course has graced me with renewed patience – at times.  It’s always in God’s time – not mine!
For those discerning a commitment to religious life I would say – listen to your heart… God is speaking in a whisper and will never lead you astray.

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