Sister Suzanne Homeyer, VHM
I entered the Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis on All Saints’ Day in 1995. I was 46 years old, ‘a delayed vocation’ as some might say. I prefer to think of the various vocations, jobs and avocations throughout my life-time merely as stepping stones that God has put on my unique path through life. God is a God of surprises! I didn’t like the idea a kindergarten teacher suggested on a report card when she wrote, “would be a good teacher!” I fought against that idea in college by taking so many non-education classes that the only way to combine them by senior year was to put them under the umbrella of ‘teaching minors’. The result was a secondary education teaching certificate with enough areas of expertise to get me a variety of substitute and teaching positions from 7th grade to junior college, in several states and for several years. I was able to pay the bills and pick up 2 MA’s; travel to many places domestic and international and pursue a few glamorous careers such as news director at an NBC affiliate radio station and managing a coffee shop in a Victorian train depot!
Along the way God was gently leading me down another path. One that included political activism; founding a Catholic Worker House, sponsoring a Vietnamese boat family; being a city council representative and working with youth at a teen leadership camp. This path made its way into and out of church groups, civic organizations and other places where God showed me his people —- people in need; people who had more than they needed; people who all were my brothers and sisters. God invited me to make a permanent commitment to living life with and among His people and here I am doing just that in north Minneapolis.
When we take vows in our community we expect to live right here until God calls us home, we transfer or we found another monastery. The God of surprises this year offered me the opportunity to attend an International Forum of Vowed Men and Women in Rome. This special gathering marked the end of the Year of Consecrated Life called by Pope Francis and I was able to meet with 39 other Visitandines from as far near as Brooklyn, New York and as far away as Rwanda. I look forward to the next stepping stone God will place on my path!
Sister Mary Margaret McKenzie, VHM
HOW I chose Visitation:
My spiritual director gave me a catalog with summaries and pictures representing the various religious orders so that I could look for a “fit.” In those days it was our version of “Match.com.” The habits were important to me, because if I had to wear one, I wanted to look like it had meaning and was wearable. They were all questionable because they seemed so out of touch with authenticity and inspiration. I wanted to be a religious woman without facade, because, as in a marriage, there is so much work to do if you live relationally.
WHY I chose Visitation:
I was a degreed RN by profession. When I turned toward the religious life, I searched out the contemplative communities for options because it was my way of initiating a life of wholehearted self-giving.
My younger sisters’ name was Jane, and from early childhood I had a slight acquaintance with St. Jane Frances Freymot de Chantal whose name we loved to chant.
After visits with several orders, I still hadn’t found the right fit. By the time I visited the St. Louis Monastery (the monastery where several of the Visitation Sisters originated) my options had run out. In spite of questions and concerns I knew I was going to have to make this one work if I really wanted to be a nun.
WHY I celebrate my choice:
I am a Marquette woman, educated by the Jesuits when they were doing much of their teaching in person. I wanted to be a Jesuit.
Imagine my delight as all of the connections between the Jesuits and the Visitation unfolded. The Visitation, as the Sisters lived the contemplative life, was fertile ground for a neophyte exploring a life of prayer. I found the strong community life very supportive. Most of all, I found our Salesian Spirituality based on love and lived out in prayer and community to be highlighted with a wholeness/common sense that does not allow for the canonization of dysfunction.
Living in this small, urban monastery in the “’hood,” I am inspired by my fellow sisters and neighbors. We interact, supporting one another in a spirit of faith and hope that has opened the way for God to build our beloved community out of the dailiness of lived life. This lived life is guided by the spirituality of St. Francis and St. Jane de Chantal who lived the Gospel as a way of love.
Sister Karen Mohan, VHM
When I was growing up in a Mississippi River city at the “Gateway to the West,” I could never have imagined that I would end up near the origin of the “Father of Waters,” right here in Minneapolis. Can you guess my birthplace? Yes, my family is from St. Louis, Missouri, and Sister Karen Mohan is my name.
River imagery still gets my attention, and kayaking, swimming and riding my bike along the Mississippi River Parkway near us are leisure activities I really enjoy! I also appreciate the stillness of water with its invitation to open my heart to the depths of love that God offers.
My education at the Visitation Academy in St. Louis was the beginning of a long and blessed calling to “Live Jesus,” the motto of our order. My undergraduate degree in English and my graduate degree in Spirituality have enabled me to serve the Lord as an educator and spiritual guide.
I treasure the moments to meet Jesus in personal and communal prayer and in the wonderful people who come to pray or just be with us. You’re welcome, too!
Sister Katherine Mullin, VHM
Hello! I am a native of Minnesota, born and raised in Minneapolis. Attending high school at Visitation in St. Paul gave me the best of both worlds! It was there, at Visitation that I met the best nuns in the world! After college at Marymount in New York, I entered the St. Paul Monastery and began a life of intentionally living the Gospel shaped by the spirit of Sts. Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal, which invigorated me. I chose Visitation over other orders that I knew, because I found the nuns to prayerful, authentic and fun! Maybe I was hoping to be all those things too!
I spent many fine years teaching at Visitation in the middle school and later had many wonderful years doing admission work for the school.
I believe I had a “call within a call,” when I discerned that I was being called to transfer to the Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis in 2001. I am in relationship with our neighbors; tutoring children, helping with our teen group and various other groups, but you might say that my main engagement is to connect and visit with women all over the country as they discern their future in religious life or wherever God is leading them.
Sister Mary Frances Reis, VHM
Greetings! I am a native of St. Paul and one of six children. I was raised hearing my mother’s stories about boarding for twelve years at Convent of the Visitation School in the same city. When I was a sophomore at St. Catherine’s College, I discerned that I was being called to live a life of intimacy with God in the midst of this beloved community of sisters who had served as “family” to my mother.
I went on to earn my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, (St. Kate’s) a certificate in Montessori Education (Los Angeles Montessori Training Center), a master’s degree in Administration (St. Thomas University) and a master’s degree in Religious Studies (St. John’s University).
I chose Visitation primarily because of the HUMAN qualities I found in the sisters, both through my mom’s boarding stories—she went to Vis for 12 years as a boarder—and through my own experience of their gentle, human, loving presence. I was attracted to the “down to earth” spirituality that allows one to “Be oneself and be that well.” They were always available to me.
I taught in grades Montessori through 12 at Visitation in Mendota Heights, did extensive work in liturgy (one of the loves of my life), founded the campus ministry program and chaired the religion department. I am grateful for the small role I played in the formation of young people.
Through the years, unknown to me at the time, I was being prepared for the Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis. This was powerfully revealed to me one day as I drank from the cup at Eucharist. “I have prepared a contemplative heart in you; now take it to the poor,” a voice seemed to say.
I am a founding member of this monastery and have been here since the beginning (1989). Sharing life and love in this urban community suits me very well, and I have found several niches in which to use my gifts—to share and to receive love from the people who are our neighbors.
Among my heroes are these greats: Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day and Sister Mary Regina McCabe, my high school religion teacher.
There is a saying that there is not PEACE without JUSTICE. We/I continue in small ways to put this maxim into action through prayer, presence and advocacy. May Jesus live in those we accompany and who accompany us.
Sister Mary Virginia Schmidt, VHM
My name is Sister Mary Virginia Schmidt. I was born and raised in Mexico, the only daughter in a family of five brothers. I was educated by the Visitation Sisters in St. Louis, Missouri, and then went on to receive my bachelor’s degree at Manhattanville in New York. I continued my studies at St. Louis University and St. Xavier College, earning two masters degrees. After resisting the religious tug for years, I decided to give in to the calling my senior year in college. I entered the Visitation because the sisters I had in high school were the ones I knew and loved best. They had a lovely, gentle and unpressured spirit that drew me once I finally made up my mind to try the religious life.
I try to reach out in the community by teaching Spanish and theology to 4th grade and high school students. And it was recently my distinct pleasure to lead my religious federation committee in writing the booklet “Justice Shall Flourish: Changing the World From Within.”
During my free time, I thoroughly enjoy reading Don Quixote and other novels, listening to public radio and watching movies.
I have a heart for peace and equality. I am certain that God is with and in the world, inside of every person. I feel strongly that God wants us to be happy and to love one another that he wants us to live in union with him. I take daily inspiration from my neighbors who are so brave, so humble and so faith-filled.