Sister Suzanne Homeyer, VHM
My earliest contact with the Visitation Sisters was at a Newman Center in Michigan. As a lay person I served as a member of the Pastoral Team, devoting most of my time to liturgy, RCIA and peace and justice programming. The two priests on staff were Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. For me, these men exemplified Salesian Spirituality in many ways, and when given the opportunity to meet women who espoused this same spirituality, some deep bonds were formed. Their example of living a life of prayer and community and service to those living in the inner city of Minneapolis immediately resonated with the “more” I sought in my own life. At the age of 46, I entered the Visitation Sisters of Minneapolis, becoming their first novice and new member.
I professed final vows in 2002. To honor our order’s 400th birthday, I served on the committee to celebrate this anniversary and was also part of a pilgrimage to our French monasteries to mark this special year. The power of seeing firsthand how others live our charism was tremendous and makes me realize that I have chosen the right place to live out my commitment as a visitation sister. I contribute to the community as bookkeeper and field trip organizer. Water color painting, visiting museums and reading mysteries are ways I like to relax. I have many friends around the world from my “life before Minneapolis” and am a practitioner of the lost art of handwritten letters! I admit to using e-mail as well, but prefer the old-fashioned pen and usually notebook paper.
I have always enjoyed meeting people and seeing different parts of the world. Immediately after graduate studies I packed up all my belongings and, with my dog and a good friend, headed West. I lived in a tent in Prescott National Forest while working as a radio newscaster for an NBC affiliate. This was an exciting job and my “home life” was really so dependent upon things like sudden rainstorms, campsite neighbors and late breaking news. I learned to rely on the grace and strength of God, my own gifts and creativity and an openness to new relationships in order to feel fulfilled.
Working my way through college found me pulling second shift duties at a nursing home for sick and elderly nuns and running a women’s dorm switchboard on weekends. This was in the days before cell phones and when most religious groups had their own nursing facilities.
Part-time jobs were always part of my life while “working for the Church” as a campus minister. As a coffee shop manager responsible for opening in the early morning and a closing shift server in an ice-cream parlor, I had many opportunities to meet and greet others God has put in my life.
Persons who have inspired me at various stages in my life are the earth-friendly poets Wendel Berry and Jessica Powers, the very ecumenical and fun-loving Pope John XXIII, and Daniel Berrigan and Dorothy Day for their faith-filled witness to the Church from the inside.
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 thatallows 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.
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.