National Catholic Sisters Week: Sister Cecilia Olson
Sister seeks God in community
As we continue our celebration of National Catholic Sisters Week, we introduce you to Sister Cecilia Olson, who has found God in community as she has served in parishes, classrooms and the monastery. She wrote this reflection on her years of religious life for the winter 2016 issue of Threshold.
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God has wrapped me in love from day one – from the love of two strong, caring parents to two fantastic sisters to living in a small town in Nebraska to attending both a grade and high school staffed by Benedictine sisters to belonging to a parish that was a central part of our family life.
That sheltered childhood was stretched when I entered this monastic community in 1963. Experiencing the unfolding of the Second Vatican Council, my attitudes were shaped and expanded from the theology of Church to the role of women to the primacy of liturgy. I quickly discovered that I was part of a community of Benedictine women who took seriously the spirit of the Council.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work as a classroom teacher, a parish liturgist, our community liturgist, music conservatory director and initial formation director. In parish work I was enriched in working with and beside strong, faith-filled lay men and women. Last year I found myself back in the classroom – this time team teaching a class in Benedictine Spirituality at Benedictine College with Fr. Meinrad Miller, a monk at St. Benedict’s Abbey.
I am grateful for the rich educational opportunities this community has given me over the years – opportunities that included summers at Boston College, the Rome renewal program and two months of intense study of the Rule of St. Benedict with Sr. Aquinata Bockmann.
The day I entered the community, my Dad hugged me and said: “There are two things I want to tell you: 1) If you decide to come back home, that’s fine; 2) If you stay, the thing that will make me the happiest is knowing that you will never be alone.” With the years, I have become much more aware of the wisdom of his words: “…you will never be alone.” This “school of the Lord’s service” has been for me an ordinary and extraordinary way to seek and discover God – never alone, but in company with my Benedictine sisters.