Sister Elaine Fischer works on a monastery kitchen.

National Catholic Sisters Week: Sister Elaine Fischer

Sister Elaine's 'can-do' attitude keeps monastery running

As we continue our celebration of National Catholic Sisters Week, we introduce you to Sister Elaine Fischer, whose remarkable set of skills ranges from carpenter to biochemist. Sister Irene Nowell wrote this profile of Sister Elaine, which first appeared in the winter 2016 issue of Threshold.

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Gardener, carpenter, fire-fighter, EMT, eco-scientist, avid reader, friend and faithful monastic. Whenever someone has a need, especially if it is urgent—the first phone number called is often that of Sister Elaine Fischer.

Sister Elaine, daughter of Bernard and Rita Fischer, was born in 1965 and spent her childhood on their farm near Ottawa, Kan. She has a sister, Nancy, who died last year, and two brothers, David who is the oldest and John who is the youngest.

Two major events shaped Sister Elaine’s compassion and her “can-do” attitude. Her sister Nancy, just a year older than Elaine, was born with spina bifida, so Elaine became very creative in figuring out how to include Nancy in everything. Then when Elaine was eleven years old, her father had a serious heart attack, so Elaine and her older brother David did much of the farm work with her father supervising from the pickup. Emergencies and difficult situations are simply part of life for Elaine.

Elaine went to grade school at Sacred Heart in Ottawa, staffed by our Benedictine sisters. After high school in Ottawa, she went to K-State where she majored in bio-chemistry and also obtained an EMT certificate. She dreamed of becoming a doctor, but the idea of being a Benedictine wouldn’t go away. So she conferred with Sister Bernadette, her grade-school principal. Those conversations and others brought her to the Mount in 1987. She made her first vows in 1990 and her final profession in 1993.

Sister Elaine is currently the director of maintenance for the community. Before she took on that responsibility, she worked as an Atchison firefighter and EMT. She loves the land, beautiful wood, her family, and her community. We are grateful for her presence among us.