Vocation Story of Sister Ann Diettrich, OSB
I was born the last of four children to Ruth and Henry Diettrich in Evanston, Illinois, on Oct. 13, 1939. They provided me with a happy home and childhood, baptized me in the Catholic faith, and gave me Catholic education from kindergarten into college. In my formative years in discerning what I wanted to be when I grew up, my two sisters were role models for me. My oldest sister, Mary, was a professed religious, and my sister, Rita, a new wife and mother.
I was introduced to the Benedictine way of life as a high school student ant St. Scholastica Academy in Chicago, where our chaplain was a monk from St. Benedict’s Abbey, where I became an Oblate Novice and where I earned a scholarship to the Mount. No doubt, it was there that I learned, as Benedict says in his Prologue to “listen with the ear of your heart”. I had, for a long time, wanted to be a primary teacher; it wasn’t until later that I heard God’s call to enter the community. My college teachers were mentors and through their exemplary lives influenced my decision.
The “Alpha” of my monastic journey was not a straight path to start, however. I entered after my sophomore year of college, became ill and left the community, returned to college then re-entered. I made 1st Vows on Jan. 1, 1963, and began what was to become a long teaching career at Holy Trinity in Lenexa, KS. I completed my B.S. in Education from the college, and then went on to earn a Masters in Early Childhood Education from National College of Education in Evanston, Illinois. The last half of my years of teaching was as a preschool teacher or director.
As I look back I am most grateful for the changes that took place in religious life during the post-Vatican years. Vatican II allowed me to branch away from the Catholic School System, and do childcare at Catholic Charities Community Service center, start an Early Childhood program and Center at our Donnelly College, and also direct the Family Care at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, all in Kansas City, KS. This gave me the opportunity to have membership and leadership in the parishes where I lived.
I continued to listen with the ear of my heart, and then I heard God calling me to a different ministry. When I retired from teaching after 30 years, I took four units of C.P.E. from Bethany Hospital in KCK. Instead of becoming a hospital chaplain, I chose to do parish work. For 20 years, I served as a Minister of Care at Our Lady of Unity, where I ministered to the infirm, elderly, dying and bereaved parishioners. As a monastic woman, this was a way, as Benedict would say, “to keep death daily before your eyes,” and “care of the sick must rank above all else.” I am proud to say that the Mount Ministry Fund through our benefactors helped subsidize my ministry for many of those years.
I always felt it was a privilege to be part of our Archdiocesan Church and to serve the people of God. I made many lasting friendships as our life journeys coincided. Also, My vocation story would not be complete without some reference to my involvement with the Benedictine Oblates. For over half of my years in community, I worked with the Kansas City, Kansas, oblates. They were my extended family, and some are still very much a part of my life.
The “Omega” of my monastic journey has brought me full circle back to the Mount. I retired in the fall of 2015, and am living here once again at the motherhouse. I am blessed to be doing ministry of care as a member of the pastoral care team in Dooley Center. I also am grateful for working with hospitality and guests in Bethany. My life in this community of Benedictine women continues to be a balance of prayer and work. With 50+ years of vowed life behind me, I look forward to the years ahead for more time with “ora” and less “labora.”