Vocation Story of Sister Chris Kean, OSB
As a child I emulated the Sisters who first taught me in grade school. These were Incarnate Word Sisters from San Antonio, TX. My first grade teacher was young and fun and I liked her very much and wanted to be just like her. As I went through the next few years of school in Texas I had other Sisters many of whom carried reputations of being “tough” teachers, but all whom I liked and got along with very well. It was during this period of time that I thought sure I would like to become a sister. That is until my older sister announced that she was going to the convent! While I was proud of her for entering, it also kind of dashed my dreams of becoming a nun. I thought that there was no way that there could be two of us from the same family in the convent. So, my thoughts were put aside for awhile.
When I was in high school we were talking about the future and I was very uncertain. I thought I wanted to teach, but didn't know much else beyond that. I remember lying on my bed one night thinking and it hit me that I could still be a sister. I went to my mom and said something to her about wanting to enter the convent. It was probably not the right time to say what I had in mind because her answer to me was something along the line that they would never let me in until I learned to clean my room! Hopes dashed again! So, once more I put my thoughts aside.
Later after I came to college here at the Mount I was down in the cemetery one day with a friend and we were sitting up by the crucifixion scene. I remember her telling me that she could never see herself being here. I on the other hand thought well, yes, I could. Interestingly enough, we both ended up here only at different times! But I kept thinking I'm not sure I'm good enough because I'm not my sister.
After graduation from college I moved away from here for a year and thought little more about religious life. I was teaching with the Franciscan Sisters from Dubuque, IA. While I prayed with them occasionally, I was never drawn to them as I had been to my first teachers or later to the Benedictines while I was in college. After that first year I was hired to teach at St. Matthew's grade school in Topeka by Sr. Mary Luca Lagar and my love affair with the Benedictines was on. I really enjoyed the sisters with whom I taught at St. Matthews and even though I was only there for two years, I credit them for rekindling the spark for religious life within me that had dwindled over several years.
I left St. Matthew's after two years and then taught at the Academy of Mount St. Scholastica for five years and lived here in Atchison. I got to be very good friends with many of the sisters on the staff of the school and I came to know the community well as I prayed with them often on the weekends and then stayed to have Sunday lunch. During this time I also got hired to work part time in the maintenance department. So I worked summers mowing the lawns and painting and then fired the boilers in the winters. I've often said I got my vocation on the back of the tractor and in the rhythmic noise of the boiler room. There is some truth to that statement because both of those jobs gave me the time and the solitude I needed to be alone with my God and to listen to what God had to say to me. It gave me a chance to look around me and see what I was in the midst of and what I could be and was being called to do with my life. I have never regretted a single moment of it. I was nearly 30 when I entered. I've never regretted the time I spent on my own after college and I have never regretted having come here either. Both were good experiences for me and just what I needed.
I have experienced a very rich and diversified life since coming to the community as well. I have been blessed to serve the community as a member of the leadership team of the maintenance department. I was the first administrator of The Mount Community Center which was a corporation we formed to use the buildings that had been our former college. I was allowed to go to school and study mortuary science and become a licensed funeral director and embalmer. But my true heart belongs to God and this community of women who daily share their lives of love and hope with me and give me mine.