Sister Linda Zahner
For 33 years I ministered in the area of education. I was an elementary school teacher for eight years, then moved into elementary school principal positions in Missouri and Iowa for 25 years. Eventually as the executive officer for a consolidated Catholic school system in Iowa, I helped consolidate three Catholic Schools under one Board of Education. After resigning that position, I began my degree in Spirituality at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. I completed my certification as a spiritual director and retreat director from the Creighton Spirituality Program and began offering retreat days, get-away days and spiritual direction. I am a current member of Spiritual Directors International.
In doing the spiritual direction work, I began to have a deeper recognition of the holistic dimensions of our being and the importance of attending to our physical needs as well as the spiritual needs. I enrolled in massage therapy training at the Universal College of Healing Arts in Omaha, Nebraska. I remain nationally certified for my massage therapy ministry. Further studies and working with directees and clients led me to study Eden Energy Medicine and to become a clinical practitioner.
I share my areas of ministry with sisters in the monastic community and at Dooley Center, as well at Sophia Spirituality Center and in the Atchison area. At Sophia Spirituality Center, I lead day retreats, silent directed retreats, spiritual direction, and offer therapeutic massage, contemplative healing touch and energy work. My desire is to use a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, integrating body, mind, and spirit.
I was inspired by the Benedictine Sisters who taught me in grade and high school. I always wanted to be like them. I really felt the call to religious life very early in my life. While it would wane off and on, it was God’s continual nudging that won out. Yes, I could do all these ministries as a lay person, but I do them from a different calling. As I taught and was a principal in elementary schools, the image of Jesus, “Let the children come to me” (Luke 18:16) was powerful. I felt called to do these ministries as a Benedictine and a witness to Jesus’ care for the young.
The Rule of St. Benedict is really a holistic approach to life. In it Benedict addresses our way of being with others, our monastic prayer, our sleep, our eating, the welcoming of guests and many other elements of life. Benedict’s concern was with the whole person. He addresses our physical needs, our spiritual growth, the communal environment and relationships.
The Rule encourages living a balanced life of work and prayer, making provisions for the young and old, for celebration and using our particular gifts and talents for the good of others. It is this holistic approach that has inspired and formed me. It is because of my being Benedictine that I uniquely meet my directees, retreatants, massage therapy clients and work with God’s creative energy in each person. I believe it is my Benedictine mind, my intention that sets my ministry apart. Yes, anyone can do the work I do, but I do it as a Benedictine sharing God’s love and grace as I can.
It is not always easy, but I strive to be faithful to the Rule and, as the last line says, “Let us prefer nothing to the love of Christ, and may he lead us all to life everylasting.” (Chapter 72:11-12)