A shout out out to the ones who carried the church
Listening to Bette Midler sing her classic song “Wind Beneath my Wings” has always been enjoyable. Not only is her voice absolutely incredible, but the lyrics are so inspiring and full of grace. They tell the story of a person acknowledging the support received from another. The sacrifice of one – working in the shadows – to the benefit of someone else.
That same thing happens in all walks of life. We often hear of one spouse putting a career on hold to help the other achieve their own goals and dreams. In the workplace, administrative staff support an executive who often ends up shining in the corporate spotlight. Parents make personal and financial sacrifices so their children have every opportunity to be successful.
None of us can do it alone. For every accomplishment, there are people behind the scenes who helped along the way. They aren’t flashy or out front, but they are there and vital. They are the strength to another person’s glory.
I was thinking of this over and over during my interviews with the Sisters who spent their lives ministering in domestic arts. For decades, these Sisters worked in convents, seminaries, assisted living facilities and retreat houses. They were cooks, housekeepers and launderers. They were often unseen and unheard.
Yet, they kept the church functioning, day by day.
Their stories are fascinating. They often learned on the job, relying on older Sisters to teach them the most basic skills. Some worked for bishops and a cardinal. Others served hundreds of seminarians three meals a day. They even fed an NFL team during training camp for many years.
The Sisters who served in this way lived quiet, spiritual lives, dedicated to the Eucharist and serving others. In that sense, they are the truest followers of Mother Maria Anna Brunner, foundress of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. Mother Brunner went to live in Castle Loewenberg to help with the domestic work in the seminary and brought with her a strong devotion to the Eucharist. Other women joined her, forming the community we have today.
Though now retired from active ministry, these Sisters continue to bake and cook for their own enjoyment or for social occasions. They laugh over stories of their days in the kitchens and laundries. Though they were never in front of a classroom or an assembly in a cathedral, they are the unsung heroes who enabled others to fly, being the wind beneath their wings.