Dominican Sisters of Peace
As 2010 drew to an end, the Dominican Sisters of Peace closed a year of Jubilee commemorating milestone profession anniversaries of 23 Golden and Diamond Jubilarians, including two Sisters who were originally professed as Great Bend Dominicans.
Last year, these Sisters joined their congregation with six other Dominican communities to form the new Dominican Sisters of Peace. Today the Sisters continue in their ministries, sharing the Gospel in word and deed with a renewed sense of mission.
Dominican Sister of Peace Ann Metzen was born in Clonmel, Kans., into a family of two more girls and four boys. Even though throughout high school she began feeling a call to religious life, she kept pushing it out of her mind. God continued to repeat the call until she finally answered, entering the former Dominican Sisters of Great Bend. As she commemorates her 50th Jubilee this year, she says “When you feel you’re being called to live the life of a religious Sister, don’t ever think that your life will be boring or that you’re going to be deprived of so many things in life – not true!”
Sister Ann early discovered the ministry love of her religious life in the education of young children. It was with the encouragement of fellow Great Bend Dominican Sister Francesca Schinstock that she pursued a degree in elementary education. As a teacher of elementary children in parochial school of Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Nebraska, Sister Ann gave 33 years to students in grades one, two, three, four, and six, but really found her calling in teaching kindergartners. This was her love, her strength, and her great gift, especially to the School of the Magdalen in Wichita, where she not only taught the kindergarten for six years, but also engineered the renovation of the convent building into a perfect space for the youngsters.
Also trained in administrative tasks, Sister Ann served as school secretary for the Manhattan, Catholic schools for a year, and aided the Art of Learning Center in Wichita, for several years.
In 1998, Sister Ann was entrusted with the ministry of Coordinator of the Motherhouse in Great Bend, a position she still holds as she initiates her successor. When her second and third terms came to an end, she was once again asked to continue while the Dominican Sisters of Peace was in its initial stages of formation.
“Being asked to remain in this position for what has come to be a 12-year term, I have developed skills and abilities that I would not have discovered or used otherwise,” she said.
Sister Ann finds enthusiasm and commitment to religious life from a quiet reflective hour she has at the beginning of each day, which helps to ground her in peace and contentment as she lives out her call as a religious Sister.
Dominican Sister of Peace Betty Werner was born into a family of three brothers near the small town of Pretty Prairie, Kans. Her family nourished her vocation, and before she completed high school, she entered the former Dominican Sisters of Great Bend. As the year 2010 drew to a close, Sister Betty ended a year of Jubilee, celebrating 50 years since she professed vows as a Dominican Sister.
Looking back, she reflects, “Every person I have lived and worked with has profoundly influenced my life.”
It is perhaps prophetic that striving for “peace at home, at work, and abroad, and above all peace within my own heart” has been a lifelong guide to Sister Betty, since last year her congregation of Great Bend Dominican merged with six others to become the Dominican Sisters of Peace.
Her ministerial life began as an elementary parochial school teacher. When she was teaching in Westminster, Colo., Sister Betty experienced church as ministry extending far beyond her life at school. She was Eucharistic minister to the homebound, hospital visitor, counselor on wilderness hiking trips for disadvantaged students, member of the first Social Concerns Committee at her parish, support person for social and educational programs for students with drug- and alcohol-related problems, member of the FISH program whose purpose was visiting and assisting the elderly, and a volunteer assisting with recreational activities for the physically and mentally challenged. In addition to all this, she also served as a volunteer probation counselor for the court system in the Denver area. Later on she carried the learnings of these experiences to Walsenburg, Colo., where she was for nine years a principal and liaison between the parish and school.
Sister Betty also served the Great Bend Dominicans for eight years as Prioress and two terms as a Councilor on the congregation’s Leadership Team.
Since 1999, Sister Betty has been serving in Pueblo, Colorado – first as a fifth grade teacher at Goodnight Elementary School and then as Superintendent of Schools and Director of Lay Formation and Pastoral Life for the Diocese of Pueblo. Last summer, Sister Betty began a new ministry as Director of Lifelong Catechesis, in addition to her role as Superintendent. Along with visiting schools, she will now meet with every religious education director in the diocese of 50,000 square miles.
“If I thought I was putting miles on my car before, I will really be putting them on now as I visit every parish in the diocese!” she said, laughing.
Sister Betty’s enthusiasm and commitment for religious life is sustained by the four pillars of Dominican life: daily prayer, the many opportunities she experienced for education and study, ministry among and for the people she reaches each day, and community.
“The opportunities I have had for education, spiritual growth, ministry, and community leadership have challenged and enriched my life in ways I would never have dreamed possible.
“Religious life is the best kept secret in the world!”