Garret Gundlach, SJ, Influenced by Dominican sisters at St. Catherine’s High School in Racine, Wisconsin
The Jesuits celebrate Women’s History Month with a three-part series, “How have you been influenced by Catholic Sisters?” The Jesuits were asked to “reflect on the religious sisters they’ve worked with and gotten to know.” Please see Garret Gundlach, SJ’s (high school campus minister and spiritual formation teacher at Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota) reflection below:
“The sisters at St. Catherine’s High School in Racine, Wisconsin, were a tremendous living symbol of God’s love and care in my life. Sisters served as guidance counselors, teachers and administrators at the school — highly professional servants of our families and us as students, young people discerning God’s call in our diverse lives.
I especially appreciated the sisters who, inspired by their own work in the transformative art of listening, created a student club called Peer Helpers. We Peer Helpers built community on a formational weekend that trained us in the important work of compassionate listening, and these skills — and the opportunities to share them with my classmates as a peer counselor — strengthened my desire and confidence in choosing a helping profession. I have since completed a Master of Social Work in mental health counseling and migration studies, pursuing these same skills in another important area.
The sisters of St. Cat’s were a persistent source of security, compassion and inspiration for their simplicity and dedication. It is safe to say that the seeds of my vocation were not only found but also watered in my years at St. Cat’s, no doubt thanks to the witness and explicit support of the sisters there. Whenever I return home, I love visiting the Siena Center (headquarters of the Racine Dominicans) to see old friends and pray with them; I also love visiting and volunteering at their Eco-Justice Center, a radically life-giving community of farming, animal husbandry, sustainable living, environmental education and prayer.”