Time to Develop Talents

October 10, 2020

21 days till National Vocation Awareness Week

St. Mary of the Valley School Photo 1990

In 1982 I began teaching at St. Mary of the Valley High School while also attending Portland State University to get my fifth year and participating in formation classes.  I taught a couple of classes at the high school then went to PSU for the rest of the day until around 4:00 when I returned for classes at the convent.  I was a busy little “first professed” as I continued to learn the ropes.  I enjoyed teaching at the high school very much and could see myself full time in the future.  I really appreciated teaching at our community high school.

My main assignment was to teach religion and I found enjoyment in coaching the jv Softball team.  Prior to 1991, St. Mary of the Valley was an all-girl school which went co-ed and changed the name to Valley Catholic.  My school experience as a youth had been co-ed and I was more at home in that environment.  I think it is good for youth to be with the opposite gender at school while they have their feet under their parent’s roof.  There are a lot of lessons best learned at home.

I realized how fortunate I was to be called to religious life and what satisfaction I got out of it.  A religious who dedicates their life to Christ has the time to do things that a married person with the responsibilities of family would not have in many cases.  I realized the many talents God had given me and I had the time to develop them.

The Rule of Separation

October 9, 2020

23 days till National Vocation Awareness Week – post 3 of 25

Preparing cookies for Christmas celebrations LtoR: Sr. Ruth Etzel, Sr. Maryann Giesel, Sr. Magdalene, Sr. Adele Marie

Fourty years have passed since I entered Religious Life.  Things have changed as the world changes.  Nothing stays the same and that is for the most part good, I think.  Not in all cases but mostly.  When I was in formation, we had what was called a “Rule of Separation” which mean’t if you were in formation you could not talk with the sisters who were professed.  Why? You are probably asking?  Formation takes place through the interaction with one formation director.  Every single person has a suggestion for how something should be done.  If you want a uniform formation for your members in religious life, best it be done through one, trained director.   In my day there were a dozen of us in various stages of formation and we were able to create a good community of young sisters.

Today, we no longer have the rule of separation, but we do have 4 Sisters in formation, three of whom are under the age of 30.  They are a wonderful group of young women who give me a lot of hope and confidence in our future as a religious community.   The Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon accept women between the ages of 18 and 45.  Even though we no longer have a rule of separation, the older sisters have an understanding of what should be deferred to the formation director.

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The Last Thing I Did…..

In December of 1979 I was asked to make a sign commemorating the area the Oregon Trail passed through Sherman County. I had just finished student teaching and had graduated from Oregon State University. I was waiting for February 3, 1980 to enter the convent with the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon in Beaverton. A women’s group in the North end of Sherman County asked me if I would make a sign for them. I told them I would be happy to do it. It would be the last thing I would do before entering the convent.

I was living at home on the farm near Kent, OR the southern most part of the county. Wasco was toward the north end of the County. Sherman is the second smallest county in Oregon, only Wheeler is smaller in both population and acreage. The Columbia River to the north, the Deschutes to the west and the John Day to the East cut out the shape of the county.

I found several good pieces of Douglas Fir in the loft of the barn. Who knows how long it had been there. It was just what I needed as it was two inches thick, almost a foot wide and 5′ long. I laminated the pieces together with pegs and clamps to get them to the size I needed. I went to work hand routering the design onto the wood. After finishing, I painted it and finished it. The whole project took about two weeks to complete. I delivered it to the ladies in Wasco and they got one of the farmers to put it up. I saw it over the course of 40 years as I traveled home from time to time.

My cousin, Carsten von Borstel who lives in the county told me the sign had been reported stolen this fall. Someone had seen it in the back of a pickup truck on its way out of the county. There was a lot of commotion on the Sherman County Facebook page over the sign. People were pretty upset by it. No one really knew the details of the sign or how it got to mark the location. My cousin, Carsten informed them. I reached out and told them I would make a new sign. I am posting a photo of the old sign on this blog and at a later date will post the new sign. I have finished routering it on a CNC machine and am in the process of paining it now. It is a different design entirely from the first one. Stay tuned!

1980 Oregon Trail sign commemorating site in Sherman County, Oregon where the trail passed through the county.



I’m not sure what could be more fun than spending time with you and your loved ones at Camp Howard this summer. As for me, I come to the office most days during the summer but stay at the camp in the evenings and parts of other days especially Fridays. It is a wonderful experience to be at the camp and breathe the great outdoor air. I would LOVE to share that with you!

Consider joining several of the staff and I for family camp July 31 – August 2, 2020 at Camp Howard. https://cyocamphoward.org/Layouts/evolved/Content.aspx?d=RehqjLdx3v1v43hsy7lfk%2bs3Y0h1XDUboIu9B1LISrU%3d

The reason I encourage family camp is that it is a great way for parents to check out the camp, initiate your children in the wonderful aspects of camping, and get a sense of what the camp and the people are all about. You will truly not be sorry!

Family camp is a great time for good conversations, rest, relaxation (we cook for you) and family fun. You sleep together in a cabin and enjoy watching your children participate in fun camp activities. There are also campfire talent shows where you and your family can come up with a talent act to do together.

Camp Howard is an ACA (American Camping Association) accredited camp with high standing in the camping industry. Please join us for the summer of 2020!

2020…Reflections on Entering a New Decade

Like many people, I like to usher the new year in by going through my calendar, making notes of the highlights and lowlights of the year, write up the highlights in my Christmas card and do a general self reflection as we turn the corner into January.

With the beginning of a new decade, it seems that deeper reflection is called for. As we look at our personal timelines, some of us are looking at the second half of the timeline, the downhill side! For me, that makes reflection as well as staying on track important!

I would like to share some questions I used from a Google search which I tweaked and made my own. I hope you might find them worthy to consider! Happy New Year!


What was one of my best decisions? How did it impact my life?

How am I thoroughly different today compared to who I was in 2010? How am I the exact same as who I was in 2010?

Which people have been the core anchors of my life over the past decade? Who have I relied on in my moments of need?

What has been my deepest suffering and what have I done to embrace it or heal it? How have I chosen to deny it or run away from it?

What have been my sources of deep wisdom, faith and intelligence?

Where have I already achieved intense excellence? Why did that happen?

What were my peak experiences of the past ten years that lead to joy and peace?

Have I found a tribe that I feel deeply aligned with? If no, what concrete things am I really seeking, and why haven’t I found them yet?

What are the most important memories of the past decade and how will I carry them with me?


What do I want to achieve in the next ten years?

Am I willing to embark on a bold adventure if life invites me on a journey?

What will I do for the first time in my life?

What will keep me grounded, mentally and physically in the years ahead?

What am I going to do to heal my traumas? How far am I willing to go to really deal with problems?

How am I going to do a better job of exploring and being my true self? (Spiritually, authentic personality, deepest talents, passions, artistic expression, inner voice.)

How do I see my relationship with God as a factor in how I will live my life the next ten years?

How am I going to fully activate in the years ahead? How am I committing to live the most dynamic, intentional, profound, authentic and aligned years of my life?


Bill Gates said, “We overestimate what we can accomplish in a year and underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years.”

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Plato

The unexamined life is not worth living, but the unlived life is not worth examining.” Andrew Klavan, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ

Holy Trinity Girls win 8th Grade Girls CYO Spike Championship

November 16, 2019

8th Grade Girls Spike Championships

Home Team: Holy Trinity (red)

Coach(s): Anh Khoa Nguyen, Zoe Nguyen,

Player first names: Chloe, Ericka, Kendra, Lauren, Lauryn, Mackenzie, Mikayla, Contreras, Taylor, Thanyi

Visiting Team: St. Matthew, Navy

Coaches: Lacey Puncochar, Marisol Levick

Players: Aspen, Elisabeth, Gillian, Jaydn, Macie, Mia, Sophia

St. Clare Girls Win CYO 7th Grade Spike Championship

November 16, 2019

7th Grade Girls Spike Championships

Home Team: Valley Catholic (Royal Blue)

Coach(s):Ferit Kivanc, Tonya Rogers

Player first names: Addison, Amelia, Soe, Melis, Tanya, Peyton, Gabby, Megan, Isabel

Visiting Team: St. Clare

Coaches: Stephen Hunt, Tamara Ollivier, Theresa Dreves

Players: Anna, Charlotte, Francesca, Gabby, Kate, Mia, Rami, Riley, Shannon, Sofia, Sydney


Set 1: VC 25 – 21

Set 2: SClare 25 – 14

Set 3: S Clare 15 – 9

All Saints Girls CYO 2019 Spike Champions 6th Grade

November 16, 2019

6th Grade Girls Spike Championships

Home Team: Valley Catholic (royal blue and white)

Coach(s): Julie Campbell, Brittany Hjelte, Karen Kustritz, Trinity Baumgartner

Player first names: Ansha, Ella, Iman, Isabelle, Julianne, Mehneka, Sahana, Samiksha, Sofia, Zola

Visiting Team: All Saints

Coaches: Jennifer Malen, Bradley Kincaid

Players: Anna, Capri, Faye, Grace, Grady, Hannah, Michaela, Milly, Quinn, Reese, Scarlett, Sophia

St. Clare Girls win CYO Spike 5th Grade Championship

November 16, 2019

5th Grade Girls Spike Championships

Home Team: Holy Trinity Red & Black

Coach(s): Maura O’Leary, Becki Shelly, Cristina Tassi, Elizabeth Flumo

Player first names: Lexi, Ashlyn, Ella, Hope, Bella, Jina, Liela, Malena, Olive, Preethi, Simone, Tanyi, ViAnna

Visiting Team: St. Clare Blue and White

Coaches: Molly Schick, Dan Joyce

Players: Elliot, Emery, Emily, Finley, Hazel, Jenny, Kai, Logan, Mae, Maeve