Sister Annette Langenderfer, OSF
Sister Annette’s order received a $2500 grant for a scooter so Sister Annette can travel from her apartment to a local nursing home where she volunteers as a pastoral minister. She recently shared some her on-going vocation story with SOAR!.
At the high school she attended, Sister Annette encountered many congregations of Sisters, but the Fransiscan Sisters stood out to her; they were always happy and it was easy to talk and spend time with them.
“Sternness was NOT one of their characteristics. The Sisters relaxed after classes and they were fun to be around,” she writes.
Whenever possible, Sister Annette says she, too, tried to bring joy to the people she ministers to.
“Often times it was just being the ear they needed at the moment in the process of a struggle,” she writes.
“Peace came to many who entrusted themselves to me in the annulment process. Also ministering as a team member with RCIA brought great joy. Helping a mother find peace after an abortion was another source of joy. I think my greatest joy has been in bringing peaceful solutions to situations by keeping the doors of communication as open as possible.”
Sister Annette writes that similarly, her greatest challenge has been “keeping the lines of communication open at times when those lines were/are unreasonably in danger of closing due to half-truths or no truths.”
She said a favorite time in ministry for her was when, at a parish where she worked, the transitions to a new pastor went smoothly for everyone.
“Yes, changes were made peacefully because the door of communications was kept open on all sides,” she writes.
In her years as teacher and administrator, Sister Annette said she has learned a lot from her students too.
“Having been raised in the city, rural life was not my forte,” she writes. “Yet letting the students teach me gave them the healthy attitude that all of us can teach AND learn.’”
Summers working as house mother or camp counselor for children from the orphanage where she taught also opened her eyes – and heart – as to how to relate with these children, who were growing up in very different circumstances than her own.
When she ministered in Mexico, Sister Annette remembered meeting a mother whose two-year-old son, Esteban, had a cleft palate. The woman’s neighbors told her not to let a doctor correct it, warning her he would kill her child. Sr. Annette gently persuaded her to meet with the doctor and the mother consented to the surgery.
“As she and I sat in the waiting room during the surgery, her tears flowed freely while we chatted and prayed,” Sister Annette writes.
“At one moment she gasped: ‘He’s alive! I heard him cry!’ Her tears became tears of joy. The doctor had not killed her baby and the neighbors were wrong. The insight I offer is to win the trust of the people concerned, no matter where or what.”
“In these conversations some of them talk about Christ’s presence with them in their pain and heartaches,” she writes. “These visits remind me about how blessed I am to be where I am at this point in my life.”
In closing, Sister Annette offers a “pearl of wisdom” which has been her mantra for years: “We walk by faith and not by sight.” “These words have helped me stay on the straight and narrow ‘Walk’ in many situations.”