Sister Louann Doering
Happy to be, to serve and to be greateful
To treasure the moment and be open to the Holy Spirit is a genuine desire. When one changes from a full-time career or ministry to retirement, one can often realize this desire more fully. This is true for Sister Louann Doering, retired from ministry as a pastoral associate in a cluster of parishes in northeast Iowa in July 2007. She is most serious about the present time in her life.
“This new stage is a time of ‘re-visioning’ – a time of seeing the meaning of religious life from a new angle,” Sister Louann states. “In active ministry there is a healthy tension between the necessity of ‘doing’ ministry, with its deadlines for preparation and of ‘being’ present to the persons involved.”
As she journeys in her fourth year of retirement, Sister is also attentive to the needs of others, doing errands for sisters and accompanying them to appointments or offering hospitality at the reception desk, to name a few. The added interests that enhance her days are reading, emails and visits from family and friends, board games and new learning experiences such as auditing classes at Clarke University.
“This so-called retirement stage allows ‘being’ to be the stronger part of daily experience,” she reflects. “One can be more relaxed to be in tune with the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and thus, be more alert to the needs and presence of others.”
Community life has been of special value to Sister Louann who remarks that the last six years of parish ministry offered her a bit of a challenge. “The people of the cluster parishes were wonderful and welcoming people, but I missed having a community of sisters with whom to pray and to share fun times.”
In looking back on her life, Sister Louann sees the influences of each stage. The carefree security of childhood is a treasured gift for her and she values being raised in a fun and loving home. “It was a home in which respect for others was a lived example. Especially evident was respect for Christianity in both its atholic and Lutheran dimensions,” she adds.
Reflecting on her years of full-time ministry she shares, “Teaching fifth- and sixth-graders was a special time. I enjoyed the children’s spontaneity. Teaching philosophy courses at Clarke College provided the opportunity to enjoy the growing wisdom of young people who were moving into adulthood. In parish ministry, the inspiration of sharing faith with those in the RCIA process is perhaps the highlight of my ministry experiences.”
Nano Nagle’s life offers inspiration to Sister Louann. “Nano’s life was high-powered and intense in her dedication to her schools for the poor and her care for those in need. Yet, she always made time for long hours of prayer after a day and late evenings of ministry. She always was a cheerful encouraging presence for her sisters.”
That same inspiration affects Sister Louann’s living in community. “I now have a more leisurely time for prayer and the privilege of getting to know my sisters with whom I never lived on mission. It is a very special gift to experience the depth of wisdom in the lives of my former teachers,” she comments. “I try to be a positive source of encouragement and joy.”
A grateful heart is a happy heart and Sister Louann is grateful for the opportunities to grow spiritually and intellectually and to be enriched by meeting a great variety of faith-filled and interesting people who reveal God’s goodness.
“A friend once told me that we act out of our perceptions. I think it keeps a person busy trying to make sure one’s perceptions are as close to the truth as possible,” concludes Sister Louann. “The strongest truth for me is still, ‘to be grateful, is to be happy.’ What an easy thing to be!”