Thursday, January 19, 2012

An Infusion of Story Tellers

Twenty-eight sisters from Saint Bede Monastery, Eau Claire, WI transferred to Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, MN in August 2011. As a result, the monastery in St. Joseph, MN received an infusion of remarkable story-tellers.

Sister Doris Steinfeldt is among my favorites. She has two qualities that immediately make me smile. She is fiercely independent and has never lost her capacity for sheer delight. I heard her reveal both of these qualities when she recalled how she needed to work 12 hour shifts and be on-call the other hours typically seven days a week. This was because she was working at a small hospital in Durand, WI and was the only one, day and night, who could draw blood or take x-rays for emergencies. Apparently her gift of high energy helped her continue this for years. However, in winter she would get restless, wanting to get exercise with her favorite past-time, figure skating.

One day as she looked out at vacant lot across the road, she decided she would hose it down to see if she could create a rink. Her garden hose wasn’t particularly effective at this. Then she noticed in the local paper that people could write a note to Santa at Christmas time and Santa would respond. She thought, why not ask for a big hose from the fire department and see how Santa might respond.

Of course, on Christmas Eve she was shocked when a fireman appeared at her door holding a giant hose. She thanked him profusely but he interrupted her. He said, “You know the men need to practice hosing each week, why don’t I arrange to have them do their practice in your empty lot.” And that’s how she got to do figure skating right across from the hospital all winter. She is now 85 years old. Only last year did she give away her treasured figure skates.

Her stories and her presence remain so energizing that I’m tempted to say what a colleague recently said about someone she admired, “Because of her, I think I can almost believe in human cloning!”


  1. Great story! Thanks S. Mary Rachel for sharing it.

  2. I have 2 connections with Sister Doris. One happened before I was born. My family lived in Durand, Wi. My father was severely injured and required care from Sister Doris. Many years later when I applied to a radiology program, my mother told me of her kindness. Sister Doris ran the program and was a task master, but a fair one. I owe her plenty. I have had a career many envy and am still employed part time. She has touched many lives. I thank her for what she did for me, my parents and all the others. I am blessed to have known you. Lana

  3. Is this the Sr. Doris that was head of the rad tech program in Eau Claire @ (then) D.O.T.I.? If so, MANY THANKS, Sr. D. for all your dedication and inspiration! We all may have crabbed about 'the Nun', but the impact you had on our lives (especially mine!) helped shape us into who we are today! Be Well & God Bless!
    JB (nee:N)