DECEMBER 2001: SISTER BERNADINE GUTOWSKI
The journey of life is indeed very interesting. At the present time, Sister Bernadine Gutowski works at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago, Illinois. Since the Hospital Sisters do not have any hospitals in Chicago, she never dreamed that she would live and work in Chicago. She currently resides just 30 short miles from where she was born in a house in Cicero. It was here that Sister Bernadine spent the first four years of her life.
When she was four years old, her parents purchased a small dairy farm close to where they were born and raised. It was in Stanley, Wisconsin that Sister lived and went to school. Her elementary education was in a small two-room schoolhouse in the country. Often she walked with her brothers and sisters the two miles to and from school after completing the chores on the farm. Sister Bernadine attended the public high school in Stanley. She was required to attend catechism classes during the week since she was attending the public school. It was at these classes that she first had any contact with sisters. Her dream at that time was to become a mother and have "a very large family". She had enjoyed caring for children and had already mastered cooking and caring for the house as one of the older children in a large family.
Two years after graduating from high school, Sister Bernadine began to work at St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. She worked in the Business Office during the evening hours. Sister Romaine Rommelfanger was her immediate supervisor. There were many other sisters stationed at the hospital. It was during this time that she began to learn more about the life of the sisters. She would often go to the Medical Records Department and visit with Sister Karla who worked there.
VISITING THE MOTHERHOUSE
In May 1959, she visited the Motherhouse in Springfield for the first time. With the apple trees in blossom, she found the beauty of the Motherhouse grounds impressive and the atmosphere peaceful and inviting. This memory remains vivid with Sister to this day.
She relates that she did not realize that working at St. Joseph's Hospital would lead her in a totally different direction. Less than one year after beginning her employment at the hospital, she resigned her position and entered the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. She made her novitiate in Springfield and continued her education in Business and Hospital Administration. She has served the community making significant contributions during her years in hospital ministry and community leadership. She served as Provincial Councilor for four years and as Provincial Superior of the American Province from 1995 to 1999. She initiated many new programs and projects during her term in office. Sister Bernadine's legacy continues to be developed by the Sisters leaving a memorable mark on the community.
WORKING WITH A DIVERSE COMMUNITY
Following eight years in community leadership, Sister Bernadine took a well-deserved sabbatical at CTU in Chicago. At the completion of her sabbatical, she began employment at CTU. She works with students adjusting to the American culture. The four-week program at The Christian Institute for the Study of Human Sexuality is an international program with students from many different countries. She is also an intern on the weekend program at the Institute for Spiritual Leadership. Again, this is an opportunity to participate with international students. She has developed a deep appreciation for the diversity and beauty found in ministering to people from many different cultures.
Indeed, Sister Bernadine has made a round trip from Chicago to Chicago. She remains amazed that the location of her present ministry is so close to the very place where she was born. What will be the next destination in her life's journey?