God used Protestant friends to reveal His will
By Sr. Veronica Volkmer, M.S.
God has an amazing way to let His will be known. He used my Protestant friends to lead me to a religious vocation.
When I returned to Nebraska after attending college out of state, I was hired as a teacher in a small Nebraska town that had no Catholic Church. Most of the people there belonged to one of three Protestant denominations that had churches there. I attended Sunday Mass in my own home parish, since I was still living with my parents and siblings some distance away.
Because Catholics were a minority, I was asked many questions by students and peers. Although I had attended Catholic high school and college, I must confess that much of what I was taught went in one ear and out the other! At the time, those lessons didn’t seem to have much bearing on my life. However, when I began to be questioned on why Catholics did this, or why they believe that, I had to go to my pastor to give me the explanation that I lacked.
During those two years at that school, I learned much about my own faith while relaying the pastor’s information on to my students or friends.
One night after chaperoning a school “sockhop,” (Do you know what that is?) I went with a group of students and friends to the local café for a hamburger before going home. The topic turned to religion and more questions were asked. As I went home that night, it dawned on me what a great treasure we had in the Catholic faith. There was a reasonable and wonderful answer to every question that life had to offer. Christ was the greatest psychologist there ever was—He had given us something in the Catholic Church to fill every human need.
I felt an urgency to spread the good word. Had there been an Oprah Winfrey show at that time, I would have gladly broadcast the greatness of the Catholic Church to the whole world.
After two years of teaching in this small town, I began teaching in Lincoln’s public school system. One Friday I had missed the morning First Friday Mass in my Lincoln parish. Going back home for the weekend, I asked my mother if there was an evening Mass anywhere near. My high school brother and sister were going to Plattsmouth for a deanery youth event which included a Mass, pancake feed, and dance.
Between the pancake feed and the dance, the Marian Sisters gave a vocation talk. I asked a question of the sisters which put Father Peter Gadient (now deceased) “on my case.” He did not relent until I made a weekend retreat at St. Thomas Orphanage, then on South 27th Street in Lincoln. I agreed to make the retreat.
In a conference with Father Edward Tuchek (also now deceased) during that weekend, he asked if I had a religious vocation. My reply was that I was thinking about it.
His terse reply was, “There are some women who are 80 years old and are still thinking about it.”
I could see myself as one of those procrastinators. This spurred me on to give a calling to religious life some serious thought.
By the end of the retreat, the Spirit blessed me with much peace with the thought of pursuing a religious vocation. The rest is history.
I entered the Marian Sisters the first of August in 1958. I am almost 80 years old, and I am still thinking about a religious vocation and am so very glad that I did more than just think about it 56 years ago. I also am still thanking my Protestant friends for giving me a reason to look deeper into my priceless Catholic faith.