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Feature Articles

A Sister to All – Sister Teresa Marie Laengle

How would you describe your ministry and your role?

I am involved with the Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP) retreat program for those who are homeless and in recovery from addiction. I am the Dayton, Ohio, area coordinator for ISP which involves setting up the retreat schedule with Bergamo Center, searching out volunteers to serve as facilitators for the retreats, ordering supplies, organizing transportation for retreatants, contacting agencies to find retreatants, participating in the women’s retreats and follow-ups and the co-ed reflection day, and writing grants to provide financial support for the program. In addition to being a part of ISP, I also minister as a spiritual director and am a liaison in the Sisters of Charity Congregation.

How would you characterize SC values?

As SCs we are called to meet the needs of the times. This involves being in touch with society and determining where the needs are and attending to them. We offer hospitality to any person we meet and are fully present to them. In our person we bring the presence of Christ to the world. The Eucharist has a special meaning to the SCs because our founder, Elizabeth Seton, was especially drawn to the Eucharist. In the Eucharist we find our sustenance for our lives and our ministry. As SCs we treasure the world in which we live and do everything that we can to preserve our environment for future generations. We also take stands and become active in social justice issues where there are injustices being done to humans and to our environment throughout the world. As SCs we believe in the need for community – of supporting each other in our personal lives and our ministries. We value life in all of its forms and do all that we can to preserve the dignity and human rights of individuals.

Tell us about the role of prayer in your life.

Prayer is essential in my life. Without the deep connection with God, I could not serve in the capacity that I do. I am conscious of God’s presence with me no matter what I am doing. God has sustained me through some very difficult times in my life. I find myself talking to God throughout the day asking for help in doing a task or for an individual who has a need. I find God present in those with whom I minister and in those to whom I minister. My favorite place for prayer and finding God is in nature. Somehow the beauty, vastness and uniqueness of nature draws me to God. I especially like being near water. I also find God in my artwork and journaling. The Eucharist is another form of prayer that sustains me and enables me to pray with the local community.

What does it feel like to experience joy?

When I experience joy I feel free of worry and anxiety. I experience a sense of contentment. I experience joy when I see students catch onto a concept, a woman release some of her burdens and laugh, or seeing an individual reaching their potential. When I listen to music, play music, draw, walk in nature or splash through lake waves, I find I am lifted to a different level of consciousness which allows me to be in a world beyond this world. I am moved beyond myself.

Could you describe a time when you provided spiritual guidance and you felt you made a real difference?

When I was teaching, I had a student who was using LSD. Somehow we connected – she would come in to help me in the lab. I contacted her parents and let them know that she was using drugs. She obtained the help that she needed to overcome her addiction and is living a good life today. I feel that I was instrumental in saving her life.