Sisters' Words of Wisdom: Sister Marie Fujan, OSB
Sister Marie Fujan was born five days before Christmas and was named Mary Bell as she was deemed the new Fujan family Christmas bell. Sister Marie was the middle child of five, with three brothers and one sister. Growing up on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, to Bohemian parents, Frank and Marie Fujan, her childhood was robust and filled with chores, chickens, and gardening. One of her favorite childhood memories was playing football with her brothers. She remembers wearing her snow pants even in summer to protect herself from getting tackled in the backyard. Another special family memory was being a junior bridesmaid for her sister, Delores, who was eight years older. Sister Marie was very elated to be selected and adored the honorary blue hooped skirt dress for the special occasion.
Sister Marie was blessed with a best friend who she met in third grade, Sister Virginia Matter. Initially, Sister Marie was signed up to go to the College of St. Benedict but decided to make a surprise course change from small town life and go to St. Paul's Priory which exposed her to the contrasting busy city life. She added, “It was an easy choice when you see both your male and female friends making the journey into a devoted Catholic life. The positive influence made each step and career progression easier.”
Sister Marie recalls one day at the Priory as a novice. She was on a walk on Summit Avenue and passed a mother with her child. The child said to the mother “What is that?” The comment was in reference to Sister Marie dressed in a black dress, black stockings, and head covered. At that time, Sister Marie asked herself the same question in self-reflection as she was struggling with making her commitment. Her life journey was just beginning, and many questions came to mind.
Sister Marie received a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of St. Catherine’s in Home Economics Education in 1960. The Prioress at that time decided the Monastery needed a Home Economics teacher. She felt Sister Marie would be perfect in that role. She went on to receive her Master of Science degree from the University of Minnesota in 1969 and taught home economics at Archbishop Murray Memorial High School and Hill-Murray School. Sister Marie remembers a special parent day celebration where the students invited their parents to the “House of Fujan” named after their favorite Home Economics teacher where they prepared and served foods from around the world. Sister Marie adds, “’They prepared’ is loosely used,” as Sister Marie was left solo and up until midnight chopping food for the event.
In 1996, Sister Marie was elected Prioress and was later re-elected for a second term. Sister Marie expressed that the re-election was a time of reaffirmation for her where she had to step-back and ask herself again what was being asked of her. “Life is indeed God’s will,” and she states that “it was truly a Godsend for it was a wonderful life and one I am extremely grateful for.”
Sister Marie later served as Vocation and Formation Director for 11 years at St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul and then invested fifteen years at St. Therese Home in New Hope devoted to Pastoral care. She enjoyed her time where she saw a lot of people come and go on their life journey before she retired to St. Paul’s Monastery.
Today, Sister Marie loves to read. Currently, she is reading for the second time “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins about the hardships of a devoted Mexican woman who had to leave behind her life and escape as an undocumented immigrant to the United States to get away from the drug cartel. Sister Marie also enjoys walking with pure moments of solitude in nature. “It’s the best thing for you,” are her words of wisdom for a healthy life. One of Sister Marie’s favorite scriptures is Jeremiah 31: 33, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (RSVCE).