Sisters' Words of Wisdom: Sister Linda Soler, OSB
Interviewed & Written by Ann Siverling, OblSB
“Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned the seat belt sign on. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened.” This is how one should begin a conversation with Sister Linda Soler, OSB. She is pure energy, and what a blessing that all that energy is directed to living a life to glorify God.
Sister Linda grew up in St. Paul, MN. She grew up with two older sisters, Theresa and Rita, an older brother Greg, a younger brother Larry, and a full-term baby brother, George who died three days after his birth. Sister Linda’s mom, LaVonne, died when Linda was eight years old. Her dad, George, went on to raise all five children on his own – keeping all five children in parochial school, St. Bernard’s.
Sister Linda can trace her Benedictine history all the way back to her baptism. She was baptized at St. Bernard’s Church (North End of St. Paul), which was a very strong Benedictine Community. Then she attended St. Bernard’s School (which was also Benedictine) for 12 years. Eventually she joined the Benedictine Monastery in Maplewood, and she currently works at a Benedictine school – Hill-Murray High School. She also is serving on the Interim Consecrated Life Committee for the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese. Sister Linda shared that when she joined the Benedictine Monastery, she was part of the very same community of Sisters that taught her in school.
After attending St. Bernard’s School, she initially went to chef training school, but soon found out that she actually didn’t like it. So, she took a medical terminology class and went to work for ophthalmologists in St. Paul. She worked as an Ophthalmic Assistant and enjoyed the benefits of her work – including every Friday afternoon off! The work was both rewarding and challenging, citing that she even assisted in the operating room on several occasions. She was able to continue this work right up until she made her final vows.
Sister Linda took her first vows on February 10, 1991 (the Feast of St. Scholastica), and purposely waited an extra year so that she could make her final profession on the feast of St. Benedict on July 11, 1997. Upon making her final profession, Sister Linda became the Vocation Director of St. Paul’s Monastery and was the Building and Grounds Supervisor. Then, Sister Linda went back to college to get her degree in Theology and certification in Pastoral and Catechetical Ministry. After graduating with honors in Theology, Sister Linda went to St. John the Evangelist parish in Little Canada, where she began ministry in faith formation. This gradually evolved into the position of Youth Ministry & Confirmation Coordinator. Sister Linda loved training the mass servers, saying it was, “true enjoyment.” She left this ministry when Sister Lucia called her to be the Sub-Prioress at St. Paul’s Monastery, and she eventually became a Life Coach.
After serving as Sub-Prioress under Sister Lucia Schwickerath, Sister Linda began working at Hill-Murray School in St. Paul, MN, in service and outreach. She did this for eight years until, once again, she was asked to be Sub-Prioress with Sister Catherine Nehotte serving as the Prioress. When asked what the main responsibilities of the Sub-Prioress roll, Sister Linda responded, “It’s the shortest job description in the Monastery – support the Prioress.” Sister Linda went on to describe her work as entailing the internal activities and needs within the Monastery. She co-supervises the Mission Advancement team and supervises Dietary and the Monastery’s fleet of cars. She works with volunteers, assists at funerals, oversees retreats, oversees the Jubilee anniversaries of the Sisters, and the Sisters’ meetings. She stated that every day is different and that her ministry is full of gentle surprises.
While being Sub-Prioress, she is also still working part-time at Hill-Murray School. Her role at Hill-Murray involves Sports Faith in Action, and “putting faith into all sports.” She helps the students to acknowledge faith in the sports activities, and to understand that sports is an extension of the academics. She talks with the students about teamwork in faith and scriptures, hospitality, outreach, and service. Drawing on her own experiences, Sister Linda also has a heart for the students who may grieve the loss of a loved one and can be a source of comfort for them.
At the start of the season, Sister Linda prays over the team, then, with the support of the players, prays over the coaches. She attends one game per team…except for football – they get her weekly! For the football team, she leads them in a prayer and meditation, attends pre-game meals, and prays with the team before they leave the fieldhouse. Before the match, each team touches the cross, and is reminded by Sister Linda that they leave whatever doesn’t belong on the field at the cross. After the game, she reminds them that what matters is that they did their best, and she prays with them one more time in the end zone.
Her presence at Hill-Murray is important to the students. They know that they can come to her any time. Faith in Action is another avenue for them to talk. In 2021, all the senior football players from 2020-2021 season signed a football for Sister Linda, which now sits on her office shelf. She treasures this football as a reminder to pray for the students and as an acknowledgement that the students appreciate her role on the team.
Sister Linda also shares her heart for the poor. One of the most powerful experiences she had was sleeping overnight in a homeless shelter with students in Minneapolis. Sister Linda, the volunteers, and staff made them breakfast, and Sister Linda said she could see the face of God in those individuals.
Sister Linda has had a lot of role models and people who encouraged her to become a Sister. Her grandmother, Lucy, was a woman of deep faith and went to daily mass and prayed the rosary 2-3 times each. Her Aunt (and her godmother) took Linda under her wing when her mom died along with her Aunt Mary and many other relatives.
Over the summer, Sister Linda loved being on her family farm. She would milk cows, bale hay, and even drive a tractor. Her dad was her hero and also an excellent example of faith for her and was thrilled when Sister Linda became a Benedictine Sister. For a time when her dad’s health was failing, she moved in with him to care for him. Sister Linda shares that both her biological and Benedictine families have been and are a foundation for her. On her desk, Sister Linda keeps a framed photo of her with her dad, with the caption, The love between a father and daughter lasts forever.
When asked what Sister Linda’s hopes and dreams for the Monastery would be, she responded, “That we can share our Benedictine values and our monastic life with generations of all ages.”
For fun, Sister Linda states, “The sky is the limit!” She shared that she likes the adrenaline rush of doing challenging things, and comments, “There isn’t much I have not done!” She has parasailed over the ocean and flown in a 2-seater airplane that was open. Sister Linda also loves technology and little gadgets and has done aerobatics in the past. She enjoys to travel, explore off the beaten path and make up her own tours, especially if it involves meeting new people and seeing new things. She is ecumenically minded; she adores visiting other houses of faith and worship. Recently, Sister Linda went on a mission trip to White Earth Reservation and learned about Native American Spirituality. On her “fun” bucket list, she would like to experience a hot air balloon ride and going on a zip line.
When one ventures into Linda’s office, one will find the things she is passionate about. To the already-mentioned autographed football from the Hill-Murray football team, St. Benedict and St. Scholastica are well-represented in her office. In addition, another passion of hers shows up in her office - Mickey Mouse. Sister Linda says she likes the “Classic” Mickey Mouse as seen on her smart watch, In addition, Sister Linda shared that she has a room that is a Mickey Mouse themed room (although she won’t say which room!).
Sister Linda shared that her favorite parts of the Rule of St. Benedict are:
- “That all things God may be glorified” (Chapter 57).
- “All guests are to be received as Christ” (Chapter 53).
- “The chapter on Good Zeal” (Chapter 72).
- “…let peace be your quest and aim” (The Prologue, vs 17).
- “…with the Gospel for your guide” (The Prologue, vs 21).
When asked for Sister Linda’s Words of Wisdom, she listed many: “Be careful as to how you live; you may be the only Bible a person reads”; “We are all called to give meaning to the mystery”; “Keep your sense of humor”; and “For Benedictines, we all are the fabric of the Rule and of our prayer.”
Thank you, Sister Linda, for your passion for your students, your energy, your gifts and skills, and your joy in serving all of us.