Sisters’ Words of Wisdom: Sister Sharon Schiller, OSB

Sister Sharon enjoys some special time with her parents, Joseph and Odelia, at her 1992 Diamond Jubilee.

Sister Sharon Schiller, OSB, is a Minnesota-born girl from the small town of Miesville, just south of the Twin Cities. Her father and mother, Joseph and Odelia, were farmers, and she had three brothers and two sisters. From an early age, Sharon learned a work ethic worthy of a farm family, as she would help unload corn and hay, and work in the garden with her mother. Her favorite chore was baking, and today Sharon admits she still loves baking cookies.

When she made her first profession on July 11, 1967, she continued her hard work ethic and dedicated herself to a life of service. For many years, she worked in childcare and as a secretary. At the Monastery, she continues to work in the library and at the front desk. Her education includes a bachelor’s degree in Education from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, a degree she earned after her profession as a Sister.

Before breaking her hip earlier this year, Sister Sharon would keep moving by using the NuStep in the workout room.

You can also see Sharon’s determination as she works to heal from a recent fall in which she broke her hip. I ask her what makes her keep going through what has been a difficult time struggling with Multiple Sclerosis the past ten years and now the broken hip. She says, “keep moving, do what you can, do not stop!” Sister Karen Sames chimes in eagerly that Sister Sharon “does not let it stop her.” Indeed she does keep moving as best she can. Along with other activities in the monastery, she does physical therapy two times per week and is seen in the exercise room on the NuStep machine.

Sister Sharon gathers with her family for her 25th Jubilee in 1992. Seated: her parents, Joseph and Odelia Schiller. Standing first row: siblings Dick, Joan, and Janice, and Sister Sharon. Back row: siblings Kevin and Francis.

Asked when she knew she wanted to become a nun, she remarks that she first felt the call in elementary school and knew for sure in high school. Her advice and words of wisdom for people right now are to stay in community with people as best you can. Her built-in community is the Sisters of St. Benedict, but she encourages all to stay in contact with friends and family.

Sister Sharon turns to prayer and the Beatitudes when she needs encouragement. These eight statements of blessing come from chapter five of Matthew and mark the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Sister Sharon reflects especially on “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” She adds, “We may not know for what reason someone mourns. It is important to be kind, gentle and supportive of all people.”

From Matthew 5:3-11 (RSVCE):

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Benedictine Sister Sharon smiles widely while working on the computer in the St. Paul's Monastery Healthcare Center.
Sister Sharon smiles widely as she takes a break from working on the computer in the Healthcare Center.
Sister Sharon and Sister Karen pose in the foreground as employees, Chris and Sue, look on (from a socially-acceptable distance).