Sister Profile: Ruth Stuckel

 Sister Ruth Stuckel

Sister Ruth Stuckel began her journey in religious life at a very young age. Since 6th grade, she felt the call to dedicate herself to God as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Sister Ruth never wavered in her decision.  Becoming a sister gave Sister Ruth numerous new friendships, life lessons, and travel opportunities.


What was your motivation/inspiration in entering the CSJ community?
In elementary school, I was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph from first through eighth grades. They were my inspiration, especially, Sister Helen Louise Williams, my first grade teacher. During my eighth grade year, two of my classmates and I spent hours after school helping Sister Helen. We had a barrel of fun and laughed endlessly. I grew very fond of Sister. When she celebrated her 60th Jubilee in 2005, she accompanied me to Oxford University where I presented a paper for the Oxford Round Table. We are still close friends. My motivation for entering the CSJ community was my relationship with Jesus. I wanted to give myself to Jesus wholly by becoming a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

When did you know you had made the right decision in joining the CSJ community?
From 6th grade, I felt a vocation to become a CSJ. It was pretty clear to me that I would enter after high school, which was common in those days. During high school, I never wavered in my future goal. From the moment I entered, I knew I was where I wanted to be and where the Lord wanted me to be. My formation as a postulant and novice was fulfilling in every way: intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. In all my missions, I was grateful to God and the CSJs for being a member of the CSJs and serving God’s people.

How do you think you live out the values of a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet?
In the CSJ Consensus Statement, a Sister of St. Joseph is  “to love God and neighbor without distinction.” This is my mode of operation. Each person I meet I treat with a welcoming spirit and respect. Although they are not God, they are not other than God. When I fail to act such, I make amends, if possible. When it is not possible, I pray for the other party and carry no anger, hatred or the thought of revenge. Happily, the latter occasions have been few and far between. I use as my criteria, Galatians 5:22-3, “What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.”   

What is your favorite ministry you have served or been involved with?
My ministries have been three: elementary teacher of 4th through 8th grade for seven years; teacher of philosophy for 40 years, mostly at Avila University, but briefly at Fontbonne, Mount St. Mary’s, Kansas University, Harris-Stowe State University, and Exeter University, England;  Province Leadership (Provincial Councilor and Regional Superior) for eight years. I can honestly say that I did not have a favorite ministry. I thoroughly enjoyed each of them and put my whole heart and soul into the opportunity of forming relationships and of growing together.

What would you say has been the most rewarding time during your service as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet?
Each ministry provided many rewarding times. However, the service of regional superior was perhaps the most rewarding time because I got to know the sisters personally. Almost daily I had the opportunity to share with the sisters about matters that were important to them, such as, their  prayer life, community living and ministry experiences. To be invited into the sisters’ lives was profound, awesome and humbling.

What experience shaped you most as a person of God?
Growing up with my Irish mother whose awareness of God’s love and providence shaped me the most as a person of God. No matter what terrible thing might happen, my mother was confident that God would see us through it. “God never gives us more than we can bear” was part of her thinking. But God as a person was real to her and present to her day in and day out.

What is the best piece of advice you've received?
In the novitiate, Sister Winifred spoke about the indwelling presence of God. That reality strengthened me and influenced me even unto this day. The reality of God dwelling in each of us strengthened the reverence I had for myself and others. Later, that reality changed how I treated all of creation. All is holy because of the substantial union of God with all: the indwelling presence of God.

Do you have any “Aha” moments where you discovered something about yourself?
While studying at Fordham University, Sister Helen Alwes and I would spend Sunday afternoon sharing around a designated topic for the month. This day we had walked to the parkway and were sitting on the bench. The topic was friendship. Suddenly, I experienced a light going off in me and I knew with certainty: “In loving you, I do not love God less.” Previously, I always thought about the necessity of loving God first and all others after—a kind of hierarchy. As a consequence of that first and second idea, I often reserved myself and never really let anyone know me very closely. There was an underlying fear that somehow I would make another first and displace God. This new truth enlightened, enlivened and empowered me to truly love others without fear. In loving them, I was loving God also. Although they were not God, they were not other than God. Although my life up to this time had been rich and full, this realization made life more profound, wonderful and awesome.

What gets you on your feet and out of bed on tough days when you just want to stay in bed?
Upon waking, I relish the truth that all is a gift from God. My life is a gift from God and this day is a gift from God. What I do with this day is my gift to God in return. I am grateful for life and for the new day. I pray to glorify God by using my gifts generously throughout the day.

If you could address all of the people in the world, what would you say?
Let us take the position that Jesus took as he hung upon the cross. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Let us be people of good will. Let us begin to love our enemies and to work for a lasting peace.

What do you find most interesting or intriguing about the work you've done with the dear neighbor?
The most interesting aspect of the work I have done with the dear neighbor, namely, teaching, is to play a part in the awakening of another to wonder, excitement, awareness, and one’s own dignity and worth and in the process of teaching to realize I have been gifted by the other in multiple ways.

The most intriguing and humbling aspect of teaching is the invitation into the mystery of another person by one’s opening up and sharing innermost thoughts and feelings, thus relating in trust more as friends than teacher-student.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I like to visit with people, go on trips, take a walk, read a book, watch television, enjoy a meal out or attend live theatre.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
I loved sports as a little child and played all kinds of sports with my older brother. From eighth grade on, I played basketball and softball on very good women’s teams that participated in tournaments for national titles. However, I never considered becoming a professional athlete because there were so few then. Mostly, however, from my earliest years, my life seemed closely connected with God or Jesus. In 6th grade I knew I wanted to be a Sister of St. Joseph and I never wavered from that calling.

Where have you traveled? If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
My mother always said, “Join the convent and see the world!” I did and I have. I have been fortunate to work, study or live in all four of the CSJ provinces: Albany, Los Angeles, St. Louis and St. Paul. I have been to nearly all the states of the United States for one reason or another, including Hawaii. Through a student-exchange scholarship, I studied in England and with a Euro Pass visited Italy and France. For my Golden Jubilee, I was given a cruise to Alaska. My mother was right. I have been blessed with the gift of travel for which I am most grateful. I have enjoyed everywhere that I have lived. I would choose to live where my friends and/or family live probably. Specifically, southern California, where my sister Pat lives, seems ideal.

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