Sister Profile: S. Jean Paul Selissen

Sister Jean Paul Selissen

What was your motivation/inspiration in entering the CSJ community?

Entering the Sisters of St. Joseph was a bit of a discernment for me.  I felt called to be contemplative, but I also realized that I needed to serve people in a more tangible way.  Having attended St. Joseph’s Academy in Green Bay helped me to realize that the Sisters of St. Joseph were the kind of women I would like to emulate.

What was your favorite ministry?

I have enjoyed all of the ministries in which I have been involved.  I like to have things organized and have a gift for doing that, so whatever I do must involve that as well as some room for the creative side of me.  Obviously the field of education gave me plenty of opportunities to exercise my gifts.  My ministry to our sisters in the finance office employs a lot of the same skills. 

What was the strongest influence in shaping you as a person?

I believe family is the strongest influence in shaping me as a person.  I grew up in a family that valued education, were strong in their faith, loved music and were enterprising and creative in running the household on the proverbial “shoestring.” The Myers Briggs Test Inventory and the Enneagram helped me understand myself and others a whole lot more.  It helped me understand why I feel the way I do about certain things, like using the telephone.  I rely heavily on visual cues and when I am on the phone, I have none. 

What was the most rewarding event in your life?

It is difficult to cite one event as most rewarding. But a significant event in my life was in 1976 when we had the children at our home in Georgia give a summer musical program for their parents. We celebrated the 200 years of our country with an hour-long musical program that meant a change of clothes. Because they were emotionally disturbed, neither the children nor their parents thought they were capable of such a thing. But both the children and their parents discovered that they were quite capable. 

What is the best piece of advice you've received?

The best advice I’ve received is to remember I am never alone, but God is always with me.  Each day is a new day.  It is important to be grateful for all opportunities.  I can learn something from each experience.  When I was in high school, I remember talking with our neighbor lady and saying I hoped I could grow old as gracefully as she did.  Her reply was, “You learn to do that by stepping aside for others when you are young.”

What is the greatest problem our world faces?

I believe the underlying problem our world faces is a lack of deep respect for oneself, and a lack of respect for others, because we all are God’s creation. I believe that respect builds a positive self-image, whether we are poor or rich.  I want to do all I can to reinforce actions that show others respect. Dialogue helps to build an understanding of the great variety of ways in which we experience our world, think about it and respond to it.  We can have fifty people in a situation, and each person experiences it differently.  

Coming to see the commonalities between us is great. But respect for our great diversity is also a treasure.  How boring life would be if all plants, trees, fish, animals, and rocks were all the same! People show the same great diversity. I like Mark Twain because he had a great sense of humor in understanding our foibles and the diversity among us.


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