Sister Profile: Sister Michael Therese Bauer

Sister Michael Therese Bauer

What would you say has been the most rewarding time during your service as a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet?
I loved teaching the little ones. But probably my most rewarding time was when I worked at Nazareth in Sister Care. That work taught me to be patient. Sister Mary Thomas Cassian lost her vision. I took her under my wing and became aware of people who could not see. Sister Angelica put on little plays for the Christmas party. She got me to be the master of ceremonies. I would never have done that. She brought me out of my shell and got me speaking in front of people. My time at Nazareth made me more conscious and aware of people who cannot walk fast, so I slowed down. I really loved my seven years there. I would sing on the way to work.

What was your motivation/inspiration in entering the CSJ community?
I first met the CSJs in second grade at St. Thomas of Aquin in South St. Louis. I had Sister Ann Virginia (Frances) Kane, and missed a lot of second grade with chickenpox and the mumps – twice. She was very kind to me. When I went to Sts. Mary and Joseph in third grade, S. Kane lived in the motherhouse, and I’d walk her home. I loved working with the sisters, helping the sisters. They played with us, and were always happy, joyful. We lived seven blocks from the motherhouse. I took art lessons in the space where the finance office is now. Sister Theophila would bring big cookies for us. We had carnivals and picnics on the playground. The sisters came out for recreation at the corner of Holly Hills and Minnesota. We’d act silly, trying to show off. We knew they would be looking. But they never got after us. I grew up with the Sisters of St. Joseph, I guess. Always in the back of my mind, I wanted to be with them. Their lives seemed so simple.

When I was a senior in high school, I was asked, “What do you plan to do after graduation?” The CSJs had never asked or pushed. I said, “I want to be a sister." I was asked, “Have you told your parents. Don’t you think you should mention it to them?” So I told my mom. When she was so upset, I told me dad. He said, “Don’t worry about your mom. She’ll be okay.” He died when I was in novitiate.

When I entered the community, I was never homesick. The first night I remember lying in bed and being so at peace and happy to be there.

Who do you look up to and why?
Mother Winnifred was good to me when my dad got sick. He had cancer when I was in novitiate. Mother Winifred asked my parents if they wanted me to come home, and they said no. Since we only lived seven blocks away, once he could not come on visiting days, Mother Winnifred would have him over to talk to me. He’d walk over and I’d visit him in the yard. On the Father’s Day after I had entered, Mother Winifred told me, “We’re going to the hospital to see your dad.” She went to the chapel while I visited him later, she told me, “Take the crucifix off your rosary and give it to your father so after he dies, you have something he had.” On the Saturday before my dad died, I was in the laundry when Mother Winifred told me to come to the collation room and get something to eat before we go to see your dad. I was there when he died.

Do you have any “Aha!” moments where you discovered something about yourself?In the mid-1970s, I was teaching at St. Luke’s. I had gone to the motherhouse for a New Year’s open house when Sister Mary Laurent Duggan, the provincial, rolled down her car window and said, “I have a question.” The last time a provincial had asked me a question, I went to Hawaii for 10 years! “Sister Mary Hugh is sick and we need someone to work with the Mothers Guild. Think about it.” The next time I saw S. Laurent, she was in the bathroom brushing her teeth. I told her, “I don’t think I can do that job.” Her answer was, “Make an appointment and talk to Mary Hugh.” So I did. I told S. Hugh, “I want to help you in any way I can.” She said, “Sister, I don’t need any help. I don’t want this job anymore.” She plopped some papers in my lap and said, “Our next meeting is….” I had never done anything like the Mothers Guild before in my whole life.  I learned you don’t have to do everything yourself. But I did do a lot! The guild was also a very rewarding ministry for me. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I was coordinator for 25 years. I still keep up with some of the women.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
More and more, I’m spending my spare time taking naps! Seriously, I go to clown meetings, though I don’t do a lot of clowning. I don’t know why people thought I was a clown! I do more magic than clowning. My dad did magic. I used to be his little assistant. My mom was the guinea pig. The magic is the expression you see on people’s faces. We don’t know how hard a person’s life may be. Magic lets them forget for a few minutes and bring a little joy into their hearts. That’s what’s important.

If you could address all of the people in the world, what would you say?
Keep your sense of humor. Be positive. See the sunny side of life.

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