Meet Sister Carmella Luke
Choosing Sacred Heart Monastery as home for Sister Carmella Luke was initially influenced as a freshman Education major at Mount Marty College. S. Carmella shares, “When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a number of things, but I always knew I wanted to be a teacher in some way.” This is when she was first exposed and got to know various Sisters on campus. Sister Carmella shared she attended a retreat with them her first year. What really drew her to SHM was the community she felt when she was around them. S. Carmella knew it was the right choice for her not long into her college years.
She states “it just felt right; I really felt like the best possible version of myself was clear and identifiable when I was with these Sisters.” S. Carmella entered in August of 1999.
Carmella reflects that at that time she struggled with the concept of teaching: “The Sisters have helped me develop my gifts, whether it be teaching or using my musical gifts of singing or playing the musical instrument oboe.” S. Carmella also had a special relationship with a young Sister who did missionary work in Bolivia; her enthusiasm and vigor gave S. Carmella stamina and strength as she faced temptations and challenges herself as a young Sister. Now teaching in Sioux Falls, S. Carmella shares,
“I always remember in Sioux Falls that the community is still with me, and I reflect and try to acknowledge that each Sister struggles through different things in life and that we face them together. This fact really helps me enjoy coming home. I have a family here. This is what keeps me committed.”
Her favorite part of The Rule of Benedict is centered on Chapter 71, Mutual Obedience, “Being able to have relationships with older Sisters is a privilege I’m really grateful for. I like how The Rule sets up our council so that the older Sisters listen to the input of the younger ones. I also know that there is a time when I will be on the other side of things too,” says S. Carmella with a smile. “A couple challenging parts of The Rule is a line that says, do not murmur- an example of this is that I struggled with complaining about certain aspects of life. One thing most people know about me is I really enjoy laughing.” A challenge for S. Carmella is understanding The Rule for its notation on laughter, RB 7:59 “The tenth step of humility is that he is not given to ready laughter, for it is written: only a fool raises his voice in laughter (Sir 21:23).
“My take on this is if it brings joy and builds others up that is the type of laughter that St. Benedict would want me to seek. I never try to take myself too seriously and that is where I find myself laughing.”
Reflecting on the future of religious life, S. Carmella shares, “Followers of St. Benedict have varied in number throughout our history, so I know our future may look different. I think the collaboration between different Benedictine communities is really exciting. Relying on each other’s gifts to a fuller capacity will enrich us in ways we don’t expect in the coming years.”