Meet Sister Jodelle Zimmerman

Sister Jodie grew up on a farm near Westphalia, Iowa.

“Among my uncles and aunts were priests and nuns, so my vocation is sort of genetic, I think,” she said. “I attended Catholic schools where the Franciscans and Benedictines taught. I went on to attend Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan.”

After graduation, Sister Jodie went on to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she met some Benedictines from Yankton.

“I spent time with them and felt at home with them,” she said. “Their hospitality gave me the space and time to discern my call to join their community.”

Sister Jodie entered Sacred Heart Monastery in 1982 and made her first profession in 1984.

“The following year I went out on mission to teach at (Sioux Falls) O’Gorman High School,” she said. “Since then I have been sent to other places to minister in more ways: doing pastoral care in a hospital and nursing home and now parish work at St. Mary Church in Rock Valley.”

Sister Jodie entered the Benedictines with the desire to seek God.

“Because community meant — and means — so much to me, I wanted too to form deep friendships with the sisters,” she said. “I believe God called me to the Benedictines because of that community aspect.”

Over time and through the journey of life, Sister Jodie realized what these commitments entail. “Their fulfillment takes time; it’s not like driving through McDonald’s,” she quipped. “It is more like the daily meals we put on the table for each other. Some meals are banquets and some are flops, but mostly they’re just meat and potatoes,” Sister Jodie added. “Yet we keep coming because we need to be fed.”

Sister Jodie finds a rhythm and balance in parish work, “A pattern recurs week to week, even year to year: Sunday to Sunday, the school year passes, the liturgical year follows the life of our Lord with the special seasons and ordinary time,” she said. “Our lives meld into it. We become a part of each other’s lives.”

Despite her “ignorance” of Spanish, Sister Jodie has enjoyed getting to know the Hispanic people in the parish cluster. “How fascinating to witness the festival of our Lady of Guadalupe with the roses, mariachis, dances and food,” she said. “Or to go on the posada leading up to Christmas. I admire those who gather on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays to pray at church. And with some of the people I am able to form friendships.”

Because Yankton is only 80 miles from Rock Valley, Sister Jodie is able to drive home to the monastery occasionally — for funerals and meetings and holidays.

“Those are precious times to be with my sisters, especially since I live alone,” she acknowledged.

Adapted with permission from a feature printed in The Catholic Globe, Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa,



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