Meet Sister Joyce Streff
S. Joyce Streff was born to the late Henry and Joyce Streff of Salem, SD. The youngest of four children, she was raised on the family farm. She attended St. Mary’s Catholic School for all 12 years. The experience of growing up in this faith community and background fostered her initial response to seek out a vocation with a religious community of Sisters. This process was fostered more with her contact with Sister Amica and the Benedictines of Sacred Heart Monastery in her high school years.
S. Joyce shares, “S. Amica was always very affirmative of me and supportive of me; she’s the one that brought me to Sacred Heart Monastery. Her vocation story started to be outlined and colored when S. Amica said, “now, I’m going this weekend to the monastery, do you want to come along?” Sister Joyce replied, “Well yeah.” S. Joyce liked what she saw, and was glad to be able to spend time with the postulants. S. Madonna at that time was the Postulant Mistress. “I got a taste of what it was like, and then I came back again to initially apply when I was a senior in high school. I pretty much knew this is what I want to do, I want to give this all I got, and try it.”
She entered the monastery in August of 1964, made first monastic profession on June 29, 1966, and made perpetual monastic profession in June 1970. Sister voiced, “I went into my profession and moved from being a nurse to an occupational therapist. I lived with Sisters out on mission. The relationships with those Sisters were very deep. It was more than just walking in the door. I established a relationship with all these women and that is what kept me here, in my ministries, and as a Benedictine.” What has kept S. Joyce dedicated to her desire to live life as a Sister is seen through several facets of faith. “The continued drawing card for me was always liturgy of the hours, the Mass; liturgy and singing meant a lot to me.”
In addition to the accumulation of those factors, it also coincides with community living. “Through the years my relationship with the Lord and relationship with the Sisters has deepened. It can be described as a kind of “dove-tail” thus not focused on just one aspect. Dove-tailing means to me the relationship that was established with God, my Sisters, and my ministry. It was also through the facets of prayer, Mass, liturgy of the hours, singing, which grew and developed over time.” She has served in several hospitals and ministered mainly in health care for the last 40 years. This hospital ministry has been very rewarding and fulfilling for her, and she knows it is of service to all people.
“The part of the Rule I find most challenging, in my life now, is to really live the depth of The Rule. It focuses on humility and good works all which are Christian-based, and more so the daily living of these values with the Sisters and the larger community, to whom I minister to, and work with. It is never just one facet. I always have to remember there is that growth, coming in at seventeen years old and now in my sixties. I’m at a different focus; being more mature there are more differences: in relationship, prayer, God, community, and ministry to the public.
What excites S. Joyce about religious life is that Benedictines will be here regardless of the changes that the Sisters will have to look at in the future. Sister shares “we will need to be open to the challenge of change.” S. Joyce expresses that where the change will lead the sisters she does not know. She sees in the example from the three Sisters that came from Switzerland to Missouri a notable account for their courage in evangelizing to start out in the way they did. The Sisters are still being called to that courage which will take us forward. S. Joyce remarks “This challenge is an exciting way of being open to God’s plan and what he wants to reveal to us. I would not be where I am today without my faith, family, and religious community. I am very grateful for all of the years and people I have met and the places I’ve traveled.”