Sister Carolyn Teter — 60 years
PARENTS: William and Mary Bertha Newby Teter
HOMETOWN: Eureka, Kan.
RECEIVED INTO CONGREGATION: March 19, 1954
RELIGIOUS NAME: Sister Jean Vianney
Marymount College, Salina (bachelor’s degree in chemistry); North Dakota State University, Fargo (master’s in addiction counseling); St. Mary’s Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind. (doctorate in theology and scripture)
1962-1970 Marymount College, teaching theology and scripture
1972-1975 Kansas State University, Manhattan, campus ministry
1975-1980 St. John’s Hospital, Salina, addiction and family counseling
1987-1997 Manna House of Prayer, Concordia; spiritual director and leader for workshops on spirituality and addictions
1997-2000 Francis House (for adults and children with HIV), Tampa, Fla.
2000-2002 Silver City, N.M., started spirituality center
2008-2013 Manna House, leading workshops and providing spiritual direction
2013-present Counseling, spiritual direction; living at the Nazareth Motherhouse
The event that captures what religious life means to me is Vatican Council II (1962-65).
I began to see that Church teachings and doctrines were not written in stone, that they could evolve so as to be relevant for the 20th century.
This also held true for religious life. The understanding of its place in the Church and in the world took on a deeper, challenging, more authentic meaning. I began to see that religious life is also evolving and can attest to this fact from living as a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia for 60 years.
When seeing 60 years through the lens of an evolutionary universe, it became evident to me that even though we as a community are aging and fewer in number, something new is being born because of the love energy that has been generated by every Sister of St. Joseph who lived and is still living the spirit and spirituality as s Sister of St. Joseph. In a universe that is evolving and is participatory, every death is the beginning of new life, and we are seeing that new life emerging in those women who are coming to the community as Agrégées.
It was Teilhard de Chardin who gave me this evolutionary view. Being a Jesuit, he believed that God was to be found or encountered in all things. Teilhard was also a geologist and paleontologist. His scientific knowledge convinced him that the whole universe is in evolution and that it is weaving something new on our planet; that it is evolving towards a greater unity in love with the Cosmic Christ at the heart and center of the evolutionary process.
Vatican II, the spirit and spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph and the spirituality of Teilhard de Chardin have deepened in me the understanding of my life as a woman religious
in the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia: to be a unifier, a co-creator with the Cosmic Christ to bring about a community of justice, peace, mercy and compassion.