Parish News: Sister Barbara Bogenschutz, O.P.

posted on November 23, 2011
by Shannon Grooms, Our Lady of the Sioux Parish

Sister Barbara has been the director of religious education at Sacred Heart Church, Pine Ridge, SD since last December. Her ministry focuses on sacrament preparation for youth and adults, as well as youth ministry. At any given moment you may also find her pitching in to answer the phone or assist with any of the other various church activities.

According to Sister Barb, “I see me wanting to share the gifts I have and teaching the people here to teach, so there will be someone to carry on when I’m gone. I want to work myself out of a job, because I know there will always be something for me to do in the church. The worst thing I could do is make people dependent on me.”

Sister got an early start in Catholicism. “My parents were very active in the church. My mom volunteered as a parish secretary for 18 years. We were around the church a lot waiting on her. We had the priests over to our home for dinner often.”

Sister Barb attended Catholic grade schools and high schools. Her great aunt was a Benedictine sister and she had some cousins who were Ursuline sisters. By her junior year, she realized her call to become a sister. Upon graduating from high school, she entered into religious life in the Dominican order at Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield, IL.

Her first phase as a postulant, or as it is now called, candidacy was spent in classes taught by her community members for credit at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, IL. In addition, Sister did community outreach and taught religious education one-on-one to a boy with special needs. From there, she entered the canonical phase of her formation which entails taking classes for religious life, in particular for her specific religious order. This period lasts a year. She was a novice for one more year, and, upon completion of this stage, Sister made her profession of temporary vows. She then completed one more year of studies at the motherhouse.

The next stage of Sister’s journey took her to a series of teaching jobs that spanned seventeen years. At that time, Sisters usually spent around three years at a time at a school at which time one sister would be moved resulting in others also being moved. During this time she was also taking classes to get her Bachelor’s Degree in Education from St. Ambrose College, Davenport, IA during the summers.

From there, Sister spent a two year assignment at her motherhouse where she was manager/coordinator of one of the main buildings, where the sisters resided. The motherhouse was under renovation, and the sisters were moved to this residence during this time.

Sister was first introduced to American Indian reservations in the United States, when she ministered for five years at Fort Belknap, MT. She volunteered at the Catholic school and public school, working as a substitute teacher in both, teaching religious education, and serving in pastoral work. For two years she lived with the other sisters, and for three years she lived alone. According to Sister, “I loved it there. It was a strong community. People knew everyone, even if they lived 45 minutes away.”

Once Sister Barb left there, she went to Chicago, IL where she studied at the Catholic Theological Union and earned her Pastoral Ministry Certificate. She used this certificate during the next five years as she served at St. Francis Parish on the Red Cliff Indian Reservation, WI, where she served in both parish ministry and parish administration. This brings her to her current assignment at Sacred Heart Church, Pine Ridge, SD.

In her spare time, Sister Barb enjoys being outdoors, swimming, and needle work.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation churches, contact Fr. Steve Sanford at 605/867-5491 ext. 604.

Shannon Grooms is a member of Our Lady of the Sioux Church. She taught Religion at Red Cloud Elementary School for four years until the birth of their oldest daughter. Shannon, her husband, and her two daughters live on a ranch nine miles north of Oglala, South Dakota.