Sister Linda Maune of the School Sisters of Notre Dame has been teaching and serving at Holy Family School in Freeburg for over half of her 60 years in religious life.
“It has been a blessing to witness three generations grow in their faith and become loving parents and people dedicated to service to their community,” she said.
This year is Sr. Linda’s diamond jubilee as an SSND.
“Jubilee is a time of grace and hope, a time to give thanks and praise, and a time to recall many memories,” she said.
“Truly, I have a grateful heart for all that has been and all that will be.”
“Give and forgive”
Sr. Linda grew up in Washington, Missouri, where SSNDs taught at St. Francis Borgia School.
She often dreamed of being a teacher.
She had two great-aunts who were School Sisters of Notre Dame. Her parents would take her to visit them in St. Louis, and the sisters would ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up.
“I really feel the seed of my religious vocation was planted in those early years,” she said.
She entered the SSND novitiate after graduating from St. Francis Borgia High School.
She received the religious name Sister Laureen Marie but later returned to her baptismal name.
She professed temporary vows in the congregation on July 29, 1960, in St. Louis.
Since then, she has spent 58 years as a classroom teacher in mostly rural Catholic grade schools in Missouri and Illinois — including three years at St. Joseph School in Westphalia and the past 36 years at Holy Family School in Freeburg.
She has taught all grades from kindergarten through 8 but discovered her highest potential among first- and second-graders.
She has relished helping young children and their families prepare for First Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“I have learned to know most of the people of the parish quite well,” she said. “I have attended many Baptisms, First Holy Communions, weddings and funerals.
“I have witnessed both the joys and sorrows of this parish family many times and know how the people truly have strong faith and loving support for each other,” she said.
She hopes the seeds of faith she helped plant in her students will continue to grow.
“I have daily tried to help them pray, learn the truths of our faith, be more willing to give and forgive as they get to experience more of God’s love for them,” she said.
The children have also taught her — “much as I saw how they were able to find joy in simple things, openness to new ideas, creativity and an appreciation of nature.”
“What a joy it has been to hear children say they like to read Bible stories or to be able to pray even when they are outside!” she said.
Learning from each other
Sr. Linda holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the former Notre Dame College in St. Louis and a master’s degree in reading education from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.
She observed that many new methods and techniques have evolved during her years in education.
“Technology has provided extensive new opportunities for learning,” she noted. “Many of us were forced to use them when schools closed because of COVID-19, and we used distance learning.”
Yet, her most memorable classroom events are times when children did activities as a team, shared ideas for a project or acted out ways to put virtue into their daily lives.
“I have seen children learn so much from each other as they listened and worked cooperatively,” she said. “These, indeed, are life skills which they will need in the years ahead.”
She noted that religious life has changed profoundly since she entered.
“Yet, even though habits and rules are different, the SSND spirit is alive, and the charism of our foundress, Blessed Mother Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger, is very evident in the ministers of all School Sisters of Notre Dame.
“We continue to choose to serve the poor, women and unmet needs of the Church and the world,” she said. “We strive to present a world vision and teach global issues wherever we are sent.”
In the present
Sr. Linda continues to teach at Holy Family while living in the SSND community at neighboring Sacred Heart parish in Rich Fountain.
She loves the adage, “The past is history, the future is a mystery. Now is a gift — which is why we call it the present.”
As a cancer survivor, she has learned to treasure the gift of each new day.
“I also have come to realize that God has been with me all along the way and will continue to be there until I reach the end of my earthly journey,” she said.
She continues to be amazed at God’s faithfulness to her throughout her pilgrimage of vowed religious life.
“During this jubilee year, I realized ever more how I have been and am embraced by God’s love,” she said.
Jubilee year has challenged her to deepen her relationship with God by renewing her vowed commitment to consecrated celibacy, Gospel poverty, and apostolic obedience.
“I have come to realize that as my relationship with Christ deepens, I am freed to serve God’s people and to follow Him more fully as I try to continue to carry forward the mission,” she said.
She intends to keep living out the motto of the SSND foundress: “Trust and Dare!”
God has blessed Sr. Linda profoundly and in many ways since she answered her religious calling.
She asks people to join her in praying for more vocations to the Priesthood and religious life.
“I ask God to bless everyone who has been a part of the fabric of my life,” she said. “Indeed, I can pray with Mary my own prayer of thanks and praise, for the Lord has been so good to me.”
Sr. Linda’s mailing address is: Sacred Heart Convent, 4291 Highway U, Freeburg, MO 65035-2356