Sincerely caring about others sometimes requires stepping out of our comfort zone. It means out-of-the-box thinking and risk-taking, the very virtues that have built great Franciscan ministries worldwide.
“Every story you hear about the beginnings of our community is about people going out on a limb and not knowing how it’s going to end,” said Sister Norberta Hunnewinkel, OSF, Program Manager of the Franciscan Adult Day Center. “The Sisters became successful because we set out what we intended to do. Taking risks were not uncommon at the time.”
Sister Norberta has always been a natural risk-taker. She needed to be adaptable and fearless growing up because her father set up plants for Chrysler Corporation, requiring her family to uproot and relocate every few years. After spending the first seven years of her life in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where her mom worked as a registered nurse in a hospital, her family was always on the move.
She spent most of her time in public schools, but Sister Norberta said she kept losing credit for high school courses, so she convinced her parents to be a boarder at a convent school while she was a junior, so that she could finish up high school.
An Encounter with the Sisters
Sister Norberta received more than she asked for. She was able to graduate a year ahead of schedule. More importantly, she had an opportunity to experience the Sisters of St. Francis firsthand.
“The single most important thing was that the sisters were joyful and happy people and that ‘s what drew me to them,” Sister Norberta recalls.
She considered becoming a sister because she “wanted to make a difference in the world and thought being a Franciscan might help me do that.”
Her family did not take that well, even though both of her parents were Catholic. “I did not tell my mother that I graduated early and she was looking forward to me walking down the aisle with cap and gown.”