Lydia Nikolaisen, SNJM

In August 1962, I entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary at Marylhurst, Oregon from the newly founded Washington Province. After Novitiate training, college classes, vow classes and formation in Holy Names Spirituality, we moved to Spokane for further formation and study at Fort Wright College. Since studying and being a student did not come easily to me, I consider my best achievement in those years was becoming grounded in our SNJM community, bonding with my sisters and making vows to carry on our community charism of education in the faith: full development of the human person. Our formation is life long—together we grow and change with great prayer times, rituals and regular meetings for business and celebration!

The Sisters I lived and taught with, especially in the beginning, were my most effective mentors. I watched, learned and caught the excitement and commitment that teaching requires. Workshops and classes that related to my actual teaching were great! During my forty years in education, I taught first grade at St. Frances Cabrini in Tacoma, St. Anne’s, St. Joseph’s and St. Paul’s Seattle Holy Family in White Center, teaching second grade, was my longest place of ministry.

These are parish schools. With marvelous professional friends, many of whom became personal friends, we worked together for the best possible learning experiences for our children and had great fun together along the way! The families were committed to the best education for their children—passing on our Catholic/Christian tradition in the context of parish life. The school and parish families played a significant role in how I continued to learn and grow in confidence knowing that as part of this SNJM community I could have influence for good!

Of course my Nikolaisen family has always been there for me. I am number eleven of twelve children. We continue to gather, many times of late for funerals, but always to touch base and celebrate! Next generation is great too!

Family, partners in education, friends, students, parish communities and my Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. How truly blessed I am. Thank God!