June 1, 2021 | Your Stories

Celebrating 70 years, Carmelite sister’s vocation story illustrates ‘Fiat: Thy will be done’


Editor’s note: On July 2, 2021, Sr. M. Andrea Niehaus, DCJ, celebrates her 70th jubilee of religious profession as a Carmelite Sister of the Divine Heart of Jesus.

On April 24, 1938 after receiving my First Holy Communion, I was struck by these words inscribed over a door: “Not my will, but Thine be done.” For as long as I can remember, I wanted to become a religious sister. That day I knew that Jesus, Who was now in my heart, was confirming that my desire to become a religious sister was also His will for me. That inspiration would remain the “golden thread” that would forever run through my future life.

Sr. M. Andrea Niehaus, DCJ, celebrates her 70th jubilee in July 2021. COURTESY OF THE CARMEL HOME

My educators were the Sisters of St. Francis of Oldenburg, Indiana, and the Notre Dame Sisters de Namur of Cincinnati, Ohio. Our devout parents never suggested a religious vocation, but we were always surrounded by the example of holy priests and dedicated religious whom we learned from our parents to love and respect.

In 1946, my sister, two years my senior, began to confide in me her religious calling. Our wish “not to teach” ruled out the above congregations. Our immediate search was for a Carmelite community, both because of our love for our Blessed Mother, and the fact that a lifelong devotion to St. Therese of the Child Jesus was nurtured by our mother. Life as Discalced Carmelites was obviously not God’s will for us, but it had to be an order dedicated to our Blessed Mother. An ad in the Sacred Heart Magazine read: “Is God calling you… to become a Carmelite Sister?” That did it! Shortly after, my sister entered the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus taking the name Sr. M. Bernadette of Our Lady of Lourdes; and I, at age 16 and brokenhearted, waved her goodbye. I was comforted by my father’s words: “When you’re her age, you can enter too, if you still want to.”

Sr. M. Bernadette Niehaus, DCJ, on her 70th Jubilee in 2018. COURTESY OF THE CARMEL HOME

Suddenly the “golden thread” took a sharp turn. I now credit my dear father for being a faithful listener to God’s inspiration. Before long, he introduced me to a fine Catholic young man who eventually became a replacement for my sister who had truly and forever found her half of our shared desire! The newly-discovered, but very blessed and happy relationship was to eventually throw me into the depths of doubt and indecision! There was a split in that “golden thread.” I was working at Adam Wuest, Inc. as a secretary at that time. Each day I used part of my noon break to make a quick visit to our Blessed Mother in a nearby church, asking her to reunite that “golden thread” so that I may truly know which was God’s Holy Will for me! Our Blessed Mother rescued me as only she could do!

In 1949 I entered the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin and took the name Sr. M. Andrea of the Holy Cross. After taking my first profession of vows in 1951 I worked with the children and elderly, serving in the congregation in various other capacities in Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, Florida, and Kentucky. In July of this year, God-willing, I will have the great joy of celebrating my 70th jubilee of religious profession at the Carmel Home in Owensboro, Ky.; my motto being: “He loved me and saved me for Himself.” Fiat!

Sr. M. Andrea Niehaus, DCJ, serves at the Carmel Home in Owensboro.

Current Issue

Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
Editor |  Elizabeth Wong Barnstead
Contributors |  Riley Greif, Rachel Hall
Layout |  Rachel Hall
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