Sister Kathy Braun

Sister Kathy BraunGrowing up in Aurora, Illinois, Sister Kathy Braun loved attending daily Mass and was inspired by the sisters who taught her in grade school and high school. But her call to religious life came quite unexpectedly the day she accompanied a friend who was traveling to St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee to be measured for her Postulant uniform. “The sister who was measuring my friend asked me, ‘Are you here to be measured too?’ I said, ‘Yes, measure me, too!’”

With a mother and sister in nursing, Sister Kathy always felt drawn to the medical profession. She earned a medical technology degree from Alverno College and practiced in that field for 28 years. A job at a health clinic in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, was her first experience ministering in another culture. “I was deeply touched by the gentle, peaceful spirit of the African-American people. Through them, I learned how to look at life from an entirely new perspective.” Later, eight months ministering in Guatemala “helped me to see life in a very different light. I was utterly amazed at the strong faith life, the sense of community, and the joy conveyed by these people who had so little of life’s material resources.”

She spent time in El Paso, Texas, working at La Posada Home, a transitional shelter for women and children, and later earned a master’s degree in pastoral care. After tending to her ailing mother while working at a Chicago hospice, Sister Kathy returned to El Paso a decade ago, joining four other sisters who established Casa Alexia. At this mission on the El Paso-Juárez border, the sisters stand in solidarity with immigrants and migrants. “I have helped to facilitate an educational program for mind-body healing, and I minister as a chaplain with the frail, low-income elderly.”

“Religious life is full of surprises,” she said of her decades of consecrated life. “You have the freedom to accompany people wherever they are. Presented with myriad opportunities for new experiences, your life moves from one adventure to another without any sense of design until, like a piece of fabric when you turn it over, you see a beautifully stitched canvas.”

Interview by Sister Ruth Hoerig