Sister Larina Williams
Born in Chicago, Larina Williams was raised in a family of 13 children by parents of extraordinary faith. “My Dad’s father was a Baptist minister and my mother converted to Catholicism in her early 20s,” she said. “She had her heart set on bringing her husband and all 13 children into the Catholic Church.”
Larina attended public school until fifth grade. “When my mother enrolled me in sixth grade at Holy Angels School in Chicago, I was inspired by the sisters right from the start. I wanted to enter the School Sisters of St. Francis after eighth grade, but the community encouraged me to wait until I was older.” She then attended St. Angela Boarding School in Carroll, Iowa. After Larina graduated from high school, the principal of Holy Angels “wasted no time getting me ready to enter the postulancy for the School Sisters of St. Francis.”
During her 45 years in education, Sister Larina taught all levels at St. Martin’s, St. Clare, St. Killian’s, and Holy Angels schools in Chicago. During the last ten years of her tenure at Holy Angels, she served as assistant principal of the school.
“The most rewarding years of my ministry were at Holy Angels,” she said. “We enjoyed a genuine family atmosphere in the school where everyone felt accepted and cared for. The 800+ children and their parents were very cooperative and showed a lot of respect and support for all the teachers.
“My 61 years in religious life have been filled with graces all around. Many former students of mine have done well with their lives. The sisters I live with exude an inner joy that lights up my day.
“Community life requires a shared life rooted in deep spirituality,” Sister Larina shared. “Anyone considering a vocation today will find religious life most rewarding if they enter for the right reasons and if they are capable of making a commitment that will sustain them through a lifetime. God is always close, inviting us to keep ourselves open to His continual help in new and surprising ways."
Interview by Sister Ruth Hoerig