Sr. Jean Lalande and Sr. Chanelle Schuler celebrated their 50th Jubilee as Benedictine sisters on Saturday, July 8, 2006, at monastery chapel. Before nearly two hundred gathered family and friends, the women renewed their monastic promises of stability, obedience and fidelity to the monastic way of life.
“I am grateful for this supportive community,” Sr. Jean said. “The example of the sisters helps me live my life faithfully.”
Sr. Jean began her years as a Benedictine sister teaching in the many schools the community staffed. She loved the physical sciences and taught PE, biology and science at schools around the state, including St. Gertrude’s Academy and Bishop Kelly High School in Boise. In 1977, Sr. Jean was asked to minister at the monastery as the formation director. By 1989 she had received her Masters Degree in Spirituality at Gonzaga University, worked in parish ministry and earned her certification to practice massage therapy.
In 1989 Sr. Jean and her friend, Carolyn Johnson, started the Body Therapy Clinic, a massage therapy business in Lewiston. "I loved running my own business. My science and physical education background, plus my own contemplative and monastic nature, provided a perfect fit for the business of healing with touch and massage. Massage is a very spiritual occupation.”
Sr. Jean was elected Prioress in 1999. During her six year term she led the community through a visioning process that set the stage for building Spirit Center, 21,800 square foot retreat and conference center.
“I am glad I’m part of this community,” she said. “I am also glad that I have been able to contribute to its growth, as well.”
Sr. Chanelle loves the monastic life, too. "These 50 years have been a blessing,” she said. “God was able to touch so many lives through me, and for that I am deeply grateful.”
Sr. Chanelle grew up knowing that she wanted to be a nurse. After making profession in 1956, she began a nursing career that spanned 22 years. She ministered at St. Benedicts Medical Center in Jerome and at St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood.
In 1985, Sr. Chanelle changed careers and became a hospital Chaplain, first at St. Benedicts in Jerome, and then at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, WA. She worked there for over 14 years, finding the ministry interesting and fulfilling.
"It was a privilege to share times of need, pain and sorrow with patients and their families," recalled Sr. Chanelle. "To ease patients' fears by singing and praying with them, or to accompany them in their final moments of life, these were sacraments, sacred times. These were moments when God was made present to others through me."
In 2004 Sr. Chanelle officially retired from Sacred Heart and returned home to St. Gertrude's to oversee the Infirmary and general health care for the sisters.
"I can't imagine myself anywhere else. There is nothing out there that could draw me away from this life,” Sr. Chanelle said with a smile.