I was just a baby when I first met Sister Austin. The story goes that my parents took me for a visit to St. Francis Convent where my grandmother worked as the switchboard operator. I was crying and all of the nuns were wanting to hold me. They would try, but I just wouldn’t stop crying.
Then Sister Austin entered the room. I went to her and stopped crying immediately.
A few years later I started flying to Illinois for a few weeks each summer to visit my extended family. I would fly by myself and stay with my grandparents. The thing was that my Grandpa Suter had two jobs. He would get off the first and start the second before my Grandma Suter would be off.
Enter Sister Austin again.
Sister Austin would take care of me for an hour or two while my Grandma finished her workday. She would drive me around in the convent using wheelchairs or a food cart (I was tiny). Candy and ice cream were always part of the deal.
I remember walking on the beautiful grounds that surround the convent to this day. Once we fed butterscotch candy to a squirrel (not sure how that turned out). We would also go to the chapel and pray. I remember her showing me the indoor pool, but I never got to use it. Maybe one day. Hint, hint.
For some reason I was really into holy water. Grandma Suter would have some in a little cup thing on her wall outside her bedroom (and thanks to her Uncle Joe, a priest, she had a huge jug of it in her bottom dresser drawer). They had lots of holy water at the convent too. I could never pass it up.
Many fun times were had with Sister Austin. In her later years, she would tell anyone who would listen (and even if they didn’t want to listen) about our story. “Oh my Adam…” she would say. I got to visit her one last time the year she passed. I think the nurses taking care of her were blown away to see the rock star they had been hearing about every hour of every day (my apologies if any of you end up reading this).
I hope one day to learn more about Sister Austin’s life. My spiritual journey definitely began in the halls of St. Francis Convent being spoiled and loved on. I am grateful for how God used Sister Austin and my Grandma and Grandpa Suter to point me towards Jesus.