SISTER STORY: Sister Eleanore Hillenbrand
I was taught by the Benedictine Sisters in grammar school at St. Hilary Parish. When I began as a freshman at St. Scholastica High School, I entered as an aspirant (a program in which young women with the intention of becoming a Sister after high school lived at the monastery while attending school). My older brother’s girlfriend, Audrey Morran, had been an aspirant while she was in high school and it was her example that attracted me to the idea (Audrey remained in the community until she died in the early eighties and my brother was happily married to another woman!). When I suggested it to my parents, they were hesitant but asked my Uncle Fred who was a priest in Wisconsin whether it was a good idea. When I was younger, his assistant used to take us to the movies, and we got in for free, so I was very fond of him! He told them to let me try it, but to make sure I was happy.
After high school, I became a postulant and then received the habit as a novice. At the reception, I received the name of my Godmother, whom we called Aunt Nora, and became Sister Eleanore, which delighted me because she was a wonderful Godmother. I also took vows (both times!) in front of my nephew, since he was Msgr. Fred Hillenbrand, the Apostolic Delegate for Communities of Women Religious in Chicago. When I met with him to ensure that I was taking vows freely, his first question was how my mother was doing! Becoming a Benedictine Sister, then, seemed like a natural outgrowth of my family and parish life.
"Becoming a Benedictine Sister seemed like a natural outgrowth of my family and parish life."