Feature Story

Sister Sarah Cieplinski, who made her final profession as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur in Cincinnati this past December, was born and raised in Arizona with an older brother and younger sister. Her family was involved in their Catholic parish and Sarah was a member of the parish Girl Scout program for many years. “ As I look back on it now, “ Sarah said, “I realize that participating in Girl Scouts and leading several projects with the Girl Scouts helped me appreciate the gift of service to others, especially those in need.”

During her years in public high school, Sarah was interested in science and the environment as well as track and tennis. One day during her junior year Sarah was surfing the Internet and came across information about religious life. “For some reason, that interested me, “ Sarah said. “ I didn’t have any relatives who were Sisters and I didn’t know Sisters in my parish, but this information planted a seed and gave me something to consider as I considered the possibilities for my future.”

Sarah attended a discernment program offered by the Diocese of Phoenix in her senior year of high school. Several religious communities were present during that weekend. It was there that she met Sister Dorothy Deger and subsequently more Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in the Phoenix area.

Sarah ventured from Phoenix to Spokane to attend Gonzaga University and study Special Education. “ I continued to explore the possibility of religious life during college,” Sarah said. “ I met with several religious communities both in Spokane and Phoenix, but I kept being drawn to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. I was drawn to the mission, to Saint Julie and to the Sisters. It just felt like home when I was with them.”

Returning to Phoenix after graduating from college, Sarah taught in middle school as a public school teacher while continuing to discern the possibility of religious life. She entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 2008.

Sarah’s family was a bit surprised at her choice of vocation at first, but they were supportive of her decision. “They wanted me to choose the right path for me,” Sarah said. “They see that I am happy and they are happy with me.” Sarah lived in Cincinnati during her canonical novitiate years and lived with the Sisters in the Saint Columbkille community in Los Angeles during the other years of formation. She received an MS in Education from Mount Saint Mary’s University in LA and now serves as a Special Education Resource Teacher in a private school in the greater Los Angeles area, while living with her Notre Dame community at Saint Columbkille.

“I love working with the students and the faculty in this education ministry,” Sarah said. “It is gratifying to see the growth of students over time. It is a joy for me to be a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. I have the opportunity to share the goodness of God with others in my ministry and at Saint Columbkille Parish. It is meaningful to live in a community with other Sisters. We pray together. We lift one another up during difficult days and share in the joys that go with many other days. I cannot imagine living another kind of life, I truly feel blessed. “