BENEDICTINE SISTERS
OF THE SACRED HEART

1910 Maple Ave
Lisle, Il 60532

BYZANTINE BENEDICTINE
SISTERS
169 Kenmore Ave N.E. # 301
Warren, OH 44483

 

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Karen Nykiel, OSB

Sister Karen grew up in Berwyn, a suburb of Chicago. She is one of four children, three girls and one boy. Her father, John, worked in the U.S. Naval Ordinance Plant and her mother, Dorothy, was a bookkeeper. As a child, Sister Karen attended St. Mary of Celle elementary school where she was taught by the Benedictine Sisters. She was awarded a scholarship to attend Sacred Heart Academy. Upon graduation from high school, Sister Karen decided to apply to the FBI, but learned that women were not hired as agents.

Instead, in 1963, she chose to join the Benedictines because saw that this life would provide great support and encouragement. During her years at the Academy, she had experienced that young girls were allowed to grow into womanhood and develop leadership skills. She welcomed life in community because it offered a diverse environment with respectful, diverse opinion.

Sister Karen studied at the College of St. Benedict and was the only woman in her class to graduate with a major in chemistry and a minor in physics. She went on to get a Masters in Chemistry from Seattle University and had a teaching assistantship at Northern Illinois University in the Graduate Studies in Chemistry program.

During these years, Sister Karen was teaching as an Adjunct Professor in Chemistry at College of DuPage, a role she continues today. In 1982, she was approached to develop a Campus Ministry at Illinois Benedictine University (now Benedictine University) and she enjoyed that position for ten years. She had experience in this area after having served in the Adult Education area at St. Joan of Arc. In 1989, Sister Karen earned a MA in Religious Studies from Loyola University/Mundelein College with a major in Comparative Ethics.

In 1992, Sister Karen was asked to take on the role of Administrator for Queen of Peace Retirement Center (now Benedale Center). She held this position until 1997 and balanced these duties with continued teaching assignments at College of DuPage and Benedictine University. Since 1998, Sister Karen has also served as part-time Development Director for St. Mary of Providence in Chicago.

In the Lisle community, Sister Karen enjoys her participation in the Rotary Club. She is also President of Pax Christi Illinois. She has experienced fascinating travel to the Republic of the Congo and Australia. At Sacred Heart Monastery, Sister Karen is Chair of the Hospitality Committee.

Sister Karen is ready for the renovation work on Sacred Heart Monastery to be done so the community can come back together in one living area. The Sisters’ Hospitality Committee is looking forward to planning many activities with the new residents at Villa St. Benedict and she looks forward to the time when both the Sisters and Villa reach out to the wider community surrounding Lisle.

Finally, Sister Karen reflects that “There’s hope – for us and for the church. You hear so much negative. Go back to the Gospels and listen to those words. Maintain peace in your hearts”.