Sister Sharon Marie Stola, OSB grew up in Berwyn, IL and attended St. Mary of Celle School. Her mother said she spent more time helping the Sisters in school and at the Convent than at home. When she was in 6th grade, she was one of a group of girls who were invited to Sacred Heart Motherhouse in Lisle for the Final Profession of Sister Maria Celle. She returned home and told her parents she was going to become a nun. She later attended Sacred Heart Academy as an aspirant. During these years she learned more about religious life and especially life as a Benedictine. After graduating from Sacred Heart Academy she entered the Benedictine Community on August 15, 1964.
Sister Sharon received a BA degree in Education from St. Mary of the Woods College in 1970, and taught for 12 years in the grade schools at Our Lady of the Mount in Cicero, St. Joan of Arc in Lisle, and St. James in Glen Ellyn. While teaching at St. Joan of Arc, her Pastor, Abbot Valentine, OSB, suggested that she might be interested in pursuing studies in Liturgy in order to lead the Liturgy Commission at the parish. She was very interested, and received her Masters Degree in Theology and Liturgy from the University of Notre Dame in 1980. The timing of her degree was good, as parishes were beginning to implement the new post Vatican II Liturgy, and she was hired as the full time liturgist at St. Pius X Parish in Lombard. After a long ministry at St. Pius, Sister Sharon also served as liturgist at St. Joseph Parish in Bradley and St. James Parish in Glen Ellyn. During the 1990’s she began work on a Doctor of Ministry in Liturgy at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, receiving her degree in 1999. During this time Sister Sharon also became a Certified Liturgical Consultant and is presently working with St. Frances de Sales Parish in Lansing, KS on the building of their new church.
In 1991, Sister Sharon was hired as Director of the Office of Divine Worship and the Catechumenate for the Diocese of Joliet. She continues in this position three days per week, and serves as the Liturgist at St. Jude Parish in New Lenox the rest of the week. In her Diocesan position, she is responsible for planning all Diocesan ceremonies; implementing all liturgical changes from the Vatican and the Bishops; training lay ministers through workshops, Liturgical and Catechumenate Certification Programs and one on one training; working with parishes on their Catechumenate programs; consulting with parishes on renovation and building projects; and being available for the many questions concerning the liturgical and Catechumenate life of the parishes. And of course, “other duties as assigned by the Bishop”. She calls her work a kaleidoscope. There is more she would love to do if only there were more hours in each day. For the past five years, she has served on the 24 member Board of Directors of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, representing Region 7 (Illinois and Indiana). In addition to this work, Sister is also a member of the faculty for the graduate summer Music/Liturgy program at St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, IN. Sister Sharon also serves on the Bishop’s Secretariat Board and is responsible for six diocesan agencies, working as liaison between the Bishop and these agencies. She is especially interested in incorporating everyone, every culture, every nationality represented in the Diocese into the Liturgy through full and active participation at every Diocesan celebration.
Sister Sharon appreciates that the Sisters again have their own Monastery space, and experiences, with the Sisters, community in a fresh and renewed way. The renovated Chapel provides a wonderful space for the Sisters to be physically close to one another while at Divine Office and Eucharist, thus enhancing their prayer life. The Sisters can now readily interact with the Villa St. Benedict residents through visits and conversation, giving a spark to everyone’s lives – “It lifts everyone up.”
Sister Sharon is now a member of the Monastic Council. She says that serving on the Council has been an enlightening experience. It has brought her into a new leadership role that she is eager to embrace. Her life as a Benedictine Sister has provided many opportunities to develop her gifts, professionally and musically – she has learned to play the string bass and enjoys playing at Mass. Liturgy is the center of her life, both in community and in ministry. Her hope for the future is that her ministry in community will continue to develop to its fullest, and that her ministry in the Church will continue to reflect her Benedictine charism. “I take great pride in letting people know I am a Benedictine Sister from Sacred Heart Monastery in Lisle.”