Sister Suzanne Noffke
As a young girl, Ione Noffke was drawn to religious life and to teaching in a general way, but “having entered so young, I made my ‘real’ decisions about religious life well after my profession of vows,” she reflected. Attending Sacred Heart School in Appleton, WI, Ione was taught by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Nonetheless, “the Racine Dominicans were a ‘natural’ because my aunt (S. Annette Kemps) was a member of this community.”
She entered the aspirancy at the age of 15, and at her reception when she was 18, Ione received the name Sister Suzanne. A few years later she began teaching and earned a bachelor’s degree from Dominican College and a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. She went on to serve as president of the community, as well as become a translator, writer and historian.
“Every phase of my ministry has been exciting and filled with meaning for me, but especially meaningful has been my work with making accessible to others our community history and the life and thought of our patron, Catherine of Siena,” S. Suzanne said. She found the years she served as president brought the blessing of being able to relate in new ways to each member of the community.
Being a Racine Dominican gives her “not only a life in close community with women who share similar ideals and priorities, but the opportunity to minister with a special kind of support and collaboration.”
S. Suzanne wants people to be able to share in the Dominican spirituality and contemplative approach to all of life. “I would like them to know better the principles of truth and justice we espouse, and how community facilitates putting these principles into action.”
Any words of encouragement for someone interested in religious life? “There is nothing quite like the combination of intimacy and freedom to serve that community provides!”