No matter what each new day brings, Sister Darlene Pienschke, SDS (Sr. Aaron), stays mindful of the mission. It helps her to focus her care for the spiritual needs of residents at St. Anne’s Salvatorian Campus in Milwaukee.
“Our mission is to make known the goodness and kindness of the Savior. At St. Anne’s, I try to foster the compassion of God’s love among residents in the skilled care and assisted living areas. And, it extends to their families, and our staff and volunteers who share awareness of our mission,” says Sr. Darlene.
For many years, Sr. Darlene taught in baccalaureate programs at the University of Wisconsin, Marquette University and Saginaw (Michigan) State University. As a missionary in the Amazon basin, she established health teams, practiced midwifery, and taught and published herbal remedies, while serving villagers who had no access to conventional medical care. She also provided pastoral care to impoverished people in the slums of São Paulo, Brazil and rural areas where Salvatorian Sisters served.
Before joining the St. Anne’s team as Director of Mission and Spiritual Care in 2011, Sr. Darlene spent 20 years in Tucson, most recently as a full-time hospice nurse. She taught there too, and served in a parish while sharing the tribal way of life among people on an Apache reservation. She also ministered at St. Elizabeth Clinic serving people who lacked adequate medical insurance.
Now resettled in Wisconsin, Sr. Darlene says she’s come full circle, back to her roots where she was born and raised and entered the Sisters of the Divine Savior in 1962. She professed first vows three years later and final vows in 1970.
Sr. Darlene thinks of her work at St. Anne’s as a companioning ministry. “For me, it’s about journeying alongside others and respecting all aspects of their human spirit. At times, I find I need to be still so I can be attentive to emotional and spiritual pain, and respond tenderly to the disorder and confusion brought on by illness or hardship. Other times, companioning engages us in the joy and laughter of life. It’s about honoring the sacredness of the soul’s journey—yours, mine, and those we meet along the way. There are many dimensions to caring for each other’s hearts. For me, companioning is a gift that urges prayerful mindfulness as we all go about our gospel-inspired service to others.”