“Growth — be it mental, physical or spiritual — is definitely not restricted by age!”
Sister Georgene Faust, SDS began her lifelong ministry in education in 1945. It was a two-year teaching assignment at St. Paul School in small-town Bloomer, Wis. In 2018, she celebrates 75 years of religious profession.
Over her life of service as a Salvatorian, Sister Georgene says her education ministry has gone full circle. After teaching in grade school classrooms, she moved into administration as a school principal. Later, she devoted years to teaching adults with special learning needs. The native of Elkhart Lake, Wis. credits a lifetime of “walking everywhere” for the youthful energy that keeps her sharing her love for learning to this day.
For many years, Sister Georgene has made her body/spirit balance a priority to stay healthy. “One place I find this balance in on my daily walk; the other is in the swimming pool.” She makes time early in the morning for her daily blessing of Vitamin D and exercise before her tutoring sessions for adults with learning disabilities. Sister Georgene says her 30-minute swim is her time to be present to body and spirit, a gifted time to be in touch with the Lord. “It’s a time to pray for my SDS family and members of my birth family. Often, I pray simply, ‘Lord be present to whomever is in need of you now, today.’”
Being active in a different way many years ago has deepened Sister Georgene’s faith and strengthened her commitment to justice. It was the March on Washington in 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech. Sister Georgene says being part of an endless crowd of people from all walks of life calling for an end to racism is a lasting memory. She says, “I became more involved in sustainable social and economic change. For many years since, I have been an active member of the Valley Interfaith Project. Our strategy is to develop grassroots leaders to work toward a more just society. “
Sister Georgene also ministered at Milwaukee’s Salvatorian parish schools Mother of Good Counsel and St. Pius X. Following two years teaching at Holy Ghost School in Dickeyville, Wis., she served most of the next 30 years as a principal at Catholic grade schools in the state of Maryland. Her own education included a bachelor’s degree in guidance and counseling and a master’s in administration from Milwaukee’s Marquette University.
Most recently, Sister Georgene worked as an instructor at Rio Salado Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. Her lessons prepared adults with special needs for GED testing and job training. She uses the word miraculous to describe how education can change attitudes and build self-esteem. One of her favorite sayings: “Growth — be it mental, physical or spiritual — is definitely not restricted by age!” Sister Georgene would know. Even though she stopped counting after her 90th birthday, she hasn’t stopped growing or going!
Sister Georgene’s newest venture is taking part in the Women’s Health Initiative Strong & Healthy (WHISH) trial, run by Stanford Prevention Research Center in Palo Alto, Calif. The study tracks the effects of physical activity on maintaining strength, balance and flexibility in aging women. Sister Georgene doesn’t need WHISH as motivation to stay active, but the study’s findings are of great interest to this curious lifelong learner.
Sister Georgene has lived and ministered in Phoenix since 1988. She moved there after her last Maryland assignment at Holy Family School in Randallstown. She officially retired in 1994, after six years as principal at St. Matthew’s School in Phoenix. Still, she was not ready to retire from her beloved teaching ministry.
After a number of interim ministries, Sister Georgene began full-time work in adult education. She spearheaded the English as a Second Language (ESL) literacy foundations class at Rio Salado College. She also set up a model outreach program at St. Francis Xavier Parish for non-English speaking adults. Giving people the tools to be successful through education has been an incredibly rewarding experience for Sister Georgene. And, it still is.