By Dan Russo
CEDAR FALLS — Sister Lynn Luecke, a Cedar Falls native, has recently taken a big leap toward living out her vocation as a religious sister. Before leaving for Peru to begin three years of formation as a novice, the postulant in the Pro Ecclesia Sancta (PES) religious order visited her home parish to share her spiritual journey.
“To be called to be a religious is a true gift from the Lord,” said Sister Lynn, while addressing the congregation at St. Patrick Parish during Masses June 11-12. “It might seem like entering the convent requires a person to give up everything — your friends, your fun, your career, a family and everything that makes a person happy. But when I first met the sisters of Pro Ecclesia Sancta, I saw that their joy was something that could only come from loving the Lord. Two things were very clear to me: that they gave everything to the Lord and that they had something that I wanted too!
“After living with them for almost a year now, I have realized that that something is having God as the center of their life — having him as their one and only true love and placing all there security in him alone,” she added. “It is a life of abundant joy!”
What makes Sister Lynn’s story even more unique is that she isn’t the first one in her family to enter religious life. Sister Leann Luecke, Sister Lynn’s biological elder sister broke ground in 2015 by becoming the first American to join Pro Ecclesia Sancta (PES) and by being the first of her nationality to move to Peru for three years of formation as a novice. Sister Leann has been there a year and is doing well.
“As their mother, I can tell you that Lynn is not ‘following in her sister’s footsteps,’ as many have suggested, but she is following God’s call,” said her mom, referring to Scripture. “‘ You did not choose me, but I chose you.’” (John 15:16)
Sisters Lynn and Leann are both graduates of St. Patrick Elementary School in Cedar Falls and Columbus Catholic High School in Waterloo, places that laid a foundation of faith.
“Going back to high school, (Lynn) has always been open to whatever God’s plan was for her,” said he mother.
Sister Lynn went to college at St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, Minnesota, studying to be a dietician and also minoring in Catholic studies. Her older sister is a graduate of the nearby Univeristy of St. Thomas. Both women encountered sisters from PES through campus ministry at St. Thomas.
The religious order was founded in 1992 and has spread to parts of Peru, Spain and the United States, focusing on the charism of living and promoting holiness. Sister Lynn began to feel her call more intensely during her senior year of college. She entered the one-year postulancy in the United States after graduation.
Sister Lynn left June 19 for Peru, where she will be in formation for another three years, before taking temporary vows. Five years later, she will take final vows. The young woman urged those in her parish to never fear what God may be asking of them.
“As I look out, I see many young people and there is so much potential — the Lord has so many big plans and he wants to use us as instruments of his love,” said Sister Lynn. “Don’t be afraid to say ‘yes’ to a religious vocation. And those who aren’t called to be a priest or religious, please keep praying for us and for more vocations.”
Suzy Luecke has felt a mix of emotions witnessing her two children pursue their vocations.
“I’m proud of them for saying ‘yes’ to God’s call,” said the mom. “It’s not an easy call.”
She also recognizes that keeping in touch long distance is a big change that comes with sacrifices. She has spoken with Sister Lynn since her arrival in Peru via Facetime, and so far everything is going well. After the novice period, both Sisters Lynn and Leann will begin in ministry, and may even be assigned to work in the United States, but that is not determined yet. For now, the sisters are focused on growing in their vocations.
“I’m always struck by God’s love for us, particularly manifested in creation,” said Sister Lynn during her remarks at the church. “When we see life through God’s eyes — we see how much he loves us — we can only respond back with all of our hearts. We are each called to be a saint … each one of us is called to live a life of greatness for him! That’s essentially holiness — encountering God’s infinite love for us and responding with everything we have.”
Father Dennis Colter, pastor of St. Patrick Parish gave Sister Lynn Luecke (second from left), Sister Julieta, and Sister Lynn’s parents, Suzy and Brian, a blessing during the young woman’s visit to her home parish June 11-12. (Contributed photo)