CSJ SisterStory Project
Interview with Lillian Baumann


Interview with Lillian Baumann



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Sister Lillian Baumann talks with Samantha Gildehaus about genealogy research, serving and caring for other retired sisters, and her love of teaching.



Length of Interview


Date of Interview

Spring 2015

Document Type

Oral History

Digital Format

1 MP3 (69.2 MB)

Digital Publisher

Fontbonne University Archives


St. Louis, MO


History of Religion | Oral History | United States History | Women's History

Additional Notes

Samantha Gildehaus is a senior majoring in social work at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri. Upon graduating in May (2015), Samantha hopes to find a job near her hometown in rural Missouri. She eventually wants to work with young children with learning disabilities. Originally wanting to teach preschool, Samantha switched paths to social work after volunteering at a crisis nursery. Last semester, she worked with elderly and homebound individuals. Her second practicum will find her assisting people who experience developmental disabilities. Samantha is a nature-lover, passionate about caring for the environment. She spends a great deal of time outside gardening, biking, reading, and writing. Samantha also loves healthy cooking, yoga, and being creative. Someday she would like to travel through Europe.

A rather strict Catholic sister served the church my family and I attended in a conservative, rural area of Missouri. She was keen on having everything in place—including the students filing into their pews before services. Along with the stories my grandparents told about the nuns and sisters that blistered their knuckles with rulers when they became too rowdy, I had no reason to think there was any other way to be a Catholic sister. Last year I had the opportunity to visit the Sisters of St. Joseph motherhouse in St. Louis with one of my social work classes. There I discovered that Catholic sisters, like all people, are unique with different personalities and talents. Their stories, as diverse as their characteristics, fascinated me. I am grateful for this experience, because it has greatly changed my view of these women. I now see Catholic sisters from a broader perspective, which I hope will continue to expand.

An unfortunate event led my family away from attending Catholic services. Afterwards, I had negative feelings associated with the Catholic faith. Recently, however, I became aware of the Catholic faith’s influence in shaping my family’s history. Personal growth in several areas of my life has reconnected me with my Catholic roots, although I no longer attend these church services. I am interested in many of the spiritual leaders associated with the Catholic Church. I am inspired by the lives of Mother Theresa and Saint Francis of Assisi, among others. Connecting to these Catholic representatives has encouraged my interest in this faith to be rekindled.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a religious person. I attend church on Sundays at a non-denominational Christian church. But that is where my religiosity begins and ends. I am more spiritual than religious. Nature is where I experience God the most clearly. The colors of the changing sky and characteristics of imperfect trees have encouraged me since childhood to contemplate the scope and complexity of life. I believe in experiencing God by following a unique path to spiritual knowledge and self-awareness. I believe God plants this path within us, and it is our responsibility to find and follow this path.

I chose to participate in this project for several reasons. First, I enjoyed visiting the sisters’ motherhouse. I love the history of the sisters that first came to America. And I loved the enthusiasm of the sister that shared the amazing stories of those that came before her. I believe I could learn a lot from a woman so closely associated with the sisters. Second, this project is a way to challenge myself. I am in a place of self-discovery, and this opportunity would push me outside my comfort zone—in a good way. And third, I chose to do this because I love to learn. This is my last semester before graduating from college and entering “the real world.” I hate the thought of passing up such a unique opportunity while I still have the chance to learn.

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Transcript unavailable.

Copyright Note

These oral histories are made available by Fontbonne University for research, educational, scholarly, and/or creative purposes only. All uses should adhere to the principle of fair use established under Section 107 of Title 17 the 1976 Copyright Act. More on fair use is available here: https://www.copyright.gov/fair-use/.

Interview with Lillian Baumann



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