Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletMay 27, 2020

Sisters' Stories

Sister Diane Schoff, CSJ

My name is Diane. I entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1972 at the age of 21. All these years later, I can still say it was the best decision of my life. It was not, however, an easy one. I felt that God hounded me until I finally said, “OKAY, OKAY, YES.”

Most significant in my choice was the belief that God was calling me, and the example of the sisters at Rome Catholic High School. My first real contact with sisters was there. Having gone to public grade school, my only contact with “the nuns” was what I heard from my older brothers and sister. That scared me. When I came to know individual sisters, however, I was drawn by the mystery of their lives. An internal battle began. Throughout high school I bounced between the absolute certainty that I was meant to be a sister and the equally strong assertion that I wanted no part of it. At the end of my junior year two significant things happened. On the last day of school, I spoke with Sister Francis Gilchrist and told her that I wanted to enter after my senior year. Then during that summer I fell in love with Rick.
My dilemma deepened and was to continue for another four years. I knew I wanted my life and my work to be one. I had a desire to help, to make a difference, to change the world. I was (and still am, I suppose) a romantic, an idealist. Which choice was right for me? I wanted to marry Rick and have a family. I wanted to enter the convent and be a missionary. Obviously, I could not do both. In my search for answers I went to college for a semester. After that I went to work and had about twelve different jobs in three years. My parents dubbed me a quitter. Somehow, I knew it was a part of the search for answers.
I prayed fervently. “Okay, God, I’ll do anything you want (just let it be to marry Rick!).” I could then go to sleep. My more honest prayer was “God I’ll do anything You want.” Then I cried myself to sleep. Rick served a year in Vietnam. When he returned we broke up. I had the freedom to date other people and discern my vocation without pressure. I fled, but God was faster. I hid, but God knew the hiding places. I talked to people at work about entering, but mostly it was just to shock them. Then one day I made a slip of the tongue and that’s what got me into the community. In talking with a woman at work I said “when I enter” instead “if I enter.” She asked, “Is that what you are going to do?” I said, “Yes.” That was May. In August I entered the Sisters of St. Joseph!
During my years in community I have lived and worked in Latham, Utica, Binghamton, Arizona, Norwich, St. Louis, northern New York and Menands. I’ve been a teacher, parish minister, cook, religious education director and office worker. I probably have not changed the world very dramatically, but my life is more whole today. I am a member of a congregation of great women who live lives of dedication and service. I am proud, happy, and grateful to God who cared enough to pursue me and who continues to love, challenge and lead me.