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Spanish teacher Bonkiewicz finds peace and joy in Consecreated Lay branch

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59db7a1e0bac5 Spanish teacher Bonkiewicz finds peace and joy in Consecreated Lay branch

Spanish teacher Bonkiewicz finds peace and joy in Consecreated Lay branch

This is a story of Karen Bonkiewicz, Pius X High School Spanish teacher, trying to clarify her calling.   

In third grade, a tug in her heart toward Jesus Christ. In high school, more of the same, except Bonkiewicz had her own plans. Didn't God know she looked forward to being a wife and mother?  

She finished high school, attended college and kept trying to reconcile this strong calling she felt with her personal desires.   

"I spent the next 10 years running and plugging my ears, saying, 'No, I don’t want to be a sister'," she said. "I didn't think the life of a sister was right for me, or what I thought was the life of a sister. It didn’t seem fun or enjoyable."  

In graduate school at the University of Kansas she met a group of holy and hilarious sisters from Italy called the Apostles of the Interior Life.  They showed her that one could have lots of fun and still be holy.  Being around them opened her to respond to the soft, yet persistent whisper from God inviting her to be a Sister.   

In 2008, Bonkiewicz entered the convent for Marian Sisters of the Lincoln Diocese. This would prove crucial, because it's where she nurtured her spiritual and prayer life. She loved it. She felt at home.   

Except for one part: her health.  

Chronic migraines plagued and exhausted her physically. She wasn't able to maintain the schedule required to stay in the convent, and by Canon Law she could not become a Sister if she was not physically healthy.   

More questions, less clarity, few answers. She returned to teaching and continued in her strong faith. When friends tried to set her up on dates, she thought, “Jesus would be so sad!”  Even though she left the convent she still felt a call to be the bride of Christ.  

But why pursue this calling she felt?  

"My simple answer, Jesus asked me. He provides joy and peace, and joy and peace have always been my guiding factors. If there’s joy and peace, I’m supposed to do it. When I was dating there was initial excitement, there was some joy, but there was no peace. 

Karen got back in contact with those joyful Italian Sisters.  They have 4 branches: the Sisters, the Brothers, the Family Movement, and the branch of Consecrated Lay Women.  She began to discern a vocation to the Lay Branch. 

On Sept. 9, Bonkiewicz became a consecrated laywoman with the Lay Consecrated Branch of the Apostles of the Interior Life  

Normally contemplative in prayer, she jumped down the stairs with enthusiasm after saying her vows.  

"I never doubted the call, for a long time I just didn’t know where Jesus wanted me to consecrated myself to Him," she said. "It was amazing! It was the holiest day of my life."  

As part of the Lay Consecrated branch, carries out a prayer life devoted to daily Mass, Holy Hour, rosary, mental prayer and more. But no habit, no other commitments a nun might have, other than a devotion to her community. She will attend regular gatherings, and an annual week-long silent retreat.  

She has taken vows of chastity, obedience and poverty.  

In her Spanish classroom at Pius X High School, where she has taught for 7 years, she finds peace and joy with her students. In that way, her students may not even notice.   

"Nothing has changed other than it’s official," Bonkiewicz said. "I have a sense of arrival, like 'Aaahh." It’s not an arrival that has ended, it’s a continuation."  


Pius X • 6000 A St. • Lincoln, NE 68510 • 402-488-0931 • Fax: 402-488-1061

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