2014 Jubilarian – Paraclita Schnebelt
Sister Paraclita Schnebelt grew up with an identical twin sister; their father had difficulty telling them apart! Her father owned a bakery in Dexter, Mich., and the girls worked there when they were teens. Sister Paraclita learned to decorate birthday and wedding cakes from watching her father and credits her parents for a wonderful Catholic upbringing.
When she was a junior in high school, her twin contracted tuberculosis. She was quarantined and lived in a sanatorium until she died at age 24. By that time, Sister Paraclita had joined the IHM community. “We were very different,” she says. “She was going to have 12 children and had names for each of them. And I was the opposite. I wanted an education.”
When Sister Paraclita graduated from high school, she had scholarships to attend Marygrove College and the University of Michigan. She chose Marygrove because of her excellent IHM teachers in grade school. While she was at Marygrove, she decided to join the community. She was drawn to the IHMs because “they were good teachers and they were very educated.”
Sister Paraclita recalls a time when the men of a particular parish questioned the sisters’ education. She put an announcement in the parish Sunday bulletin, which silenced the critics; 13 of the 15 sisters in the convent had their master’s degree and the other two were going to finish that summer. Deeds such as this have marked her time with the community.
Sister Paraclita taught at St. Joseph in Monroe and St. Mary Academy, as well as in eight different high schools. “I had more fun teaching boys because they would confront you and they want the answers to things.”
Sister Paraclita attended Marquette University for her master’s degree in guidance and counseling. When she returned, she became a full-time high school counselor. She enjoyed researching colleges and universities for her junior and senior students. Additionally, her brothers, who had been in the Navy, gave her an insight into what the armed forces could offer her students.
Thinking about the changes the community has experienced over the years, Sister Paraclita fondly recalls Vatican II. “It gave people more say. You have to remember, people are better educated today than they were.”
Sister Paraclita continues to feels well and credits her longevity to the healthy diet her parents made her eat when she was a child and that she has maintained throughout her life. She is grateful for all her experiences since joining the community. “It’s been a wonderful life. I love being a sister. I loved being a teacher. I loved being a counselor. I’m very grateful for the education the community has given me.”
She also appreciates the many opportunities she has had to read scripture and her close relationship with God, a friendship that is very apparent when she tells of occasionally asking God when it will be her time to die. She reports that God says, “Shut up Paraclita!”