Sr. Kimberly Ann Kessler professed her Perpetual Vows as a Sister of the Redeemer on December 9 at the Redeemer Sisters’ Chapel in Huntingdon Valley. Her journey as a Sister began long before the Affiliate stage. (Read more about the journey of becoming a sister.)
“Kim” grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, attending Redeemer Lutheran Grade School and Abraham Lincoln High School. From there she studied at Manor Junior College and Beaver College, now Arcadia University, majoring in pre-physical therapy and psychology. During this time she began an internship with Holy Redeemer Health System. This internship led to a job in the Rehabilitation Department of St. Joseph’s Manor.
Kim was raised Presbyterian . Church was not something regularly attended by her family but Christian values were an important part of her upbringing. While working at St. Joseph’s Manor she was first exposed to the Catholic faith through her work friend, Helen Vogt, and Sr. Bartholomew Proell, a Sister of the Redeemer.
Sr. Bartholomew invited Kim to Mass, prayer services and events with the Sisters. All of this was unfamiliar to Kim but she felt comfortable and interested in learning more. When Helen told Kim that she needed to tell Sr. Bartholomew she was not Catholic, she did not understand why. Helen knew Sr. Bartholomew was under the impression that Kim was Catholic. This became apparent to her when, at dinner one night with the Sisters, she was asked what parish she was from. Her response was: “I’m not from any parish. I’m not Catholic!”.
Sr. Bartholomew saw something in Kim at that time that she did not see in herself. She assisted Kim with the process of becoming Catholic through the R.C.I.A. program at Our Lady of Calvary Church in Northeast Philadelphia. Sr. Bartholomew knew God was calling Kim to become a Sister but Kimberly was very unsure.
Sr. Kimberly recalls “There was a yearning from within my heart and soul and I wanted to grow deeper in prayer. This was foreign and scary to me, it was a mystery. I kept questioning my prayer life and my faith. What did I know about praying and attending Mass regularly? But, God kept drawing me back to the Sisters and I wanted to be with them.”
During a trip to Germany she visited the Motherhouse of the Redeemer Sisters in Würzburg. There she realized God was truly calling her to life as a Sister….and as a Sister of the Redeemer. In 2006 she began the process of applying to the Congregation and began initial formation.
Her family initially had a difficult time understanding what it meant to become a Sister of the Redeemer and why Kim was interested. During her years of formation and education on the life of women religious and Sisters of the Redeemer, in particular, they began to accept her calling. Her father, sister, brother and their spouses, children, relatives and many friends were there to support her on the day she professed Perpetual Vows. Although her mother may not have been there in person, she passed away six years ago, she was looking down upon her. The ring placed on Sr. Kimberly Anne’s finger during her vows, signifying her ‘Yes’ to religious life forever, was her mother’s wedding ring and holds great significance for Sr. Kim.
Sr. Kimberly Ann Kessler is the Director of Vocations for the Sisters of the Redeemer and enjoys accompanying others who are exploring their call. She also serves as a Pastoral Care Associate at Holy Redeemer Hospital and St. Joseph Manor and is a healing presence to those she ministers to and with.