When School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) “retire,” it is called Prayer and Presence. When Sister Carla Huebner retired, she entered Service, Prayer and Presence. Many women religious never retire in the traditional way; often they move from a paid position to a volunteer position.
When Sister Carla made the transition from academia, she knew she would continue to use her gifts as an artist to serve sisters and others, which is why her time is spent in active Service, Prayer and Presence. In fact, some of the artwork displayed at Trinity Woods in Milwaukee, where Sister Carla lives, was created by her.
“Service, Prayer and Presence for me is being aware of, and attentive to, the needs of those with whom I live. I use the gifts God has given me. In my daily efforts to deepen my relationship with God; I open myself to His will,” said Sister Carla.
Sister Carla noted, “Sisters share spirit and life with everyone we meet throughout our lives.” In her teaching career, she taught in all grades. Sister Carla taught 14 years in elementary, 12 years in secondary and 25 years at university. During that time, she prepared and published a curriculum in art for the schools of the Milwaukee Archdiocese. This was also her thesis at Rhode Island School of Design.
“I am living a gifted life. The SSND saw my gifts and talents and nurtured them. It has been a blessing.”sister carla huebner, ssnd
After receiving a grant from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, she studied the connection between technology and art. She visited schools and learned how art and technology can be used in schools and the workplace. Sister Carla then developed curriculum for students and workshops for teachers. She shared what she learned via video, and also provided a website and CD for use by schools as aids to using technology in art making.
“Hopefully these efforts have empowered teachers to bring knowledge and beauty to the lives of students,” she added.
Sister Carla earned a bachelor’s in art with a minor in English from Mount Mary in Milwaukee. She received a Master of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also holds a Master of Art Education from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence.
In 2002, Sister Carla received the Wisconsin Art Education Association’s President’s Recognition Award; in 2003, she received the Outstanding Art Educator Award in the Higher Education Division; and in 2021, she was selected as “Distinguished Fellow” for the Wisconsin Art Education Association. Sister Carla has been a member of the Wisconsin Art Education Association for 22 years.
“I am living a gifted life,” said Sister Carla. “The SSND saw my gifts and talents and nurtured them. It has been a blessing.” She has shared her blessings in many and ever-changing ways.
“For me, it is two-fold: art making and art education,” said Sister Carla. “Also, my prayer life is very important to me. It was through the example of the school Sisters who taught me in grade school that I was drawn to this community. They were prayerful, excellent teachers, fun-loving and kind. It was also their encouragement that led me to become a professional artist. They were more than teachers to me.”
In 2009, Sister Carla began her Service, Prayer and Presence at Notre Dame of Elm Grove and then moved to Trinity Woods. “I love retirement,” said Sister Carla. “I am so busy! In addition to my prayer life and art, I am involved in Shalom activities, the SSND international network for justice, peace and integrity of creation. More than 2,500 sisters, associates and friends of SSND across five continents make up the Shalom Network. There is always something happening at Trinity Woods!”
Sister Carla said she wants supporters to know that they are appreciated for their kindness and generosity to sisters throughout their lives.
“Sisters use the gifts and talents God has given them throughout their lives. In retirement, they may have age-related limitations, but the inner spiritual life and wisdom of their years of experience and dedicated service is ever there to be shared. As an SSND, I am part of a community that continues to use its resources as part of its outreach and solidarity with the poor and needy.”
— by Trudy Hamilton