July 2010: SISTER JOLINDA SNYDER
Born on January 9, 1928, Sister Jolinda (Ruth Beatrice Snyder) is the fifth of seven children in the Sylvester and Adeline (Spayd) Snyder family of Huntingburg, Indiana – a small town in the south central part of the state. Her grade school was at St. Mary’s parish taught by Benedictine Sisters where one of her memories was learning to sing the Gregorian chant liturgy which she has always loved. The music even found a place occasionally at home. “My family sometimes had baby chicks in the summer months, and when one of the chicks died my siblings and I would sing the Gregorian funeral liturgy when we held a burial service in the corner of the yard,” Sister Jolinda said.
During her senior year of high school, she decided to be a nurse. “This was during the war, I felt it was important to make my life count in some way,” Sister Jolinda said. She also began to consider possibilities of religious life. “I had brochures from about 100 religious communities,” she said, deciding on the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis following a visit to the Motherhouse with her mother.
A life of service
She graduated from high school in May 1946 and entered religious life in Springfield on September 8, 1946. “I was ready to be a nurse,” she said. She made her First Profession of Vows on June 13, 1949 and sent to St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing. In early September, she received an obedience from her superior (a routine practice in which an assignment was communicated) to enroll in St. Louis College of Pharmacy. She took the entrance exams and moved there soon after to begin pharmacy school. “I was numb,” Sister Jolinda admitted. “I had taken chemistry in high school and liked it,” she said, but the professional life as a pharmacist was new to her. “It was a four year program that she completed in three because, at the time, men were enlisting and being drafted for Korea and so the College in St. Louis offered a complete semester each summer,” she said. Her superiors recognized a gift in Sister Jolinda who served as a pharmacist for 36 years in the Sisters’ hospitals including St. John’s (Springfield), St. Vincent (Green Bay), St. Joseph’s (Highland), St. Anthony’s Memorial (Effingham), and St. Nicholas (Sheboygan).
One story at St. John’s still makes her smile. “A medication was accidentally dropped into the dumb waiter shaft. The dirt floor was within six feet and so one of the Sisters said ‘I’ll hold onto your feet if you reach down to get the medication.’ So as she held onto my feet, I reached down for it and she pulled me back up. I was much younger then and agile too,” Sister Jolinda recalled.
Other professional experiences
Sister Jolinda attended a one year Theology Renewal Program at Marillac College in St. Louis in 1969-70. In addition she served a three year term at Provincial Secretary from 1976-79.
Since August 1990, she has worked as a receptionist and telephone operator at the HSHS Information Services Center. “When I was in high school, I worked part time in the Huntingburg Telephone Exchange. That equipment of cords and plugs into a switchboard panel is a far cry from the combination computer switchboard that I now use,” she said.
Her coworkers witness her Franciscan spirit in action every day. Barry Waitkus, Senior Functional Analyst/Materials Management, explained that “Sister Jolinda’s presence is a reminder to everyone that we are all there for more than just enhancing our careers and that the Core Values of Respect, Care, Competence, and Joy are our inspiration and motivation.” Barry is also an Associate of the Hospital Sisters and introduced to the experience by Sister Jolinda. Since 1987, the Hospital Sisters have welcomed Christian women and men of at least 18 years of age to become Associates by sharing in their life, prayer and healing ministry for the purpose of deepening their baptismal commitment and fostering the call to holiness.
Travels and hobbies
Having traveled to Assisi and Rome, Italy and the Motherhouse in Muenster, Germany, Sister Jolinda again had the opportunity to visit Muenster and the Polish Province of the Hospital Sister of St. Francis in 2007. “That visit made me very aware of the effect the communism had on the country and I admired the Sisters for all their sacrifices and prayer life. They are a people very proud of Pope John Paul II, originally from Poland, who is honored in many places throughout the country,” she explained.
Blessed with artist abilities, Sister Jolinda has undertaken several forms of embroidery – a hobby she began when she was five years old. She has also practiced knitting, tatting, calligraphy, water color painting, and rosary making.
This is a story of prayer, faith, humor, and hard work and we are honored to recognize our Sister Jolinda who continues to be an example to many.