By Barb Arland-Fye
ELDRDIGE — Sister Mary Jo Loebig entered the Carmelite community in 1975, some 25 years after she first entered religious life, because she felt drawn to a life of prayer.
“I chose Carmel because of my deep attraction to prayer since youth. Carmel is a life of prayer in many ways,” she explains. “Prayer is our primary ministry and takes many forms – personal and communal. We also instruct and give help to others who request it.”
Sr. Loebig first felt called to religious life during the sixth grade, while attending Catholic school. “From youth, I was raised in Wesley, Iowa, population, 500. It is a very rural setting with rich soil. The rural setting was, and is, very attractive. The Franciscan Sisters from Milwaukee taught there. Although the Sisters are no longer there, it was — and is — a religious setting.”
When she was about 20 years old, she acted on her vocation to religious life and joined the Franciscan Sisters in Milwaukee. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1964, after majoring in chemistry, physics and math.
“As a Franciscan Sister, I taught chemistry, physics and math until I came to the Carmelite community. I also provided spiritual direction and gave retreats during that time, which later continued in my Carmelite life as well.”
At the Carmelite Monastery in Eldridge she prays, writes and helps with finance. As assistant prioress, she also serves as directress of formation for those seeking to enter the community.
Praying and living with the Sisters, and writing, give her a great sense of fulfillment.
Her preferred form of prayer, Sr. Loebig says, is “contemplative prayer, just appearing before God.” Her favorite prayer is prayer which is wordless. “Prayer for me is mostly ‘presence,’” she says.
There have been times when it’s been hard to pray. “I accepted it. That goes with prayer,” she continues. Spiritual reading helps during those times.
Sister also enjoys reading “books that carry new views and those that match my own spirituality.” An example is “The Joy of Full Surrender” by Jean Pierre de Caussade.
“I am an avid reader, mostly interested in what life is about,” she says. “Music has also been an important part of my religious life.”