Barbara Ann Svec was born in Traverse City, Michigan in October of 1938. She was the youngest of four, two girls and two boys. Of the four siblings, three found their calling as Benedictines and one brother has raised six children.
Sister Barbara’s life has involved significant medical challenges. A congenital circulatory condition required many surgeries as a child and interrupted her early elementary school years. By the time Barbara was ready for first grade (at the ripe old age of 51), the family had moved back to Chicago and she attended St. Pius and, subsequently, St. Vitus and Holy Mount, where she was taught by the Benedictines. Health problems surfaced again prior to high school and a slow healing leg fracture kept Barbara out of school for two years.
Upon her recovery, it was decided that Barbara could attend Sacred Heart Academy where her sister, Agnes Ann, had entered. She enrolled in 1953 as a sophomore. Following a spring 1956 graduation, Barbara entered the community. She recalls feeling, as a young girl, that there was something “mysterious” about the Sisters. She watched them as a student and thought that the Benedictine community might be a place where she could learn about God and her faith. She was attracted to their vocation of teaching.
Sister Barbara’s ministry of education took her to a variety of schools over the years in the Chicago area as well as Texas. Chronic trouble with her leg required an amputation in 1966, but Sister Barbara has been characterized by one of her physicians as OTC (One Tough Cookie!) and she soon recovered from that surgery and was back to teaching. Her longest assignment was at Benet Academy where she started out as a Geometry and Algebra teacher, but found her niche as the school Scheduler. This work involved preparing all the course schedules, arranging for the faculty’s teaching schedule and finally, scheduling all the students. Sister Barbara thoroughly enjoyed this work and performed this role until the school computerized much of this process.
Now back home at the monastery, Sister Barbara has been involved in many community roles, including editor of the Sisters’ newsletter and membership on the Monastic Council. Currently, she is meticulously computerizing all of the Sisters’ archive materials. She is especially interested in recording the stories of all the Sisters, living and deceased, who make up the history of the Lisle Benedictines.
Her newsletter skills have lead to volunteer work for the Lisle Heritage Society and participation in the Friends of the Lisle Library. Sister Barbara has enjoyed many hobbies over the years including knitting and collecting postcards, but these days she is mastering scrapbooking.
The renovation work here at the monastery signaled exciting change for Sister Barbara. She is enjoying settling into a new space and meeting the residents who will live at Villa St. Benedict.