Sister Laura Zelten

Work at the bakery prepared me for religious life

Zelten_Laura_Sister2012-100pxWhat was your first job before entering community or your first ministry? What did you enjoy about it?
I was the first- and second-grade teacher at St. Louis in Dykesville.  I loved the people of Dykesville and being in a rural setting.  Sr. Monica Rose was my first principal and she was kind, understanding and a lot of fun.   She taught me a lot about how to engage students of all levels of learning.

My very first job was working at Ford's Bakery in De Pere. Ford's was known for their great bakery in particular their Graham Cracker Cake.  Working at Ford's taught me a lot about the importance of reputation and history in an institution.  Ford's customers were like family. When they came in the employees could anticipate their needs.  As employees we were taught "customer first" respect and kindness were the norms in service at Ford's.  Skills learned on the job: How to cut up a whole chicken, how to fill cupcakes, how to trim and store fresh veggies and meats.  But most of all I loved working with the women -- Katie, Marcella, Kathleen and Dorothy.  I will never forget the bakers who spent long nights in the "back".  Casey and Norma Jean Kolb were always supportive and encouraged us to do our best by their example.  Working at Ford's Bakery set the stage for my religious life.

As Franciscans celebrate 800 years since St. Clare joined St. Francis in following Christ, what one facet of her life would you like more people to know?
Her friendship with Agnes of Prague.  How they wrote letters back and forth to each other.  My favorite image is the prayer she wrote on gazing upon Christ.

We often hear the phrase, "We are Easter people." What does it mean to you or how do you live it?
It means that I am called to be a joyful Franciscan and to see God in all of creation.  "Even when the blackbirds are eating the birdseed for the song birds."

What makes you laugh?
Most of the time I laugh at how God works in my life.  I can have the best laid plans for the future and God then reveals to me a whole different approach.