SSND Associate: Karen Didier

Associate Karen Didier
Karen Didier
Franklin Grove, Illinois
Associate since 1987

“Everybody has their own gifts to offer. If you keep them inside you then you’re not helping people you encounter. That’s what I’m reminded of as an Associate.”
     -Karen Didier
For Karen Didier, being an Associate with the School Sisters of Notre Dame means helping others. She believes there is an opportunity to help someone in every action, every role, and every job a person may have.

“I was a bank teller supervisor and then a loan officer, which entitled me to say, ‘I’m here to help you get a car, get a loan or a credit report’,” says Didier, who retired in January of 2016. “A lot of people don’t understand the basic concept of their finances so to me that was how I could carry on the SSND mission. I enabled people to obtain a goal in their life just by educating them.”

Karen was first introduced to the idea of becoming an Associate by S. Marlene Panko, the adult education coordinator for her parish in Illinois. The two met in 1984 and in 1987 Karen became an Associate. Since then Karen says being an Associate has helped keep her in touch with her own spirituality.

“As a lay person when you’re working full time you sometimes let your spirituality slip through the holes and the sisters keep us focused,” she said.

Her fellow Associates create a community that she doesn’t always get in her day-to-day life.

“Women and men get together to share with one another, and it’s great support,” she said. “In the lay world you don’t get that. You need to have that little grasp to hang onto and hopefully be a better person for everyone you encounter.”

Karen says she is then able to carry that support and community in her heart. She is always looking for someone she can help, and the School Sisters of Notre Dame community provides many opportunities for connections.

“I recently met with a woman from South Korea, Hye-Sung Kim. She knows Sister Janice Nadeau in Rochester, New York and she went to the university there. She and her husband recently moved to Chicago and she is interested in becoming an Associate.”

She has since invited the couple to meet her fellow Associates and help them make new friends in their new city.

“Everybody will have their own gifts to offer. The SSNDs are saying God is asking you to use your gifts,” she said. “If you keep them inside you then you’re not helping people you encounter.”
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