Mulvane native home on sabbatical

Sr. Dara Vishnefske in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita. (Advance photo)

Sr. Dara Vishnefske working with Spanish-speaking families

Sister Dara Vishnefske considered what it would be like to be a mother, but chose a different path.

“Family life is a beautiful vocation, but I felt like Jesus wanted my heart even bigger,” she said. “In belonging to him, I could have a universal love for everyone – every person he puts in my path.”

Sr. Dara, a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor, grew up a member of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Mulvane and attended Mulvane High School before enrolling at Benedictine College in Atchison.

She began seriously considering religious life in her junior year at Benedictine and came into contact with the Little Sisters of the Poor house in Kansas City, Missouri.

Studied in France before move to Peru

After professing in 2010, Sr. Dara continued formation in the U.S. and at the motherhouse in France and was assigned in 2017 to Peru where she spent three years working with the poor. At end of 2020, she was moved to serve the poor in Santiago, Chile.

“We have the same mission there in taking care of the elderly,” she said, “but my role was what we call a ‘begging sister’ or a ‘collecting sister,’” she said.

She visited schools, offices, markets wherever there was food and potential financial donations for the needs of the sisters and for the elderly they care for.

Sister Dara is home on a six-month sabbatical but asked Danny Krug, director of Hispanic Ministries, if she could be of assistance in a way that would help her retain her Spanish language skills.

Making pastoral visits

“They matched me with some Hispanic families and so I’m making pastoral visits, visiting families who might be going through hard times,” she said. “We need someone to listen to us, to connect to, and to share our stories. It’s a big honor to be able to just listen and to share with the families.”

She has been visiting families every three weeks or so, and spending up to an hour and a half with them. At times she has been able to assist some families through Catholic Charities.

“A lot of the families are undocumented so it’s harder for them when they need a little extra help to know where to go,” Sister said. “I’m happy to help them try to maintain a decent quality of life and to be able to primarily provide emotional and spiritual support.”

She is the daughter of Mark and Patty Vishnefske, members of St. Michael parish.