Cloistered Sisters of the Visitation welcome Sister Katherine Chantal
After several decades of soul searching, trials, tribulations, and some painful disappointments, Katherine Bollig ultimately found exactly where Christ needed her to serve His Church. Today, she is Sister Katherine Chantal, a member of the Sisters of the Visitation in Toledo, Ohio — a cloistered order of nuns whose roots trace back to France more than 400 years ago.
The sisters arrived in Toledo in 1915, and the first bishop of the diocese stated that their mission was to “remain upon the mountain top in prayer and sacrifice, pleading for the salvation of souls, particularly those of the diocese: clergy, religious, and laity.”
Now serving with 15 other nuns in that mission, 48-year-old Sr. Katherine said her work “brings me such a sense of peace and joy. I have a deep understanding of what God has asked me to do in my life. And there is a joy that comes from knowing that I’m doing what He is desiring. It’s just a beautiful life.”
A 1992 graduate of Coppell High School, Sr. Katherine holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Dallas, a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in visual arts studies from the University of North Texas, and a Master’s Degree in theology from Ave Maria University.
Her education, coupled with her work in teaching and a previous pursuit of a religious vocation, all helped Sr. Katherine hear God’s calling to religious life with the Sisters of the Visitation. On Aug. 28, 2022, the nun professed her solemn vows with the order.
Sr. Katherine grew up in Amarillo, moved to Coppell during high school and attended St. Ann Parish there. She said she first heard God’s call in 1994 while she was a pre-med student at the University of Dallas.
“I was in a hospital cafeteria and I heard this interior voice say, ‘You’re going to be a nun.’
I knew in my heart that it was our Lord,” Sr. Katherine said, “and it struck me because I wasn’t really practicing my faith. But I recognized His voice. It was Him.”
It would be another 10 years before Sr. Katherine responded to God’s call. In 2004, she joined the Sisters of Life in New York City, professed her first vows and was active in prayer and helping women deal with crisis pregnancies. “It was beautiful work,” she said.
After three years of temporary vows with the Sisters of Life, Sr. Katherine’s health declined and she had to leave the order.
Returning to North Texas, Sr. Katherine was disappointed, but not defeated.
“I was praying, discerning, and trying to understand my faith better, knowing that I had this call,” Sr. Katherine said. “I felt the call so strongly and wondered, ‘What is the Lord doing?’”
Sr. Katherine moved progressively in a direction that brought her nearer to that answer.
She strengthened her faith by pursuing a master’s degree in theology, which she earned on May 31, 2014 — the feast day of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin. On that feast day, Catholics celebrate when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visited her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John.
Around this same time, Sr. Katherine began traveling to Toledo to learn more about the Sisters of the Visitation and their contemplative life.
“I fell in love with the order and teaching,” Sr. Katherine said. She was also inspired when she discovered the story of Sr. Françoise-Thérèse “Léonie” Martin, sister of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Sr. Françoise also suffered health problems that temporarily precluded her from becoming a religious sister. She eventually persevered, became a nun with the Sisters of the Visitation in Caen, France, and her cause for sainthood is underway.
These experiences eventually led Sr. Katherine toward professing her vows with the Sisters of the Visitation in Toledo. Her eight-year journey with the sisters began with Sr. Katherine’s first visit in 2014, continuing with her first vows in 2017, and her solemn vows in August.
Sr. Katherine said she knows now what God was calling her to do.
“When I heard His voice initially, it was in that deepest place in the heart where the Lord truly dwells in us,” she said.
Sr. Katherine’s parents, Laurie and Randy Bollig, operate the Loreto House pregnancy care center in Denton. Each said it was difficult at first to accept that their daughter would be joining a cloistered monastery 1,100 miles away. Now they both accept it as a divine blessing for their daughter and the Church.
“Seeing her face just glow with happiness, seeing her just so happy, so full of joy, that’s all a mother could want,” Laurie said. “She’s waited a long time for this.”
“When you go into the convent, it’s like having one foot in heaven,” Randy added. “Their prayers are holding up the Church. Every father wants his daughter to marry the best person possible. She has married Jesus and I couldn’t ask for better.”
“It’s interesting how our Lord takes us during the course of our everyday situations and gives us our vocation,” Sr. Katherine said. “He does this throughout the Bible.
“God definitely wanted me to be here, and now the Church has confirmed it.”