Alumna, former faculty member returns home to her roots
“Maybe there is a fine line between teaching and acting,” said Sister Angelyn Dries, OSF, ’70, with a smile when asked why she ventured into teaching. Anyone who knows former Stritch faculty member Sister Angelyn or has taken one of her classes knows her to be a burst of energy – someone who teaches with passion, enthusiasm and curiosity.
“You don’t learn what you’re not curious about,” said Sister Angelyn on her approach to education.
Last July, Sister Angelyn celebrated her 50-year Jubilee as a Sister with the Sisters of Saint Francis of Assisi. And she spent most of those years as an educator, 14 of which were at Stritch.
For someone who wanted to help people see a bigger world, Sister Angelyn thought that teaching was the best way to do that. While attending a Catholic grade school and, later, St. Mary’s Academy in Milwaukee, Sister Angelyn felt drawn to the Order of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Assisi, who provided her with an avenue for pursuing that vocation.
“I found the Sisters to be joyful women with good values,” said Sister Angelyn on her decision to join the Community just out of high school.
After high school, Sister Angelyn enrolled at Stritch, pursuing an English degree while simultaneously teaching.
“That is what you did in those days,” Sister Angelyn said. “We would take classes on the weekend and in summer while we taught during the academic year."
After earning her undergraduate degree from Stritch and, later, a master’s and doctoral degree, Sister Angelyn took on roles in newly developed religious education divisions for parishes and schools.
“Religious studies and vocation development became much more of a focus after Vatican II,” Sister Angelyn said.
That experience eventually brought her back to Stritch. Though she taught many religious-focused courses during her years in the Religious Studies department at Stritch, Sister Angelyn is likely most remembered for the faith development course she helped create. As part of the liberal arts curriculum, the course included students from all majors.
“The course was spiritual and content-based material. It challenged students to look at ‘faith’ in various forms and then they had to define what that word ultimately meant to them by the end of the course,” Sister Angelyn said.
“Seeing students understand that there is something worthwhile and important within the context of ‘religion’ as a subject was very rewarding,” said Sister Angelyn.
That rewarding work continued for Sister Angelyn in 2003 when she was offered an Endowed Chair in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University. The role provided her with the resources and time to further her own research and study while also offering new opportunities to pursue initiatives that inspired her passion.
“I helped develop the intercultural studies center for the university, which was very exciting,” Sister Angelyn said. “I also was able to bring notable speakers and presenters to campus which helped the faculty to see their subject material in a much bigger picture, on a larger platform."
Sister Angelyn taught mainly graduate-level courses at Saint Louis, which was different from the mostly undergraduate courseload she taught at Stritch.
“What was neat was that I was then able to mentor many of my grad students into their chosen field,” Sister Angelyn said.
Now back in her home state of Wisconsin after spending eight years in St. Louis, Sister Angelyn is enjoying being back in a place she loves.
“I’m rediscovering the state,” said Sister Angelyn who noted that she hopes to learn to kayak this summer.
And although she officially is retired from teaching, she remains busier than ever in her reading and research.
“I always have been interested in the ‘why?’ Why did that happen? Why was that decision made?” said Sister Angelyn.
That curiosity drives her desire for research and writing. Sister Angelyn has published numerous articles and papers as well as two books.
“Being able to publish my own material is something I’m very proud of,” said Sister Angelyn who is working on her third book
Looking back on a fulfilling career and the new adventures that lie ahead, Sister Angelyn is most proud of her former students. She keeps a cherished scrapbook that contains class photos of each group of students she has taught since the early 1980s. In fact, that was one of Sister Angelyn’s trademarks as a professor – she always took a class photo before the end of each semester. Today, the scrapbook is full of cards, letters and small treasures that her former students have shared with her over the years since taking one of her classes.
“Seeing and catching up with my former students is such a thrill for me,” Sister Angelyn said.
You can connect with Sister Angelyn by contacting her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.