Sister Susan Youst, SNDdeN
September 22, 1941 - March 8, 2021
“I wait for the good God. I look at Him, I follow Him. This is the one cry of my heart - “My God, what wilt Thou have me to do?”
(Saint Julie Billiart, Foundress, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur)
Susan Kay Youst grew up in Lancaster, Ohio with her younger brothers David and Roy. Her father worked in the auto business and eventually operated several service stations in the area while her mother worked at home. The family was active in the local Methodist Church and Susan attended the local public schools. She graduated from Lancaster High School in 1959. Susan enrolled in Mt. Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.
At Mt. Carmel, Susan met the Sisters of the Holy Cross. She also met other nurses-in-training who became life-long friends. Susan started going to Mass on Sunday with her classmates, and found she felt closer to God through the Catholic worship practices than she did in the Methodist service she had known all her life. The Sisters made the necessary arrangements for Susan, and another interested student, to be instructed in Catholicism. Susan and her classmate were baptized at St. Joseph Cathedral on June 6, 1961. Both young women had the joy of making their First Communion during Mass in the chapel at Mt. Carmel. Afterwards, two of the Sisters cooked them a celebratory First Communion breakfast.
After graduating with her RN, Susan joined the staff at Mt. Carmel for a year before moving to East St. Louis, Illinois where she worked at St. Mary Hospital. She spent two years at St. Mary’s and then returned to Columbus where she worked at Mt. Carmel for a year, then in a doctor’s office, and then at a nursing home. She loved Mt. Carmel, but the doctor’s office and nursing home allowed her to spend more time helping to care for her mother who was sick. Mrs. Youst died in 1968. Susan’s brother, David, died in 1971.
Following her mother’s death, Susan returned to Mt. Carmel to do the work she loved as an operating room nurse. Outside of work, she kept up with her friends and became actively involved in St. Agnes Parish. There Susan participated in Christ Renews His Parish, a charismatic prayer group, discussion groups, and other adult religious formation experiences. It was at St. Agnes that she met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who taught in the school, and coordinated the religious education programs for all ages. Her involvement at St. Agnes, and relationships with the Sisters of Notre Dame, opened a door for Susan to begin seriously discerning a call to religious life. She would later write, “I was always interested in religious life, even before I was Catholic. It always sort of fascinated me. And once I became a Catholic, I always had this idea in the back of my head about being a religious. But I’d say, ‘Nah, you’re too old.’” It was while talking with a group of parishioners that Susan heard one of the Sisters say sometimes vocation took a while, not everyone entered straight out of high school. Susan followed up on that comment and soon was talking to the Vocation Director for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Encouraged to explore a number of communities, Susan joined a monthly discernment group and visited a number of communities. Even though she was a nurse, and the Sisters of Notre Dame focused their work on various forms of education, it was with the SND’s that Susan felt at home. But she hesitated. Then one night she while praying and asking God if she was really called to religious life, the song Be Not Afraid was playing. Susan felt God settle something within her and her decision was made: she would enter the Sisters of Notre Dame.
Susan entered the Notre Dame community at Rich Street in Columbus. She spent her affiliation year and her first year as a Novice at Rich Street and then moved to Cincinnati for her second year of novitiate. Because she did not need further preparation for ministry, Susan spent that year studying scripture, theology and Church history at Edgecliff College. It was also an opportunity for her to get to know more of her Sisters in the Cincinnati area and experience life in a smaller community than the 50 she had lived with at Rich Street. These initial years of formation stretched and deepened Susan’s relationships with God, herself and others in ways she could not have imagined. She took the next step into living her call when the community affirmed her request to make her vows as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur.
Good Samaritan Hospital would be the site of Susan’s ministry for the next 16 years. Since she’d been away from nursing during her initial formation, she served on a medical surgical floor at first to sharpen her skills. When a position for an operating room nurse became available, Susan jumped at it. When the long hours of standing needed for the operating room became increasingly difficult, she found a position in the offices of a group of internal medicine doctors. Susan finished her nursing career by giving service at Mt. Notre Dame.
Then she saw an opportunity to serve in a very different way.
She became the assistant to the Director of Power Inspires Progress based at St. Joseph Parish in downtown Cincinnati. Susan described this ministry as being a “Jill of all needs”. She served as receptionist, helped with the food bank (including learning to drive a van to pick up foodstuffs for the foodbank), helped the staff with whatever was needed. The ministry with PIP gave Susan an opportunity to work directly with and for people trapped in poverty. It also enabled her to use different gifts in ministry – including her gift of stretching dollars further than they should be able to go. Susan loved to shop and had a knack for finding bargains on just what was needed. The staff at PIP gladly gave her the opportunity to help them stretch an already thin budget. Susan continued at PIP until increasing health issues brought her to the Mt. Notre Dame Health Center Community in 2009. She served the Health Center community as a driver and shopper as long as she was able. Susan continued to serve through her cheerful presence and through her prayer.
Throughout her life in Notre Dame, Susan shared her talents in whatever way she could. She was a great cook and an excellent grocery shopper. Susan was a welcoming presence to Sisters and guests. A strong introvert, she sincerely enjoyed interacting with people and built strong friendships with her Sisters. Susan was a great listener, and loved hearing the stories of others – even if the same stories were repeated again and again! She loved card games, dominos, scrabble, computer games, swimming, being out in nature, sketching, reading, listening to music and traveling. Susan did not sing, but she enjoyed participating in the chime choir and found creative ways to add to community talent shows. Susan LOVED to travel. One of her fondest memories was traveling with friends to Rome for Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization and seeing Pope Paul VI. She also traveled to Namur for the Final Vow Program in 1988, visiting Sisters in England and Scotland along the way. It was an opportunity to build relationships with Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from around the world, and to make a pilgrimage to Julie land. Susan also had the opportunity to visit Jumet, the ancestral home of her mother’s family. She also traveled closer to home to regularly spend recreating time with Sisters in Buffalo and Louisville. Susan was an active member of the Ohio Unit Assembly and regularly participated in ongoing formation programs offered by the community. She loved experiences that stretched her spirituality. One of them was the Joy of Seasons program held annually through which she gathered with a diverse group of women to pray and simply celebrate life.
Susan was glad she entered religious life at a time that allowed her to stay in touch with her family. She regularly visited her father and stepmother, Betty, as well as Roy, Terry and Stephanie. Susan stayed in touch with Betty until her death. Susan very much appreciated her sister-in-law staying in touch and sending regular pictures and news about David’s sons Steven, Michael, Jeffrey and Gary. She was so grateful to Roy and Terry for the phone calls and visits they made to her when she could no longer go to them.
When Susan made her vows as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, she acknowledged her frailty as a human being and expressed her vows as joyous response to God’s enduring love for her. Her desire was to respond to that love by living in a loving and compassionate manner that helped her, and all she shared her life with, to know God’s goodness more deeply. During an interview in 2018, Susan expressed her gratitude for her call to religious life and the grace God had given her to respond to that call. She felt that following this path had opened her to grow and serve in ways she might never have discovered. Susan said, “I just feel blessed!” Now her Sisters, family and friends have the opportunity to reflect on the blessing she has been to each of us. We give thanks for all the ways she made God’s goodness known to us. We reflect on how Susan loved the new life that arrives with the season of spring. While we will miss her, we ask her to continue to pray for us, and we give thanks that it was on a lovely early spring day that Susan once again received the grace to hear and follow God’s call:
Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come, follow me and I will give you rest.
(Be Not Afraid by The Saint Louis Jesuits)
- Born September 22, 1941 at Mt. Vernon, Ohio
- Parents: Roy Arnold Youst (born in New Straitsville, Ohio) and Bertha Paques (born in Utica, Ohio)
- Siblings: David Youst, Roy Alan Youst
- Baptized on June 6, 1961 at St. Joseph Cathedral, Columbus Ohio
- Confirmed on May 21, 1963 at Chapel #5, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois
- Entered September 5, 1978
- First Profession: September 7, 1980
- Final Profession: November 5, 1988
- RN in Nursing, Mt. Carmel Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, 1962
- Associate Degree in Nursing, Gateway Community College, Florence, Kentucky, 1996
- Assignments as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Included:
- 1977-1978 Nurse, Mt. Carmel Hospital, Columbus, Ohio
- 1978-1979 Intercommunity Novitiate, Mt. St. Joseph, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 1979-1980 Student, Edgecliff College, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 1980-1996 Nurse, Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 1996-2001 Receptionist, Queen City Physicians, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 2001-2002 Mt. Notre Dame Convent, Reading Ohio
- 9/1/2002-8/1/2009 Assistant to Director, Power Inspires Progress, Cincinnati, OH
- 8/1/2009 – 03/09/2021: Community Service and Ministry of Prayer, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
Died March 9, 2021 at Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading Ohio
Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
March 10, 2021