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Meet our donor Don Stoll

Meet our donor, Don Stoll, who grew up in the center of a family blessed with three SSND aunts. This photo is of him and his immediate family, including children and grandchildren.Don Stoll grew up in the center of a family blessed with both men and women who were called by God to vocations. He has three paternal aunts, Sisters Ara Coeli Stoll, Mel Marie Stoll and Marie Gabrielle Stoll who are all School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) and two uncles who are priests. Five out of seven of his grandmother’s children chose a life of service to God. This may in part be due to his grandmother’s prayers.

As a young woman, Don’s grandmother dreamed of becoming a SSND. However, when she went to her father for permission to join, he flat out refused. Saddened over her inability to join, she sought the council of a SSND asking, “What do I do now?” The sister advised Don’s grandmother to ‘listen to her father, but pray for vocations.’ She went home and began praying as the sister had instructed. In time, her prayers would be answered in a different way, with two sons who became priests and three daughters who became SSND.

As a child, Don vividly recalls his parents picking up their grandmother every Sunday morning and driving across and around the state of Wisconsin to participate in Mass with a SSND aunt or another SSND friend of the family. His grandparents were grateful to be chosen to visit the sisters at the former motherhouse because the sisters were not able to go home at that time. After Vatican II, his mother helped the sisters make skirts out of old habits and permed their hair on request.

Over the years, Don’s family would invite various sisters to the family’s cottage in northern Wisconsin. He recalls offering to give a sister a ride on a snowmobile. Suited up, the duo began to traverse the Wisconsin wooded terrain; a sharp corner sent the sister sprawling across the snow. Terrified he had injured the sister when she fell off the sled, Don quickly ran to her side to see if she was okay. He asked the sister if he should take her back to the cottage to seek medical help, but the sister jumped up, brushed off the snow said, “No way. Let’s go snowmobiling.”

Throughout Don’s life, he has actively engaged with many SSND, as well as many other congregations of sisters such as the Carmelites. He jokes that his wife calls him the ‘nun magnet.’ Wherever Don is, it seems so too is a sister.

“The SSND are caring, selfless, humble servants of God,” said Don. “They have always occupied a special place in my heart, and I know that I was blessed to have grown up so close to the SSND. Without the SSND, our educational systems would have struggled to establish itself. The sisters were instrumental in helping children to receive the education they would need to be successful adults. My grandmother always loved that so many of her children decided to go into religious life, choosing the vocation she had prayed for all along.”

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