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Farewell, Sister Beth

After more than three decades on campus, Sister Beth Finster is retiring and leaving

On April 10, 2018

 

SISTER BETH FINSTER / Photo by LO DODSON

 

BY EMILY JONES / VN ASSISTANT EDITOR

To anyone who lives in Shiple Hall, Sister Beth Finster has been a resident grandmother of sorts.

But this will be her final year on campus.

At age 70, she is retiring, soon ending a solid 30-plus years spent living around freshmen.

This fact becomes more apparent the longer you talk to her.

The first thing that she brings up is Candy Crush, which she says is “an addiction.”

Or, rather, it used to be, until her iPad busted a while back.

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Sister Beth, as she’s known, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Medaille College. After she went on to get a master’s in European history from Xavier, she worked as a high school teacher for many years.

The position’s many responsibilities beyond teaching burned her out.

Sister Beth grew tired of “always being the bad guy” – the result of having to discipline students and catching others doing things the wrong way.

She yearned for a fresh start, which led her to obtain a second master’s degree, this one in pastoral studies, from Loyola University in Illinois. (“Go, Ramblers!”)

She landed at University of Detroit Mercy in 1985, and has become an increasingly familiar face on campus and in University Ministry ever since.

Because of the emails that University Ministry sends out, you may be aware of the multiple service trips sponsored by the department. Those service trips (and their frequency) are partly a result of Sister Beth’s work.

She lists them as one of her biggest achievements.

Another two are becoming assistant director of University Ministry and acting as chaplain for the athletes on campus.

She attends games and prays with and for the sports teams whenever she can.

“I think sometimes we forgot about our athletes,” she said.

As far as disappointments, Sister Beth said that her biggest one is the reality of retiring.

She lamented being unable to do some of the things that she used to do because of her age.

However, when one door closes, another one opens, she believes.

She appears optimistic about the future, saying that she plans to go back to her hometown of Buffalo and hopes to keep working, which seems to be a trait she can’t shake.

She also hopes to keep interacting with college students, noting she is “used to living with 18- to 19-year-olds.”

She absolutely loves being around young people, she said.

As a self-proclaimed night-owl – her brain “kicks into gear around ten” – she has had no issues living with a younger crowd, she said.

She also maintained that she has never felt any generational gap, something to which coworkers can attest.

Tanalynna Johnson, who works in the ministry office, described Sister Beth as “very funny.”

She is also the first person Johnson met at school.

She said that everyone – including Johnson’s own mother – likes Sister Beth.

Student Kendall McCarter also had warm words for Sister Beth.

She is “very intellectual and kind ... always down to earth,” he said, adding “She’s always got your back.”

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