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Unsung Hero: Sister Rachel Castillo

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MURPHYSBORO, IL (WSIL) -- As a local Nun celebrated 49-years of service this week. Administrators at SIH share their appreciation for her work in southern Illinois over the last 14-years.

Sister Rachel Castillo has devoted her life to service, and much of her work has been in southern Illinois. Sister Rachel is the Spiritual Care Manager at St. Josephs Hospital in Murphysboro. She also helps coordinate the services across the entire SIH corporation and works with chaplains at other facilities.

"As a Nun, we are called to use our talent, and I've been given, through the grace of God, many talents. I would be cheating God, and I would be cheating the people here if I didn't use those talents to serve them," explained Sister Rachel.

Sister Rachel has been a Nun for 49-years, celebrating the anniversary of her first vows just July 19, 2021. She went to St. Joseph from Houston, Texas 14-years-ago and she said that is the longest she's ever stayed in one place for ministry work. Usually, it's no more than three years in one location. She said, after few years, she knew she had to stay because there was work God wanted her to do. When she first arrived, she had four key categories that needed attending too. That four quickly turned into 24 things.

"I didn't say, well how much am I going to get paid for it, or is there going to be a position or elevation of position here? I saw the need. I took care of it for the greater honor of God. It's not about climbing the corporate ladder. It's about attending to the people here."

In her time here, Sister Rachel started Spanish classes for six different groups and eight sessions each, and it was all done after hours. One of her biggest challenges came during the coronavirus pandemic. At that time, no one except the nurses was allowed to have contact with patients. That's when she said she had to get creative. She worked with the nurses to find ways to communicate with patients. She used Zoom and phone calls outside of a patient's room for communication with loved ones. Even though she was in charge of spiritual care, she has been a counselor, a mentor, a friend, and so much more. She's not only been there for patients but also staff and administrators. SIH President CEO Rex Budde recalled a time Sister Rachel was there for him during a hard time.

"Over the years, she's become an amazing friend. When my wife died seven years ago, I leaned on Rachel heavily, and she taught me that compassion can be endless," said Budde.

Budde said she is completely focused on others and truly selfless. He described her as an absolute role model for good.

"Sister Rachel is an amazing human being with boundless energy and the kindest, most welcoming heart you've ever met in somebody. You cannot make a request of her when someone is in need, that she will not do everything in her power to take care of it," added Budde.

Sister Rachel plans to retire in October and go back to Houston to be with her family. Budde said when she leaves, others will step up, but there will never be another like Sister Rachel.

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Evie Allen

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