Kathryn Knoll, SNJM
Born in Longmont, Colorado, Kathryn, the oldest daughter of James and Dorothy Knoll, came feet first and ready for the adventurous path that would lead her to the Holy Names Sisters. Since her father made a career of the U.S. Air Force, Kathryn, her two brothers and sister lived in Japan, Hawaii and in many places in the U.S. while experiencing life as a military family.
Kathryn learned she was a baptized Catholic when she was in the 4th grade and, along with her siblings, began learning the catechism and receiving the sacraments. The little mystic felt tuned into God through her adventures in nature. As she was acquainted with the Catholic Church, she felt the call of religious life. Even though she knew no nuns and did not attend Catholic school, the Spirit saw to it that Kathryn, upon graduating from high school, found her way to the Sisters of the Holy Names in Marylhurst, Oregon.
As a Sister, Kathryn spent her first 20 years teaching teenagers at St. Vincent’s and Sacred Heart Academy in Salem, Oregon and St. Mary’s Academy in Portland. During this time, she was also actively composing sacred music and working with music ministry in Salem parishes. Along with Georgie (Tribble) Decker, formerly an SNJM, Kathryn recorded and published an album of their music called “Music from Marylhurst.”
In 1982, she switched gears and began her journey as a clay artist, focusing on creating clay images that seek to heal heart and earth. In 1988 she co-founded Sophia Center, a study center created to support women’s exploration of art and spirituality. During its first 10 years when the center was located at Marylhurst, the now famous Hearthstones were conceived. The simple clay hearts have found their way around the world, assisting people to choose meaningful ways to respond to life’s challenges and deepen their spiritual connections.
While directing Sophia Center activities, Kathryn also earned a master’s degree in Art Therapy and extensively explored shamanism. Living at Marylhurst during those days allowed her to explore communication with plants and animals, soil and stones that have held Sacred Space for the Sisters, who have cared for the land they have called home for over 100 years.