Prioresses of Saint Benedict’s Monastery
Saint Benedict’s Monastery
Founded: July 4, 1857
St. Cloud, Minnesota
Vicariate of Northern Minnesota
Former Prioresses (Episcopal Appointment)
Mother Willibalda Scherbauer
Mother Willibalda (Franciska) Scherbauer was born in 1828 in a secularized monastery in Kastel, Bavaria, the daughter of Johann Nepomuk Scherbauer and his second wife, Margaret Sander. Franciska entered the Convent of St. Walburg in Eichstatt, Bavaria, and was professed on November 13, 1851. Four years later in 1855, she volunteered to join the Benedictine Sisters who had gone to the United States earlier; she was among the third group sent to the newly founded convent at St. Marys, Pa. In 1857 she was appointed by her superior, Mother Benedicta Riepp, to head the group sent to found a new convent in St. Cloud, Minn., and a few months later Abbot Wimmer appointed her as first superior of the St. Cloud Convent. For 11 years she guided this small community until she was deposed in July 1868 by the newly elected Minnesota abbot, Rupert Seidenbusch, OSB. After her deposition from the office of prioress, she obtained permission to change her obedience to some other Benedictine convent and accordingly spent some time in Shakopee, Chicago, and Pennsylvania, but in 1871 she returned to St. Joseph. During the following year she was sent to open a new school in New Trier, Minn., where, during the course of the next five years, she attempted to found an independent convent. The attempt failed because the bishop of St. Paul did not approve of opening another convent in his diocese. On October 18, 1877, she was re-admitted to Saint Benedict's Monastery. She spent the next 25 years as organist and music teacher in New Munich, Pierz, Chanhassen and St. Joseph. She celebrated her golden jubilee on November 13, 1901, and died on February 12, 1914.
Mother Antonia Herman
Mother Antonia Herman (Herrmann) was born in Krautheim, Baden, December 22, 1835. After coming to the United States, she entered the Benedictine Convent in Erie, Pa., on January 15, 1857, and pronounced her first vows on November 13, 1857. In 1861 she was sent with a group to found a new convent in Chicago, where she pronounced her final vows on November 13, 1862, and served as superior for two years. In July 1868 Abbot Rupert Seidenbusch (without consulting the members of the community in St. Joseph) brought Sister Antonia from Chicago to St. Joseph, appointed her as prioress and deposed Mother Willibalda Scherbauer. Following the deposition or resignation from office of prioress, in the midst of her second term in 1877, Mother Antonia returned to Chicago. Soon after she responded to a plea from Bishop Martin Marty to teach the Indians at Fort Yates, S.D. She was later received into the Yankton community and served as a teacher until ill health forced her to retire. She died at Pierre, S.D., on January 30, 1912, where she is buried.
Mother Aloysia Bath
Mother Aloysia (Mary Helen) Bath was born in Addison, Wis., on November 7, 1849, the daughter of Jacob and Sophia Bath. At the age of 15 she entered the newly founded community of St. Agnes in Barton, Wis., where she spent the next six or seven years teaching in public and parish schools. (There she was given the name Aloysius.) Upon the advice of her confessor, she entered Saint Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, Minn., on May 31, 1871, received the habit on August 22, 1871, and pronounced her first vows August 29, 1972. (Here she was given the name Aloysia.) For the next three years she was in charge of the parish district school in St. Joseph. On September 1, 1875, she pronounced her perpetual vows, and on September 4 was sent to St. Cloud where she taught in the parochial school for one year. On September 2, 1876, she was sent to Minneapolis where she took charge of the newly opened school in St. Joseph Parish. She remained there until February 21, 1877, when she was appointed Mother Superior of Saint Benedict's Monastery by Bishop (became bishop in 1875) Rupert Seidenbusch. She held this office until April 10, 1880, when the Bishop finally accepted her resignation. She then returned to St. Joseph Parish in Minneapolis where she remained in charge of the school until ill health forced her to return to Saint Benedict's on July 10, 1883. For a number of years she was in charge of the needlework department and the stationery store in the academy. On June 4, 1887, she was appointed second assistant to Mother Scholastica and, on April 22, 1889, she was given charge of the novitiate. On August 28, 1889, in the community's first free election, Mother Aloysia was chosen prioress for a six-year term, and on July 30, 1895, she was re-elected for another six-year term. Mother Aloysia died on April 16, 1933.
Mother Scholastica Kerst
Sister Scholastica Kerst was born at Muringen, Rheinish Prussia, on June 21, 1847, and came to St. Paul with her parents Peter J. and Mary Kerst in her infancy. She entered St. Gertrude's Convent in Shakopee, Minn., on October 11, 1862, was invested January 6, 1863, made temporary vows April 24, 1864, and perpetual vows January 6, 1869. In April 1877, Bishop Thomas Grace, OP, granted permission to transfer her obedience to one of the convents in Pennsylvania, but with advice and persuasion of Abbot Alexius Edelbrock, Sister Scholastica was admitted into the community at St. Joseph, Minn., on August 30, 1877. In April, 1880, she was appointed Mother Superior of Saint Benedict's by Abbot Alexius, an office she held until 1889. During her administration, the community expanded its membership, buildings and ministries. She opened three frontier hospitals: St. Alexius in Bismarck, N.D. (1885); St. Benedict’s in St. Cloud (1886); St. Mary’s in Duluth, Minn. (1887). After her term as prioress, she taught school at Perham and at Moorhead until 1892 when she joined the new foundation in Duluth where she was again appointed superior by the local ordinary. She died in Duluth on June 11, 1911, where she is buried.
Mother Aloysia Bath
Mother Aloysia (Mary Helen) Bath was born in Addison, Wis., on November 7, 1849, the daughter of Jacob and Sophia Bath. At the age of 15 she entered the newly founded community of St. Agnes in Barton, WI, where she spent the next six or seven years teaching in public and parish schools. (There she was given the name Aloysius.) Upon the advice of her confessor, she entered Saint Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, Minn., on May 31, 1871, received the habit on August 22, 1871, and pronounced her first vows August 29, 1972. (Here she was given the name Aloysia.) For the next three years she was in charge of the parish district school in St. Joseph. On September 1, 1875, she pronounced her perpetual vows, and on September 4 was sent to St. Cloud where she taught in the parochial school for one year. On September 2, 1876, she was sent to Minneapolis where she took charge of the newly opened school in St. Joseph Parish. She remained there until February 21, 1877, when she was appointed Mother Superior of Saint Benedict's Monastery by Bishop (became bishop in 1875) Rupert Seidenbusch. She held this office until April 10, 1880, when the Bishop finally accepted her resignation. She then returned to St. Joseph Parish in Minneapolis where she remained in charge of the school until ill health forced her to return to Saint Benedict's on July 10, 1883. For a number of years she was in charge of the needlework department and the stationery store in the academy. On June 4, 1887, she was appointed second assistant to Mother Scholastica and, on April 22, 1889, she was given charge of the novitiate. On August 28, 1889, in the community's first free election, Mother Aloysia was chosen prioress for a six-year term, and on July 30, 1895, she was re-elected for another six-year term. Mother Aloysia died on April 16, 1933.
Mother Cecilia Kapsner
Mother Cecilia (Mary) Kapsner was born in Dambrau, Prussia, on October 20, 1859. In 1874 she came with her parents Frank and Theresia to the United States. The family settled in Pierz, Minn. Two years later she entered Saint Benedict's Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., where she was invested in 1877. Her first vows were pronounced on May 19, 1878, and she made her final profession on July 14, 1881. Before she was elected as prioress on July 27, 1901, Sister Cecilia served her community as teacher, mistress of novices, and for 18 years as subprioress and bookkeeper. She was the first prioress who lived in this area and received her formation at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. Gifted with keen perception and ready judgment, she provided leadership under which the community prospered and grew. During her three consecutive terms as prioress (1901-19), there was considerable material expansion. This included the building of an infirmary at the motherhouse (1904), an addition and laundry at St. Joseph's Home in St. Cloud (1910), a new St. Alexius Hospital in Bismarck, N.D. (1914), the Sacred Heart Chapel and a new wing (Teresa Hall) for the college (both in 1914), plus many other improvements at the motherhouse. During these years, too, the Benedictine influence in the Midwest was extended as the growing community accepted 28 new missions; of these two were in North Dakota and one in Wisconsin. The continuity and deepening of this influence was assured by the establishment of a four-year college in 1913. After serving as prioress, Mother Cecilia continued to exercise her personal influence on the formation of the younger members of the community as mistress of the temporarily professed sisters from 1921-1937. She died on August 16, 1952, at the age of 92 in the 75th year of her religious profession.
Mother Louise Walz
Mother Louise (Louisa) Walz was born in Baden, Germany, on December 19, 1864, the daughter of Ferdinand Walz and Ursula Haller. At the age of eight, she came to the United States with her parents. She entered Saint Benedict's Monastery on October 18, 1884, pronounced her first vows on July 11, 1887, and her perpetual vows on July 11, 1880. Prior to her election as prioress in 1919, she served the community as teacher, assistant novice mistress, and as subprioress from 1902-1919. During her three terms as prioress (1919-37) she continued the brick and mortar expansion policy of her predecessor, Mother Cecilia Kapsner. St. Walburg's Hall was built as a dormitory and art needlework department; the Scholasticate was erected to accommodate the large number of candidates; and the St. Cloud Hospital was completed in 1928. Due to the debt incurred by the latter building just before the Depression, Mother Louise had to use all of her resourcefulness to keep the community afloat financially. Among her many duties was service as the president of the College of Saint Benedict. Although she herself had only an eighth grade education, the college received accreditation during her term. It was also during her term that the community was called upon to carry the light of Christianity across the Pacific to the Far East. In response to this call, a Chinese mission was accepted, and in 1930 six Sisters left to open a women's college at the Catholic University of Peking. Mother Louise died on January 22, 1944.
Mother Rosamond Pratschner
Mother Rosamond (Maria) Pratschner was born near Fingal, N.D., on September 22, 1885, the daughter of Michael and Elizabeth Leitner Pratschner. She entered Saint Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, Minn., in 1904, pronounced her first vows on July 11, 1906, and her perpetual vows on July 11, 1909. Prior to election as prioress she taught in elementary and high schools. She served as subprioress from 1919 to 1921 and as private secretary to the prioress from 1929 to 1937. In 1937 she was elected prioress (eighth) and held this position from 1937 to 1949. Always a woman of vision and deep faith, Mother Rosamond led her community during a period of trial and growth. With unusual business acumen, as well as courage and stamina, she stabilized the community's financial status during the burdensome post-Depression years, seeking the help of competent lay advisors. She was a dedicated educator, encouraging her Sisters to maintain high standards in their professional work, whether teaching, nursing or homemaking. In her worldwide concern for the Church, she responded to the request for health care in Ogden, Utah, and was instrumental in establishing missions in Formosa and Puerto Rico. In the 1940s she forwarded the cause of the community's gaining pontifical status by forming independent priories in Bismarck, N.D.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Eau Claire, Wis., in order to establish a federation. This was a prerequisite to forming the Congregation (termed Federation since 1975) of Saint Benedict of which these priories then, along with Saint Benedict's, became members. Mother Rosamond became the first president of the Congregation and served in this capacity for six years. From 1955 to 1958 she served as superior at St. Mary's Convent, St. Cloud. She retired in 1958 taking up the apostolate of visiting the sick at St. Cloud Hospital. She died in the convent infirmary on April 12, 1969.
Mother Richarda Peters
Mother Richarda (Lucille) Peters was born in Minneapolis, Minn., on October 2, 1895, the daughter of Hubert and Mary Igel Peters. She entered Saint Benedict's Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., on September 3, 1912 and pronounced her first vows July 11, 1914. Even before making her final profession in 1917, she had begun her long career as an educator. Between 1914 and 1939, living at Holy Angels Convent in St. Cloud, Minn., she taught in the parish grade school and in Cathedral High School, serving as principal of the latter from 1928-39 and again from 1946-49. In the interim she completed doctoral studies in psychology and psychiatry at The Catholic University and served as the dean of residence and as a member of the faculty at the College of Saint Benedict. Elected as prioress of Saint Benedict's Monastery in 1949, her concern for the next 12 years was the welfare of the Sisters. The same skill in loving, efficient teaching and administration that had won the admiration and love of several generations of students came into full flower as she met the challenges of her community's expanding apostolates in the Church at home and abroad. Mother Richarda had a deep appreciation of the Consecration of Virgins, an ancient sacramental rite made available to American Benedictine Sisters by Pope Pius XII in 1950 upon the request of the American prioresses during their Holy Year pilgrimage to Rome. After prayer and study, the first group of Sisters of Saint Benedict's Monastery was consecrated in 1954. In 1954 Mother Richarda was elected president of the Congregation of Saint Benedict, a position she held until 1966, five years beyond her term as prioress. She was deeply involved in the work of renewal and adaptation within the Church, within the Congregation, and within her own community. Her diaries and notes attest to her intent of keeping informed and her interest in continuing education both professionally and spiritually. In 1961, at the end of her term as prioress, she received a deeply cherished tribute, the Mother Richarda Peters Scholarship established in her honor by hundreds of those who had been her students and her friends, in appreciation of her care for them. From 1961-67 Mother Richarda served as superior of the St. Cloud Hospital Convent. On the occasion of the golden jubilee of her profession, she was awarded the Bishop's Medal of Merit, the first Sister to be so honored. After 1967 she returned to Saint Benedict's to be responsible for the aged and infirm in the motherhouse, but in a few years she herself became a patient suffering from lung cancer until her death on July 5, 1972.
Mother Henrita Osendorf
Mother Henrita (Annetta) Osendorf was born in Richmond, Minn., on August 22, 1906. She entered Saint Benedict's Monastery on August 28, 1923, pronounced her first vows on July 11, 1925, and her perpetual vows on July 11, 1928. Prior to her election as tenth prioress of Saint Benedict's Monastery in 1961, she served as a teacher in Pierz and in Cold Spring, as librarian at the College of Saint Benedict (1938-43), as novice mistress (1943-60), and as subprioress in 1960-61. She served two consecutive terms as prioress, from 1961 to 1973. Mother Henrita's service as prioress occurred in the challenging years of renewal following Vatican Council II. The changes in the Church and in religious life, while necessary and growthful, caused anxiety and confusion for many. Mother Henrita had a keen sense of the readiness for change in the community. She met the need for change with instruction, compassion, a sense of balance and a sense of timing that guided the community through the troubled times with equanimity. Though a number of Sisters discerned a change in their commitment to religious life, the community was able to withstand the departures and the many transitions that occurred in community prayer, work and life together. One of the most difficult, yet imperative, changes that Mother Henrita made was to guide the community through the process of separately incorporating its institutions of education and health care. After leaving the office of prioress, Mother Henrita continued working in spiritual direction and counseling at the monastery and for retreats. She also continued to serve on the Board of Trustees of the College and St. Cloud Hospital, and on the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities of the St. Cloud Diocese. She died on February 12, 1992.
Sister Evin Rademacher
Sister Evin Rademacher was born in Rosen, Minn., on August 2, 1926. She entered Saint Benedict's Monastery as a high school student, pronounced her first vows on July 11, 1946, and made her final profession in 1949. Prior to her election as 11th prioress of Saint Benedict's, she served the community by teaching on the elementary, secondary and college levels. She also served as religious superior at Cathedral High School Convent, coordinator of the Millstream House of Simple Monastic Observance, director of renewal, and as president of the Federation of Saint Benedict. In addition, she served on the Council, Board of Trustees of the College of Saint Benedict, and various community committees. She served as prioress for two consecutive terms, from 1973-81. It was during her term that the title "Mother" was discontinued. Sister Evin continued the renewal, adaptation and restructuring begun by Mothers Richarda Peters and Henrita Osendorf. She led the community to the decision to renovate the Sacred Heart Chapel, the outstanding symbol of the community's work of renewal. It was also her conviction that the Sisters in the foreign missions and in areas at a great distance from the motherhouse would be more effective in their cultural adaptations if they became autonomous priories. Accordingly, she assisted the Sisters in Ogden (Utah), Manchester (N.H.), Japan, Taiwan, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico in their first step in achieving this goal, namely, becoming dependent priories. After leaving the office of prioress, Sister Evin went to Manchester, N.H., where she taught in St. Anselm's College, served as regional superior, and as social worker at St. Theresa Manor nursing home. She returned to Saint Benedict's in 1989 where she worked for various intervals as nurse’s aide at Saint Scholastica Convent, in Saint Benedict's Business Office, the Development Office and was instrumental in developing the space and the program that became known as Studium. In her retirement, she assisted the archivist in organizing and computerizing community records.
Sister Katherine Howard
Sister Katherine (formerly Kieran) Howard was born in LaCrosse, Wis., on January 24, 1936. She entered Saint Benedict's Monastery on December 2, 1956, and made her final profession on July 11, 1961. Prior to her election as 12th prioress of Saint Benedict's Monastery in 1981, she served the community as teacher of Latin and religion at Cathedral High School; as instructor in Latin and theology at the College of Saint Benedict; as director of alumnae relations, 1969-1974; and as vice-president of academic affairs, 1974-1977. She served as subprioress from 1977-1981. When she was elected to the office of prioress, she took up the challenge of the radical renovation of Sacred Heart Chapel. She successfully led the community through the transitions of theological and liturgical updating and the changes in community living which this project demanded. After her second term as prioress in 1989, Sister Katherine spent nine months at Osage Monastery, Sand Springs, Okla., in study and renewal. In June 1990, she assumed the office of Executive Secretary of the Aide Inter Monasteres North American Board for East-West Dialogue. She also serves as a director of retreats (especially on centering prayer), gives spiritual direction and serves as the novice director. She has written articles and books on spirituality—the latest, Praying with Benedict, Meditations for Advent.
Sister Mary Reuter
Sister Mary (formerly Isaias) Reuter was born on September 8, 1938, in Medicine Lake, Mont., but spent most of her early life in Hastings, Minn. Prior to entering Saint Benedict's Monastery in 1957, she completed one year at the College of Saint Benedict. She made her final profession in 1962. In addition to completing her B.A. at the College of Saint Benedict in 1964, she taught (mostly in junior high school) until she was called to serve as subprioress from 1971-1977. From 1977-1982 she attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh where she completed a doctoral degree in formative spirituality. She then taught in the Theology Department at the College of Saint Benedict until she was elected prioress in 1989. Sister Mary worked closely with the College of Saint Benedict in maintaining a joint relationship and with dependent priories, especially in the Bahamas and Utah, as they moved toward independence. She re-established the Office of Planning and led the community through the intricate process of developing a Comprehensive Facilities Plan. Her doctoral training prepared her for the task of continuing the community's development in formative spirituality through the programs offered by the Lifelong Formation Committee. After leaving the office of prioress in 1995, Sister Mary participated in the Wellsprings program at Glens Falls, N.Y., for a semester and as a visiting student at Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., for another semester. When she returned to Saint Benedict's, she resumed her teaching in the Theology Department at the College of Saint Benedict.
Sister Ephrem Hollermann
Sister Ephrem Hollermann was born in Melrose, Minn., on July 13, 1942. She entered Saint Benedict’s Monastery on September 8, 1961, and made her final profession on July 11, 1967. Prior to her election as 14th prioress of Saint Benedict’s Monastery in 1995, she served the community as a junior high teacher of English and religion in various schools throughout the Diocese of St. Cloud, 1964-1974; as teacher of religion at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud, 1974-1976; as director of novices and initial formation at Saint Benedict’s Monastery, 1976-1983; as a doctoral student in historical theology, 1983-1987; and as assistant professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University, 1987-1995. Early in her first term as prioress, in a further effort to reclaim its monastic identity, the community decided to describe itself as a monastery rather than a convent, and became known as Saint Benedict’s Monastery. As prioress, the focus of her teaching was a comprehensive reflection on the biblical and monastic foundations of Benedictine life within the universal call of the Church to holiness. The community’s directive at the beginning of her first term was to implement the Comprehensive Facilities Plan approved in 1994. Within six years significant progress was made, most notably the addition of an assisted living wing at Saint Scholastica Convent, the establishment of the Art and Heritage Place and program, and the relocation and expansion of the Spirituality Center. During her second term, the community embarked upon their first-ever capital campaign making possible the renovation and restoration of the main monastery building. After 10 years as prioress, S. Ephrem spent a year in Studium, the community’s scholar-in-residence program, resuming her research and writing interests, as well as preparing for her return to the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University as an associate professor of theology in the fall of 2006.
Sister Nancy Bauer
Sister Nancy Bauer was born in Miesville, Minn., on November 13, 1953. She made her monastic profession in 1978. S. Nancy holds a bachelor's degree in photo journalism from the University of Minnesota, a master's degree in theology from Saint John's School of Theology and a doctorate in Church law from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. For two decades, S. Nancy worked as photographer, reporter and eventually editor of The Saint Cloud Visitor, weekly newspaper of the Diocese of St. Cloud. She also served time as vice chancellor for the St. Cloud diocese, as associate editor of Sisters Today for two years, as Community Relations Consultant at St. Benedict's Center and as a visiting instructor in canon law at St. John's University School of Theology. Sister Nancy has been an active member of many monastic committees: the Monastic Council, Federation of St. Benedict Council, Chair of Visitation Task Team and of the Discernment-Election Committee, and a delegate to the General Chapter on two occasions. Her membership, as well, included the Diocesan (St. Cloud) Finance Council, Performance Improvement Committee of St. Cloud Hospital, Liaison Committee of the Catholic Press Association-Catholic News Service, Advisory Committee of Saint John’s University School of Theology, and the College of Saint Benedict Board of Trustees. As 15th prioress of Saint Benedict's Monastery, S. Nancy was installed on Sunday, June 13, 2005. She attended to the overall leadership of the community and encouraged Sisters to live their monastic mission to the fullest—to listen and respond to the needs of the Church and the world through their ministry of prayer, work and community. Her six-year term witnessed several significant events, including the celebration of the monastery's sesquicentennial and merging with the Sisters of St. Bede Monastery, Eau Claire, Wis. S. Nancy is a prolific writer and researcher and avid photographer of nature. Among her hobbies are embroidery, camping, fishing, hiking, snowshoeing, and reading.
Sister Michaela Hedican
2011 to Present
Sister Michaela was born in Virginia, Minn on September 4, 1945. She attended the Benedictine staffed Regis High School in Eau Claire, Wis., and joined the Sisters of Saint Bede Monastery during her senior year of high school. She made her first profession July 11, 1964 and her perpetual profession in 1967. S. Michaela is a graduate of the College of Saint Scholastica, Duluth and holds two master's degrees, one in religious education from Seattle University and the other in theology from Saint John's University School of Theology. She was a middle school teacher from 1966-1984. From 2003-9, S. Michaela served as President of the Federation of St. Benedict and as Prioress of Saint Bede Monastery from 2008 until joining this community in August, 2010. On February 27, 2011, she was elected 16th prioress of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict and installed on June 5, 2011.