Recipients of Mother Benedicta Riepp Award


2016 Kathleen (Kathy) Langer

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Kathleen (Kathy) Langer was selected to receive the 2016 Mother Benedicta Riepp Award at Gratitude Day on Friday, August 19, 2016.

Kathy is a wife, mother, grandmother and one who is generally concerned for the welfare of others. She is a women of deep faith. As a young mother, she became more involved in her parish as a volunteer. As her children grew, she served as religious education director at their Catholic school. She discovered she could make a difference in the lives of teens and volunteered in youth ministry. This turned into 16 years of fulltime youth ministry. Kathy has also served at the SCSU Neman Center as pastoral associate. She was part of the first Sophia Group offered at our Spirituality Center.

Since 2007, Kathy has been the Director of Social Concerns, Catholic Charities, serving the Diocese of St. Cloud. Her dedication and faith in God is evident in her work with people of different cultures and/or faiths and in helping others to come together in dialogue to help bring peace and understanding. Special prayer services and other events that Kathy organizes help build understanding across cultural lines, all in the context of faith in action. She serves as diocesan director for Catholic Campaign for Human Development in the Diocese of St. Cloud. Along with Doug Scott, Kathy helps to organize the annual Rural Life Celebration for the Diocese. Her vision is not only local but extends to outreach with the Homa Bay, Kenya and Maracay, Venezuela, diocesan outreach efforts.

Kathy received her M.A. from Saint John’s School of Theology and has recently completed her time as an adjunct professor for the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. With the same dedication that Mother Benedicta demonstrated, Kathy has reached out to serve God and God’s people.

2015 Lana Faber

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Thirty-five years of service! That’s the length of Lana Faber’s service to poor, homeless and hurting people through Catholic Charites--a true witness to living Benedictine and Gospel values.

As a counselor and youth minister at the Children’s Home, Lana partnered students from Cathedral and Rocori High Schools with students at the Home to help them experience a sense of community and to learn what dignity of all persons means. She developed special programs to assist students deal with guilt and grief. Now, as the coordinator of Domus Transitional Housing, she shares her deep faith through providing positive experiences of community living.

Lana also serves the veterans at Al Loehr Veterans’ Community where she works with volunteers to enhance veterans’ living spaces. One veteran remarked, “Lana, no one listens to me like you do.” Another channel for her faith and talents is serving as a board member for the Franciscan Community Volunteers and the Boys/Girls Hope of St. Louis, Missouri.

An Oblate of St. Benedict, Lana volunteers at Saint Scholastica Convent and sings with the Schola at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. With the same dedication that Mother Benedicta demonstrated, Lana has tirelessly reached out to those who may be struggling and made a difference in the lives of countless people.

2014 Lorrayne Traut

LTraut1.jpgLorrayne Traut exemplifies Benedictine and Gospel values. Fundamental to her faith is the use of prayer as a way to stay linked to God and to others: her prayer is always translated into action. A mother and teacher who passed on her Christian values to her children and students, she has continued to touch people’s lives positively and directly, wherever she sees a need. Lorrayne and her husband, Vic, are very active within their parish of St. Paul’s, Sauk Centre, Minn. Among a host of activities aimed at spreading the Gospel and helping others, Lorrayne is a lector and a Eucharistic minister, including taking Holy Communion to those who are homebound. As well as being involved in a support circle which counsels and offers guidance to newly married or newly engaged couples, Lorrayne also began, and continues to run, a Befriender support group to help those grieving the loss of a loved one. An Oblate of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, Lorrayne is a woman who “listens with the ear of her heart” (Rule of St. Benedict: Prologue) and opens that heart to all. As her son, Terry Traut, said: “My mother speaks most loudly with her actions.”

2013 Maxine Barnett


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Maxine Barnett learned a life of respect, hospitality and service to others from the early teaching of her mother. That was the beginning of a life dedicated to the Gospel way of living, commitment to Catholic social justice principles, and to the same values that inspire the Benedictine way of life.

At the core of Maxine’s life is her capacity to give herself generously, not only in her work as administrator of Anna Marie’s Shelter in St. Cloud, Minn., but in her dedication to every aspect of need in the St. Cloud area civic and church communities.

Just as Mother Benedicta Riepp acted with vigor and courage, willing to take risks to bring justice and compassion to those most in need, Maxine does whatever it takes to alleviate all forms of violence and abuse, and to work for peace and human dignity. She has touched the lives of many people with her compassion, integrity, listening heart and sense of humor. Maxine is the kind of person who can meet those who are often marginalized, as well as those who are presidents and CEOs, offering the same kind of dignity and respect to all.

2012 Irene Pundsack

Irene P..jpgIrene Pundsack is a woman with a listening heart, a deep commitment to the Gospel and Benedictine values, and the initiative and energy to respond to need where she sees it in daily life. Irene is a testament to the fact that ordinary people can do extraordinary things, and make a lasting impact on the world around them through gentle, but determined, dedication to living out their faith.


For more than 50 years Irene lived, worked, prayed and played with our sisters at St. Raphael's Convent, and shared the joy of her family life with them. She did not simply do her job, but always gave herself unstintingly, going the extra mile and marrying kindness to competence. Her warmth and hospitality to our retired and sick sisters is a fine example of Benedictine values come alive.


In retirement, Irene has continued to model tirelessly the Benedictine values of awareness of God, service to others, listening, hospitality, stewardship and community building. Her work with Place of Hope, Hope Park, and involvement with her local church and neighborhood demonstrates her commitment to helping the marginalized and disadvantaged in our society. She is an inspiration to all who know her.

2011 Margaret (Margy) Hughes


Margy Hughes has a long association with the sisters, going to back to 1966 when she began working in the physical education department at the College of Saint Benedict. She was one of a handful of lay people in the faculty, but throughout her 38 year career she was a model of the Benedictine values, building a culture of welcoming hospitality for students and fostering a deep respect for others.

She continues to be very active in the local community and maintains close ties with the sisters. As well as volunteering at the monastery, Margy works with S. Thomasette Scheeler as board member for the Millstream Festival. She also works at events at St. John's University (donating the money she earns to the Saint Joseph Parish Quilters) and chairs the Saint Joseph Action Group, whose latest venture is bringing a thrift store downtown.

2010 - Mary Jo Willette Hughes

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A graduate of the College of Saint Benedict, Mary Jo Willette Hughes credits the sisters with teaching her to trust in God. She has been faithful to that philosophy throughout her life. A wife, and the mother of seven children, she began teaching music at Saint Augustine’s School in Saint Cloud, when her youngest went to kindergarten.  After teaching she worked with the Family Life Bureau in Saint Cloud but, following a year’s sabbatical with her husband, decided to quit her and focus on poetry and music. She has been the guitarist at Saint Joseph’s, Waite Park for many years and began writing poetry at the age of 58. Mary Jo has published three books of poetry and has also put her poetic talents to a practical use, leading poetry therapy sessions for clients of the Alcohol and Chemical Addiction Program at Saint Cloud Hospital.

To purchase one of Mary Jo Willette Hughes’ books of poetry, go to the Web site for North Star Press, or contact Mary Jo at To read three poems by Mary Jo Willette Hughes, click here.

2010 - Joan Strom Riebel

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Right from being a student at the College of Saint Benedict, Joan Riebel Strom was inspired by the Benedictine value of hospitality which saw the sisters living out daily. In turn, she has inspired others with her ability everyone and anyone feel welcome and build community. Amongst her many caring activities, she has turned part of her property into a community garden, whilst at the same time working for 26 years as executive director of Family Alternatives, a private non-profit foster care agency for adolescents with mental health diagnoses. She has also remained closely associated with several sisters through her ongoing contact with the College, which includes a period serving as president of the Alumnae Association.

2009 - Patricia Welter

pat welter.jpgPatricia Welter was taught by Benedictine sisters as a high school student in Bismarck, North Dakota, and as a student at the College of Saint Benedict. It was these experiences which nurtured her strong belief in community, inclusiveness and hospitality. These principles were evident in her career as a teacher and administrator in the Saint Cloud public school system in the 1980s and 1990s where she worked to develop a culture of respect and acceptance for children from different backgrounds. She has also worked to bring these values to the broader community, serving as a board member for Anna Marie’s Alliance, an organization that works with battered women and their children. Currently, she is active on the board of Somali Elders Council, helping then become a non-profit and supporting their integration into the local community. 

2008 - Lois LeVasseur Liners

lois liners.jpgLois Le Vasseur Liners has Benedictines in her blood--two aunts were sisters at Crookston. Her Benedictines ties were strengthened as a student at the College of Saint Benedict, where she majored in social work and learnt the important lesson of putting the client first and caring for the whole person. Lois and her husband, Bob, have used their retirement to share these values with a worldwide community, establishing two dental clinics for impoverished communities in Kenya and Guatemala. They have made scores of mission trips to the clinics as and raised funds to provide items such as window screens and mosquito nets for a hospital and two orphanages in Kenya. In addition, they have supported Kenyan students to further their education, and Lois has also found time to become a certified ESL teacher and to volunteer at the local hospice. 

2007 - Connie Zierden 

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Connie Zierden was an exemplar of Benedictine living throughout her long life. Her love of learning and teaching was apparent at Saint Benedict’s Academy and the College of Saint Benedict where she was loved and respected for her professionalism and guidance; student teachers, principals and peers all noted her positive impact on young, future teachers, igniting in them a love of learning and culture. In retirement, Connie maintained a close connection with our sisters through her volunteer work and tireless promotion of the Benedictine spirit and mission. She also lived out her Benedictine values of respect for persons, service and hospitality in the wider community, including time spent with Dorothy Day, herself a Benedictine oblate.

2007 - Ann Cofell

ann cofell.jpgAnn Cofell, a Saint Benedict’s High School alumna and 1977 graduate of the College of Saint Benedict, has chosen to devote her entire professional life as a lawyer to helping the voiceless, especially women and children. She is a champion of people at risk, who experience discrimination, poverty, abuse and neglect. In this she mirrors the values and actions of Mother Benedicta Riepp and our early Sisters who acted courageously on behalf of those without homes, money, education, health care and opportunity. Ann uses her legal expertise as a ministry of healing and provides a fine example of a woman who has used her own education, talents and opportunities to live out Gospel values and provide a practical example of implementing the best of Catholic social teaching.