October 17, 1915 — June 8, 2009 Sister Firmin (Fern) was born on October 17, 1915, to Anthony and Albina (Yansky) Escher in Dumont, Minn. She entered Saint Benedict’s Monastery in August 1933, made first monastic profession on July 11, 1935 and perpetual monastic profession on July 11, 1938. She celebrated her golden jubilee in 1985 and her sixtieth anniversary in 1995.
S. Firmin attended St. Peter’s Grade School in Dumont and Saint Benedict’s High School in St. Joseph, Minn. She received a bachelor of music degree in violin from the MacPhail School of Music in 1940 and a master of music degree in violin from the Chicago Musical College in 1953. Additional study was done at the College of Saint Benedict; Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, Wis.; Iowa State University; University of Michigan; and University of Chicago.
In 1935, S. Firmin entered a lifetime ministry in music at St. Patrick’s High School in Eau Claire, Wis., as organist, director of orchestra, and instructor in instruments. In 1940, her long association with the College of Saint Benedict began. She taught violin and other music-related courses, conducted an orchestra, founded the Campus Singers, produced operas and was department chairperson. From 1961–1972 she served as academic dean. She was director of the college Planning Program and Dean of Fine Arts. Then followed ten years as coordinator of planning and research for Saint Benedict’s Monastery. Though S. Firmin retired to Saint Scholastica Convent in 1990, she played the violin for special occasions and continued her monastic life of prayer.
S. Firmin is survived by her Benedictine community, one brother (Merle), one sister (Alice Kane), nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by an infant brother (Clarence) and a sister (Wilma Escher, OSB).