April 6, 1917 – April 1, 2017
The Eucharist of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, at the Sacred Heart Chapel, Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, for Sister Mary George (Hedwig) Ortmann who died, age 99, on April 1 at Saint Scholastica Convent, St. Cloud, Minn. Burial will be in the monastery cemetery. Friends may call for a Vigil Prayer Service on Monday, April 3, at 7 p.m., at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. Visitation continues at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 4, until the time of the funeral.
Hedwig Ortmann was born April 6, 1917, to George and Mary (Winkler) Ortmann in Buckman, Minn. She attended grade school at Districts #147 and #99, as well as St. Michael’s in Buckman. Her high school education and graduation took place at Saint Benedict’s High School in St. Joseph, Minn. Hedwig entered Saint Benedict’s Monastery on August 27, 1933, was received into the novitiate June 16, 1936, when she received the name Mary George, made her first monastic profession on July 11, 1937, and perpetual monastic profession on July 11, 1940. S. Mary George graduated from the College of Saint Benedict with a B.A. in community education. She also attended the Diocesan Teachers’ College in St. Paul, Minn., St. Cloud State University, Brainerd State Junior College, Brainerd, Minn., and Bemidji State College, Bemidji, Minn.
Elementary education was S. Mary George’s first ministry. She served as a teacher at Freeport, Minn., and Perham, Minn. In 1952, she started the ministry closest to her heart when she began serving Native American people. For five years (1952-57), she was stationed in Onamia, Minn., and assisted at Little Flower Mission, Vineland, Minn., on the Mille Lacs Reservation. In 1957, she moved to the Little Flower Mission. There she served in many roles, including: lead teacher in Head Start; materials specialist for the Head Start program in Minnesota and Wisconsin; Title 1 teacher at the Community Center and in the Green Thumb program; religious educator; coordinator of receiving and distributing clothes and food to those in need; and as pastoral assistant.
In 2001, at the age of 85, S. Mary George moved to Saint Scholastica Convent. Her love for the Native American people, especially children, did not diminish and she remained connected with them through a special ministry of prayer for the Ojibwe people of Minnesota.
S. Mary George is survived by the sisters of her Benedictine community, and by her brother Leonard and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by four brothers: Joseph, George, Ernest and Paul, and by two sisters: Rose Ellis and Matilda Lease.
Please direct memorial gifts to the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict Retirement Fund.