Sister Angelo (Margaret) Haspert opened her eyes to this world in Richardton, N.D., the sixth of what would be 11 children of John and Elizabeth (Renner), German immigrants from Russia. Her father was a teacher, and her mother was a good cook and seamstress; peace-loving people who created that kind of atmosphere in their home. If there was a misunderstanding, they would “talk things over.”
Prayer and music were an essential part of the atmosphere. In addition to prayer together at home, they were devoted to daily Mass, which Margaret came to love. Their father taught them to sing and they enjoyed singing together, a lot.
Angelo spent many summers helping with chores on her aunt and uncle’s farm, leading to one of her earliest memories about a rooster. First, to be awakened by its call when she was out at her grandpa’s farm, then teasing the rooster, poking at it through a fence with a stick, and later, while she was carrying a pail of water, it started to go after her, and she remembers “my pail of water went everywhere!”
She first came to know about Benedictines as a youngster. The sisters from Yankton, S.D., were her teachers in the school she attended in Richardton. She says, “They had their eye on me,” hoping she would join their community.
Apparently, a talk by Father Julius Locnikar, OSB, started her thinking about joining the convent. Loretta (Sister Olivia Forster), her first cousin and close friend, was also interested in religious life and left home to enter Saint Benedict’s. A year later, at age 18, Margaret followed her cousin. She’s grateful to God that Olivia went first and “softened the cushion!” She also said, “Once I got here, I knew I found my place.” She appreciated the “genuineness” of the sisters; “the joy they gave to God.” There were some “strict rules,” but her love of the liturgy far surpassed any concern she had about the rules. Letters from her parents, especially inspiring ones from her father, were another source of stability. Sister Henrita was a kind director in the novitiate, and soon, with a “wonderful group of 26,” she professed first vows 75 years ago.
With the exception of nine years as director of novices, her ministry was in teaching. At first, she taught Latin and ancient history at Cathedral High School, but her main interest was in theology, which she taught at CSB for 27 years. She says she loved it and enjoyed teaching classes with both male and female students, and she would often invite them to stay and talk a bit after class. She said there are two things she wanted to convey to her students: “There is a God; God is in control.” As human beings, we need to “roll with the punches.”
Other experiences she had include a year at Nassau, Bahamas, teaching in an extension program for lay people, which she enjoyed; attending the University of California, Berkley, in Berkeley, Calif., receiving a terminal degree; and a three-week trip to Jerusalem.
As she said, “I’ve always liked to go out, explore and do things!” For fun, she enjoys games, baseball, especially basketball, playing cards and Scrabble.
In conclusion, she says: “I have much to be grateful for!”
Profile written by Ruth Boedigheimer, OSB