Mother Louise Walz

Mother Louise (Theresa) Walz was born in Baden, Germany, on December 19, 1864. At age eight, she came to the United States with her parents. She entered Saint Benedict’s Convent* in St. Joseph, Minn., on October 18, 1884, became a novice on July 11, 1886, and professed her first vows on July 11, 1887, and her perpetual vows on July 11, 1890. She became the novice mistress immediately after her first profession and served in that role until 1892.

Prior to her election as prioress in 1919, M. Louise served the community as a teacher and as subprioress from 1902–1919. During her three terms as the seventh prioress of Saint Benedict’s Convent (1919–1937), she continued the brick-and-mortar expansion policy of her predecessor, Mother Cecilia Kapsner. St. Walburg Hall was built as a sisters’ residence and art needlework department, and the new Scholasticate building was needed to accommodate the large number of candidates seeking entrance into the community. Also, the St. Cloud Hospital was completed in 1928, just before the beginning of the Great Depression. Due to the ensuing hospital debt of $2.5 million, M. Louise had to use all of her resourcefulness to keep the community afloat financially.

Among M. Louise’s many other duties was serving as the president of the College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph. 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 open a mission in China, and in 1930, six sisters left Minnesota to open a women’s college at the Catholic University of Peking, China.

It was said that M. Louise had a motherly heart and prayerful disposition. Under her leadership, the community experienced spiritual renewal, the strengthening of a bond of unity, and reform in liturgical worship. During her time as prioress, 457 new members entered the community—the largest number of entrants during the tenure of any prioress in the history of the community. She died on January 22, 1944.

*Our community was named Saint Benedict’s Convent until 1996 when it was formally changed to Saint Benedict’s Monastery.