Archived Obituaries

Sister Lucille Schafer (88) died at Villa Saint Vincent, Crookston, on January 17, 2019.

Lucille Schafer, daughter of Rose (Kuld) Schafer and George Schafer came into this world on December 20, 1930. She was the third of four children, two brothers: Raymond and John and a sister, Sister Yvonne. Sister Lucille said that one of the things she was most grateful for was the Catholic faith passed on to her by her parents.

Lucille started her education in the rural public-school district #63. When she was in the sixth grade, she transferred to Saint Joseph’s School in Red Lake Falls. She attended Mount Saint Benedict Academy for high school. She graduated magna cum laude from the College of Saint Benedict in Saint Joseph, MN. Later she received a master’s degree in theological studies from Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN.

Lucille joined the Sisters of Saint Benedict of Crookston on January 2, 1948. She made her temporary monastic profession on July 5, 1949 and her final profession on July 11, 1952.

Sister Lucille taught in elementary schools in Crookston, East Grand Forks, Red Lake Falls, Benson, Mahnomen, and Detroit Lakes. She also taught in a catechetical school in Slayton. She served as principal in Red Lake Falls, Mahnomen and Detroit Lakes. Later she served as pastoral associate in Red Lake Falls, and as a foster grandparent in Thief River Falls where she also served as a safe environment worker for Saint Bernard Parish.

Sister Lucille was known for her quiet, gentle ways. She declared that even if she had not entered the monastic community, she would have been a teacher.

Sister Lucille wrote, “Throughout the years I sought and found my way of seeking God in living and praying in community with the Sisters of Saint Benedict. I further tried to pursue God’s call through my ministry of working with people and parishes and schools. Years of true fulfillment were found in teaching, administration, serving as pastoral associate and in tutoring students.

‘I served as a parish pastoral minister and as a school tutor in the Foster Grandparent Program. Opportunities to travel to Rome, Medjugorje and Croatia were added occasions for spiritual and cultural enrichment.

‘Now it is with a grateful heart that I glance back over the past years observing all the favors God has extended to me.”

Sister Lucille was preceded in death by her parents and her siblings. She is survived by many nieces and nephews and by the Sisters of Saint Benedict.

Sister Olivia Hermann (91) died at Villa Saint Vincent, Crookston, on September 24, 2018.

Mary Catherine Hermann, the third of the four girls and one boy of Andrew and Delia (Denery) Hermann, was born on February 8, 1927 in Georgetown. Sister Olivia ascribed the awakening of her call to monastic life to the encouragement, prayer-life and truly happy and Christian attitudes of her parents as they nurtured the growth of their children in their rural Georgetown home.

Her earliest contact with sisters was with her aunts, a Sister of Saint Benedict and a Sister of Saint Joseph who frequently visited at their farm home. Sister Olivia wrote about the visits of these sisters, “I don’t know how excited they were about tramping through our barn or chicken coop, but they made it look as though it was one of the highlights of their visit. These two sisters also joined in games and were just fun to have around.”

During her early school years two sisters from the Mount came each June and taught catechism. She loved this time with the sisters and always wished they could have stayed longer.

Mary Catherine attended elementary school in Georgetown and high school at Mount Saint Benedict, Crookston, MN. From her earliest days her only thoughts about vocation were to become a sister. Only in later years did she realize the influence that the faith of her parents and their love for each other and their children had on this decision.

Sister Olivia related memories about her family. “Since we lived in the country we had no close neighbors to play with. During summer Sundays Mom and Dad often took a nap after our noon meal. During our early years we five children, each a year apart in age, were expected to be relatively quiet. If we met this request Mom and Dad would then join us in a game of softball, anti-over, or horse shoes.”

In this devout Catholic family, the ritual for many Sunday evenings was listening to the Catholic Hour at 5:00 p.m., chores at 5:30, supper, and then 7:00 Benediction at church. Then the family often drove around to look at the crops and later enjoyed a treat of ice cream.

Mary Catherine joined the Benedictine community in 1944 and received the name Sister Olivia. She made her permanent monastic profession in 1948. Her sister Agnes had entered the community in 1941 and received the name Sister Petronilla. A younger sister, Angela, entered the community in 1946 and received the name Sister Agatha.

Sister Olivia studied at Diocesan Teachers’ College in Saint Paul, MN and later received a Bachelor of Music Degree from Alverno College in Milwaukee.

After teaching elementary grades for a few years, she taught private piano lessons. Sister Olivia taught piano lessons for over fifty years at parishes in Red Lake Falls, Moorhead, Osseo, Crookston and Barnesville. She also served as liturgist in Saint Francis parish, Moorhead, for several years. She directed adult and youth choirs in a few parishes and also served as organist. Sister Olivia was the district chairperson for the MN Music Teachers’ Association for ten years.

In Moorhead she participated in the Befriender ministry, visited homes of parishioners on a volunteer basis, and assisted with liturgies at Eventide Home.

After returning home to Mount Saint Benedict, Sister Olivia assisted in tasks around the monastery as she was able. Her health began to deteriorate, and she moved to Villa Saint Vincent.

Sister Olivia was preceded in death by her parents Andrew and Delia, her brother Andrew and her sister Helen (Jack) Lutgens. She is survived by her sisters, Sister Petronilla and Sister Agatha, many nieces and nephews and the Sisters of Saint Benedict.

Sister Mary Daniel Neumann (87), died Saturday, May 12, 2018 at Villa Saint Vincent in Crookston, MN.

Mary Catherine Neumann was born on September 12, 1930 in Bemidji, MN> She was the ninth of Ernest and Bernadette (Belaire) Neumann’s eleven children. Mary Catherine was baptized by Father Keogh Patnode. When she was of school age, she attended Saint Philip’s Parish School. Sister Mary Daniel had fond memories of her childhood, especially of her Sister Helen, who was twelve years older than she and of Agnes (Peachy) who was younger. Sister Mary Daniel wrote that she took full advantage of Helen’s love for her. One of her fondest memories of Helen was of her way of making a tea party just for the two of them. Her mother would use the tiny toy muffin pan from Mary Catherine’s toy dishes to make small puffs of bread. Helen used these and the toy dishes to make a tea party just for the two of them.

When Mary Catherine was five years old, her sister Agnes (known as Peachy) was born. Mary Catherine had the privilege of holding Peachy in her arms while sitting in a rocking chair. Soon Peachy tagged along with her everywhere.

Between her junior and senior years, Helen obtained a job for her at the Golden Rule Department Store. After graduating from Bemidji High School in1948, Mary Catherine went to live with Helen in Saint Paul. She obtained a job at the Department of Education which she held from January to September, 1949. They lived on Summit Ave., just two blocks down from the Cathedral where they went to Mass. The Benedictine Sisters from Crookston also had a house of studies on Summit Ave. and Mary Catherine was able to visit some of them whom she had as teachers in Bemidji. Some of the sisters encouraged her to consider a vocation as a Benedictine sister. It was what Mary Catherine knew she wanted also. Her mother knew of her yearning and encouraged her to follow her heart’s desire.

The date set for entering the Benedictine sisters as a postulant was September 15, 1949. Saying good-bye to her mother and Peachy was difficult, and Mary Catherine was teary-eyed all the way to Crookston. Her father and her brother Eddie, drove her to the Mount and they were brought to the guest dining room and were served lunch. After they left, she was dressed on the black dress of postulants, and that evening at supper she received the black postulant veil and became a postulant. She was invested in the Benedictine habit and received the name Sister Mary Daniel when she entered the novitiate in April, 1950.

In monastic communities, the novitiate is a year of study Benedictine life and of challenges so that the novice is able to make a free choice before making monastic profession. Sister Mary Daniel related that she made a happy, free choice to request first (1950) and final monastic profession in 1954.

After leaving the novitiate, Sister Mary Daniel served in the office area of Saint Francis Hospital in Crookston where she remained through the first half of 1954.

In August, 1954, after making final profession, she was assigned to teach at Cathedral School in Crookston for one year, and then to teach sixth grade at Assumption School in Barnesville. From 1957 to 1963, she was the principal at the school as well as the superior in the convent. In the summer of 1963, she returned to the College of Saint Catherine to complete a degree in business education. Her preference would have been to each business education, but she was assigned to the Mount business office where she worked under the mentorship of Sister Carol Jean Schroeder.

Sister Mary Daniel was then sent to Saint Louis University where she earned a master’s degree in hospital administration, after which she returned to the Mount Business office but this time as the Treasurer of the monastic community while serving on the boards of all four hospitals staffed by the sisters.

On July 1, 1983, she became director of Health Services a Mount Saint Benedict Monastery. For the next twenty years she saw to the good care of the sick, the aging and the frail members of the community. In 2003, Good Shepherd Hall as the infirmary was known was closed and made into an Assisted Living facility under the management of Villa Saint Vincent. From the time of the “retirement” on July 1, 2003 to August 1, 2005, she served the community by keeping the health care inventory records, attending all the care plan meetings at the Villa for the sisters in residence there, maintaining health care records for all the sisters, serving as a sister-companion for one of the sisters who was a nursing facility in Fertile, assisting in the Mount Archives and organizing and overseeing the printing of 9,000 copies of the Crookston Benedictine publication three times a year.

In May, 2005, she was asked by newly-elected prioress, Sister Lenore Paschke to become her secretary in addition to representing the prioress in the care-plan meetings for the sisters living at the Villa. She also worked in coordinating the care of the sisters at the Villa and those who lived in Good Shepherd Hall at the Mount. In April, 2013, she retired from her position as secretary to the prioress.

Sister Mary Daniel spent the ensuing years caring for her health and strengthening her attention to living monastic life.

Sister Mary Daniel wrote that she was at her best when “I can serve community members rather than in outreach positions. Living directly under this roof and hearing Saint Benedict say to me from time to time LISTEN! has given a monastic rhythm of work and prayer to my life. . . . I am grateful that Benedict’s invitation has brought my spiritual life to a point of listening through lectio divina, Benedict’s way of praying scripture.”

Sister Yvonne Schafer, 84, died Sunday, January 21, 2018 at Villa Saint Vincent in Crookston, MN.

Sister Yvonne was born January 27, 1933 in Red Lake Falls, MN, to George and Rose (Kuld) Schafer, the youngest of four children. She was baptized by Father Henry Pelger and was given the name Doris Mae. For her elementary education, she attended District 63 country school, located on a corner of their farm. When she was in the fourth grade, her family moved to a different farm and she and her siblings could attend Saint Joseph’s School in Red Lake Falls. She attended Mount Saint Benedict Academy for high school. She was involved in Catholic education since fourth grade, first as a student and then as a teacher.

Sister Yvonne first thought about being a sister while in grade school because she admired the sisters who taught her. She said that she was inspired also by her aunt, Sister Ivan from Saint Benedict’s Monastery in Saint Joseph, MN. After graduation from high school, she entered Mount Saint Benedict Monastery. Before she entered the monastery, she recalled Sister Pancratius Thomas affirming her vocation when she said “You have chosen wisely.” She was invested in the Benedictine habit on July 2, 1950 when she received the name, Sister Yvonne. Sister Yvonne made her final monastic profession on July 11, 1954.

Sister Yvonne received her bachelor’s degree from Saint Catherine’s University and her master’s degree from the University of North Dakota in Elementary Counseling and Guidance. She also attended Saint John’s University and received a Certificate in Monastic Studies.

Sister Yvonne was a teacher for more than 50 years, and she served in Lefor, ND, and Osseo, Detroit Lakes, Mahnomen and Moorhead, MN. She was the principal in Moorhead and Mahnomen where she was also Director of Religious Education. Sister Yvonne wrote that that she was convinced that “the ministry of education is rooted in the Gospel – learning and sharing (that) the Good News is Jesus.”

Sister Yvonne possessed qualities that promoted a happy and healthy school environment: a generous and wholehearted spirit, an innate respect for each student and faculty member and a listening heart. Sister Yvonne was a nature lover, and she enjoyed outdoor activities, picking blueberries, gathering colored or enjoying the Christmas lighting around town.

On one of the trips to pick wild blueberries , Sister Yvonne became separated from the rest of the group, and when it came time to go home she was nowhere to be found. The county sheriff was contacted to help with the search, and eventually a helicopter was called in. After a couple hours, Sister Yvonne was found to the great relief of not only Sister Yvonne but also the rest of the group.

Sister Yvonne loved to see the Christmas lights around town. When it came time to choose the Christmas tree, the sisters with whom she lived wondered how it was that she always chose the coldest day of the year!

And then there was the annual school marathon. Most of the participants were bikers, but not Sister Yvonne! She was one of the hardy walkers who made the eight-mile trek – no shortcuts, no rides for her!

Sister Yvonne was preceded in death by her parents and brothers John and Ray and his wife Marie

She is survived by her sister, Sister Lucille, OSB, sister-in-law Mary Ann, many nieces and nephews and the Sisters of Saint Benedict.

Sister Dolores Norman died Monday, January 22, 2018 at Villa Saint Vincent in Crookston, MN.

Dolores Norman, the daughter of Neil and Mary Agnes (Langdon) Norman, was born March 1, 1926, in East Grand Forks. She graduated from Grand Forks Central High School in 1944. She attended the College of Saint Benedict in Saint Joseph for her freshman year. “This first year in residence at Saint Benedict’s,” she said, “was an unforgettable experience. The liberal arts framework in that freshman year fostered a love for learning that still impacts my life on a daily basis.”

She then entered Mount Saint Benedict Monastery and was given the name Sister Paul when she became a novice. (She later went back to her baptismal name.) Sister Dolores made her first monastic profession on March 16, 1947, and her final profession in 1950.

Teacher preparation began in 1948 when she attended the Saint Paul Archdiocesan Teachers’ College. This was followed by teaching assignments in Rosen, Osseo, and Crookston.

Her formal education continued at the College of Saint Teresa in Winona, Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and Saint Louis University, MO. She majored in history and political science, and received BA, MA, and Ph.D. degrees.

While teaching history and French at Mount Saint Benedict Academy, Sister Dolores was selected as a team member of Project Bridge, a program funded by the Ford Foundation and designed to improve race relations in Cleveland, OH. Sister Dolores was part of a team teaching an Urban History course at Saint John’s College.

Sister Dolores was involved in the Neighborhood Project, a Saint Louis University Literacy Program. Later she taught reading to adults in the Indian Studies Program, and Ojibway history to American Indian inmates at the Saint Cloud State Reformatory. This included advocacy letter writing in support of women and children and led to a position as Professor of History at Bemidji State University.

During her professional life Sister Dolores was involved in various organizations and received many awards and grants. Among them was the opportunity to study at the University of Paris in France under a Fulbright Scholarship award. She was listed in the Directory of American Scholars and was honored with a faculty award as Teacher of the Year. She received annual recognition by the Indian Studies Department at Bemidji State University. An award dear to her heart was the 1997 Bucky Award designating her as fan of the year in support of the Bemidji State University’s Men’s Hockey team. In October, 2009, the Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund honored her as an Outstanding Community Builder.

Sister Dolores taught twenty-five years of Bemidji State University and retired in 1993 as Professor of History with emerita status. Sister Dolores had a life-long love of learning and found her many travels to Europe and Canada life-expanding. She especially enjoyed her visits to national libraries in the United States, Canada, France and England.

After her retirement, for ten years she was a teacher helper at Sunrise Center for Families and Children in Crookston.

In her words, “I spent all of my life teaching and it has been a memorable experience for me to have taught at all levels: elementary, high school, university and adult education.” In respect to the past sixty years, Sister Dolores said, “Moves in one’s life are a road map. In my experience happenings were good ones. . . . There have been few unexpected turns and a constancy of beliefs, few defeats, no intense sufferings, and no big changes except societal or ecclesiastical ones. The progression from convent to convent or from university dorm to university dorm has caused me to take stock. Many times, I’ve had to decide what to leave and what to take during the search for the sacred.” She continued, “The strength and support of the community have meant the most to me.”

Sister Dolores is preceded in death by her parents Cornelius and Mary Agnes Norman, brothers: Paul, Gene, Louis and James and sisters: Catherine, Virginia, Madonna, Joan and Helen.

Sister Dolores is survived by many nieces and nephews and the Sisters of Saint Benedict.

Sister Michelle McGurran, 87, died Thursday, December 7, 2017 at Villa Saint Vincent, Crookston. Sister Michelle was born August 6, 1930 in Grand Forks, ND, and was given the name Grace Colleen. Grace, called Colleen, was the second of the fourteen children of William and Grace (Brown) McGurran. Colleen attended Saint Michael’s Grade School and Saint James High School in Grand Forks, ND, where she was taught by Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet She graduated from high school in Cavalier, ND.

Saint Michael’s Church played a large role in her Irish family: school, first communion, confirmation and other church activities. One of her favorite memories of school was her first grade teacher, whom she described as “very, very old and very kind. She recalled that in school dramatizations, she always had the role of “Sister” – if there was one. She remembered being charmed by her first communion prayer book and trying to follow the prayers. In the eighth grade Colleen was confirmed at Saint Michael’s Church by Cardinal Muench. Colleen attributed the inspiration to follow a religious vocation to her mother’s expressed desire that one of her children would become either a priest or a sister.

The first Benedictine sister Colleen met was Sister Clare Duffy who arranged for her to visit the Mount. Colleen entered the Crookston Benedictine community in 1949. She was invested in the Benedictine habit in 1950 and she received the name, Sister Michelle. She made temporary monastic profession in 1951 and final profession in 1954.

Sister Michelle earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Saint Teresa in Winona, and master’s degrees from the University of North Dakota and Fordham University in New York City.

Sister Michelle taught in parish grade schools in Thief River Falls, Moorhead, Bemidji and Rosen before teaching history, German and social studies while also caring for boarding students at Mount Saint Benedict – which meant being available 24/7. She also taught German and social studies at Sacred Heart High School in East Grand Forks.

Sister Michelle took the opportunities to study or teach in Germany. In 1966, she was one of 50 secondary school teachers who participated in and NDEA Overseas Institute for Advanced Study in Germany. In 1969 – 1970, she studied for two semesters at the University of Würzburg. Then during the 1974 – 1975 school year, she taught English as a second language in Wuppertal, Germany.

In 1993, she was elected prioress of Mount Saint Benedict when she was confronted immediately with the necessity of demolishing the original monastery building because it was sliding toward the river. In 1996, the sisters moved into new construction which contained a library, archives, chapel, offices and living spaces. During her term of office, the sisters conducted a capital campaign with the goal of raising $975,000, which they exceeded by $50,000 through the great generosity of the sisters’ many friends. Another accomplishment during her term was the opening of Sunrise Center for Children and Families under the direction of Sister Judy Moen.

Upon the completion of her term, she lived with the sisters in Mahnomen. Sister Michelle then spent six years as pastoral minister in Lucan. She found these years satisfying because she could use what she had learned at Fordham.

If one were asked to describe Sister Michelle’s personality, one might use such adjectives as committed, energetic or extroverted. Sister Michelle was passionate about many things, especially Benedictine monastic life, the ministry of women in the Church and Catholic social teachings – notably peace and the dignity of the human person. Bishop Kenneth Povish appointed her with others from the diocese to participate in the first Call to Action gathering, which explored the direction the Church would take in the future. Sister Michelle’s passion regarding peace and justice for the poor created a determination to promote public policies which lightened their burden. As a result she was asked by State Senator Roger Moe, majority leader of the Minnesota Senate, to serve as the first woman chaplain of the Senate.

Sister Michelle is preceded in death by her parents William and Grace McGurran and brothers Joseph, Walter, Tim and Patrick. She is survived by sisters Charis Brossart, Marjorie Bergum, Mary Vonasek, Maureen Sylling and Rita Devine, brothers Michael, Dennis, Gerald and David, many nieces and nephews and the members of her monastic community.