Local News

Five Benedictine sisters celebrate jubilee anniversaries in private ceremony

By Katrina Genereux/Staff Writer, OND

Crookston, Minn. – On July 26, five sisters of Mount Saint Benedict were honored during a private ceremony held in the Mount Saint Benedict Chapel.

Sister Dolores Norman and Sister Paschal Martin celebrated 70 years of monastic profession, and Sister Anne Marie Geray, Sister Dianne M. Maresh and Sister Rachel Beitz celebrated 60 years.

Sister Paschal Martin was born June 24, 1923, in Oslo, Minn. She was the youngest of 14 children born to John and Laura Martin. She attended St. Catherine University and earned a bachelor of science in elementary education. She also studied religious education, theology and scripture at Mount Angel School of Theology.

Sister Paschal entered Mount St. Benedict in 1945 and made her first vows July 17, 1947. She ministered in Thief River Falls, Moorhead, Roseau, Mahtomedi, East Grand Forks and Benson. She served as the director of religious education at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Seattle, Wa. She was also the director of the Matthew House in Monroe, Wa., a house of hospitality for families of inmates in state prison.

A few years ago, Sister Paschal wrote the following about her life as a Benedictine Sister: “Being able to participate in the Divine Office has meant the most to me. I liked the service I did for the community: teaching in the elementary grades, doing prison ministry, doing catechetical work with the migrants and teaching summer vacation school.”

Sister Dolores Norman was born March 1, 1926, in East Grand Forks. She was the youngest of 10 children born to Neil and Mary Agnes Norman. She studied history at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn; St. Catherine University and the College of St. Teresa in Winona, Minn. She also received a master’s degree in history from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and a doctorate in history from St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo., in 1967.

Sister Dolores entered Mount St. Benedict in 1945 and made her first profession of vows March 21, 1947. She ministered at elementary schools in the diocese, and taught history at Mount Saint Benedict Academy.

“My professional life, whether it be living out the vows professed, or whether it be academic has been based on the belief, love, understanding and support of the Benedictine community in Crookston. My close association with the Sisters of Saint Benedict launched me into a life-long love of learning,” she said.

Sister Rachel Beitz was born Feb. 13, 1938, near Hillsboro, N.D. She is the third of four children born to Lawrence and Loretta Beitz. She attended Mount Saint Benedict Academy for high school and then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in history from the College of St. Teresa. She also studied theology and pastoral studies at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn.

Sister Rachel entered the Benedictine community in 1956 and made her first profession of vows on July 11, 1957. She was an elementary teacher at St. Francis de Sales, Moorhead; St. Philip’s School, Bemidji; Cathedral, Crookston; St. Bernard’s School, Thief River Falls; Sacred Heart School, East Grand Forks; and Holy Rosary School, Detroit Lakes. She was a counselor and care giver at a daycare center in New Orleans. She also worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Hillcrest Nursing Home in Red Lake Falls and completed a residency program in clinical pastoral education at Trinity Medical Center in Minot, N.D. She served as the chaplain and pastoral care director at Villa St. Vincent Nursing Home and the Summit in Crookston.

“My 60 years of life as a Benedictine and my ministries have been filled with many gifts and blessings,” Sister Rachel said. “I have come to realize more and more the beauty, the wonder, the frailty and the gift of our lives.”

Sister Anne Marie Geray was born Aug. 10, 1928, in Beaulieu, Minn. She is the second oldest of six children born to Alphonse and Anne Geray. Sister Anne Marie earned a bachelor of science in home economics from the College of St. Benedict. She also received a master’s degree from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.

Sister Anne Marie entered Mount Saint Benedict in 1955 and made her first profession of vows on July 11, 1960. As a Benedictine Sister, she taught at Mount Saint Benedict High School, and in Lefor, N.D. She was also a counselor at Mount Saint Benedict High School, and directed the Mount Saint Benedict Center for many years. Sister Anne Marie was the religious education coordinator at St. Joseph, Moorhead; St. Joseph, Red Lake Falls, and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

“I enjoyed the work at Mount Saint Benedict Center tremendously. I felt great confidence, could be creative, continue the ministry program and initiate new programs. Being a member of the Sisters of Saint Benedict feels comfortable,” said Sister Anne Marie.

Sister Dianne M. Maresh was born Jan. 23, 1939, in Grafton, N.D. She is the oldest of three children born to Alex and Mary Maresh. She graduated from Mount Saint Benedict Academy in Crookston, and studied at Corbet College, St Teresa’s College and Viterbo College in La Crosse, Wis. She attended graduate studies at the University of Minnesota and University of Texas Pan American.

She entered the community in 1956 and made her first profession of vows the following year. As a Benedictine, Sister Dianne served in schools throughout the Diocese of Crookston, including: St. Michael, Mahnomen; St. Joseph, Moorhead; St. Francis de Sales, Moorhead; St. Bernard, Thief River Falls; Assumption, Barnesville; and Sacred Heart, East Grand Forks. She also taught at a handful of schools in Texas and taught English as a Second Language in Tanzania.

“Being a Sister of Saint Benedict meant to me to attempt to do God’s will in all things and to be part of the prayer life of the Mount Saint Benedict Monastery,” said Sister Dianne. “I believe wherever you are stationed and whatever ministry you are called to do in serving the needs of God’s people in the area in which you live gives glory to God and helps fulfill Jesus’ command to love everyone.”

To learn more about the Sisters of Mount Saint Benedict, visit www.msb.net.

Benedictine Sister Denise Schonhardt contributed to this article.