Sisters’ Words of Wisdom: Sister Catherine Schoenecker, OSB

Sisters' Words of Wisdom: Sister Catherine Schoenecker, OSB

A graduate in New Prague High School, this is LaVerne (Catherine) Schoenecker in 1947.

It’s 8:30 pm on a Tuesday evening at St. Paul’s Monastery. Sister Catherine Schoenecker is making her rounds of the common areas with her holy water. Similar to every other night at the Monastery, she “blesses the house,” including the offices, the meeting rooms, and all the other places people gather during the day. She loves her quiet little walks around the Monastery.

Sister Catherine's family home in New Prague stayed in the family for six decades.

At 91 years old, Sister Catherine is one of the oldest sisters at St. Paul’s Monastery. This does not stop her from being very active inside and outside of the Monastery. She admits that she is “blessed with very good health” and that keeping moving is very important to her. She visits her three sisters at least once a month, traveling to Minneapolis, Apple Valley, and Jordan, MN. Her three sisters – Roselyn, Annella, and Mary Carole – are all very close. Catherine admits that not seeing them during the Coronavirus stay-at-home order was hard. Now, she encourages everyone to find a way to connect with others and find joy in new routines.

This picture is grainy but it shows Sister Catherine in front of the original Summit Avenue priory in 1951 as part of her novice ceremony.

Sister Catherine was born and raised in New Prague, MN. She is the middle child of five children. In addition to her sisters, Sister Catherine had an older brother, Clayton, who died several years ago. Her parents, Henry and Hildegard, named her LaVerne at birth. She was baptized Catherine and later took Catherine as her religious name. She remembers fondly the house she grew up in as a place that everyone loved to go to hear music. Her parents played the piano and the violin, and they all loved to sing together.

Also in 1951, Sister Catherine is seen here with her father, Henry, and her mother, Hildegard.

Sister Catherine recites Psalm 100 as her favorite as it reminds her of the good music unto the Lord that her family expressed together. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations” (NRSVCE).

Seen here together at Roselyn's 92nd birthday are (back row) Sister Catherine, Annella, Mary Carole, and (seated) Roselyn.

Catherine has been steadfast throughout the decades with her devotion to teaching. She spent many years as a teacher, a principal, and a supervisor of schools at Hill-Murray School. She adds, “I always wanted to be a teacher.” She even traveled to Mississippi one summer and spent a month teaching during a time when “integration” was hotly debated. She remembers this as her most memorable teaching experience.

After retiring from teaching, Sister Catherine has also been sub-prioress twice at St. Paul’s Monastery. She also spent some time as the supervisor for the reception desk and for health care. Now, she supervises housekeeping. Thanks Sister Catherine for all your service throughout the years!