Sisters Clarissa Goeckner, Carm Ternes, Evangela Bossert, Janet Marie Barnard and Mary Kay Henry from the Monastery of St. Gertrude traveled to Mt. Angel, OR, for the October 30th celebration of the 125th anniversary of the foundation of Queen of Angels Monastery and Mt. Angel Abbey.
“Our histories are inextricably intertwined,” said Sr. Clarissa Goeckner, Prioress of St. Gertrude’s in Idaho. “Our founding sisters traveled to the United States together from Switzerland in 1882, and we ministered together at Gervais and Grand Ronde, OR, for two years.”
The original immigrant group consisted of 48 Benedictine monks, nuns and students. They came from Engelberg Abbey, Monastery of Maria Rickenbach and St. Andrew’s Convent all in Switzerland. When they arrived in Gervais, OR, housing arrangements had been made for the monks and students, but not the sisters. The women from the two convents found lodging and resided and worked together until the founding sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude left Gervais to found their own convent and school in Uniontown, WA.
“Our time with the Maria Rickenbach sisters came to an end, then,” reminisced Sr. Clarissa, “and we began our journey to founding a motherhouse in Idaho.
“However,” she continued, “we remain close friends with the sisters at Mt. Angel through regular meetings of prioresses, subprioresses, treasurers, vocation directors, retreat directors and more. We also stay in touch with the monks through meetings and contacts with Idaho seminarians studying there. We are grateful for the Mt. Angel monks who served as our chaplains and have been our retreat directors.”
The highlight of the celebration of 125 years of common roots was the special Mass at St. Mary Parish in the town of Mt. Angel. A church full of parishioners joined the two communities in this milestone of their own history. Music was lead by a combined choir of sisters and monks.
Principal Presider, Abbot Primate Notker Wolf from Rome, was joined by Co-presiders Abbot Berchtold Muller from Engelberg and twelve other abbots, priors and bishops. Fr. Boniface Lautz, Prior of the Monastery of the Ascension in Jerome, ID, was among them. James Schaecher, Representative of St. Mary Parish, Prioress Donna Marie Chartraw of Queen of Angels, and Abbot Nathan Zodrow of Mt. Angel Abbey shared reflections on the 125 years of history they share together.