Benedictine era in Luxemburg ending after 132 years

Categories: Around the Diocese

June 7, 2013, edition
By Rita Meyer
For The Visitor

For 132 consecutive years the classrooms at St. Wendelin School in Luxemburg have been blessed with the presence of Benedictine Sisters. Sadly, the end of this school year brought with it the end of an era.

Sister Marius Hiltner helps sixth grader Amanda Molitor with her math studies at St. Wendelin's Catholic School in Luxemburg. Photo by Paul MiddlestaedtSister Marius Hiltner, part-time teacher and helper, retired after 40 years of serving in Luxemburg, as did her housemate of 39 years, Sister Theodora Nelson.

“It’ll be an adjustment,” said Lynn Rasmussen, who has been principal of St. Wendelin School since 1990. “It just won’t be the same.

“Sister Marius is so humble she doesn’t realize how much good she’s done here. She’s been my mentor for years.”

Besides serving as the school’s principal for 11 years, Sister Marius taught full time until several years ago when she began part-time teaching of three classes of math, social studies and religion.

She’s an accomplished pianist and played the organ for children’s Mass during the week as well on Sundays for parish liturgies. Two of her large projects each year were the all-school Christmas program, which the students also performed for the retired Benedictine Sisters at St. Scholastica in St. Cloud, as well as the Passion Play.

Talented cook, quilter

Sister Theodora, age 92, was the cook and housekeeper at the convent in Luxemburg. When she first started there were five sisters who taught kindergarten through sixth grade, along with three lay teachers.

For the past 39 years Sister Theodora Nelson has been the convent homemaker and cook in Luxemburg. Photo by Paul MiddlestaedtBesides preparing all the meals at the convent, Sister Theodora cooked for Father Leon Slominski and his mother for four years, served lunch to the school children and read books to younger students.

She is also an avid quilter; many of her quilts have been used as fundraiser items for St. Benedict’s Monastery.

“I’d never quilted before in my life,”  Sister Theodora recalled. “One day the church ladies asked me to join them,” and over the past 40 years she has sewn more than 100 pieced quilts.

Unfortunately, Sister Theodora took a fall in February. She has been recovering and receiving physical therapy for her broken wrist at St. Scholastica. That meant Sister Marius had to fend for herself in the cooking department. “I can do it, it just takes time.” She misses her friend’s homemade bread and chop suey the most.

Sister Marius, who celebrated her 60-year jubilee this past April, visited Sister Theodora at St. Scholastica as often as possible. When asked why she’ll retire to St. Scholastica, the Benedictine retirement center, as opposed to living at the monastery in St. Joseph, Sister Marius commented, “I can be of the most help there. They have lots of needs.”

That will allow the two sisters to be together again. They are already planning a trip back to Luxemburg for the church bazaar the last Sunday of July. “We’ve got to play bingo and take a chance on the cake walk,” they both chimed in.

A celebration of 132 years of continuous Benedictine service will take place June 26 following the 6:30 p.m. Mass at St. Wendelin Church in Luxemburg. The public is invited.