Sister Rosemary Bertels, OSB, of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica recently shared her story with SOAR!
The Sisters’ prayer life drew me to the monastery. My Aunt Kate always sat down every afternoon to say her rosary novena. This always impressed me and so I started collecting small novena booklets that I would receive in the mail. Each day I said these prayers at a regular time. When I heard the Sisters at the monastery chanting their prayers at certain times, I knew it was where I wanted to be.
I entered after high school graduation on June 13, 1951, so I have been here a little over 69 years. I taught 7th and 8th grade math and religion for 24 years. I love teaching and loved the students.
One of my greatest challenges was giving up teaching to come back to the monastery and be in charge of our housekeeping department. People thought I was lowering myself to take on such a mundane task, so I felt I needed to show others that this job was just as important as teaching. I dressed in neat, matching pantsuits, I tried to portray a happy countenance, and I tried my best to keep places clean. It wasn’t long before Sisters started noticing things I was doing and the talk of lowering myself was not heard anymore. They thanked me for the good work and I felt that by my work others could see that all work has dignity. I also worked with employees and saw that as an important part of my ministry in affirming and respecting them. Together we made everything nice and clean.
When I retired from my work at our Conference Center I realized that I had to find my own job. One Sister told me about a job open in the business office at Benedictine College in Atchison. I applied for it and started working the next day. I was in charge of student accounts. I tried to help students with their loans and also to come in the office to sign their work-study checks. This would save them from adding an interest charge to their bill. I felt that each student was Christ in person and tried to treat them as such. Sometimes that was a little challenging, for not all students wanted my help. This was what I found my favorite part of the job, however, for I had to find ways of winning over this student.
Since I have retired, I have spent hours attending our Sisters during their dying hours. This is a ministry of presence and prayer. I can be a source of support and encouragement to my sisters on their final journey to God and bring them some sense of peace and hope.
It is my hope that all people would know and believe that God loves them deeply and that He is always there to help us.