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Benedictine Sister Mary Priscilla was the heart

Benedictine Sister Mary Priscilla was the heart - (26-09-2016)

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Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Mary Priscilla Trost, OSB passed away on Sept. 22, 21016, at 100 years of age.

She was born Emily Mary on Aug. 12, 1916, in Hamilton, Ohio, to George W. Trost and Nellie Mae Martin. Six of her siblings died in infancy or soon after, and three brothers survived: Elmer, Bill and Harry.

The early years were turbulent for the Trost children. Their father was sent to prison for attempted bank robbery, and their mother struggled on her own to make a living for the family. At times, Emily and her two younger brothers lived at the Children’s Home in Cincinnati.

By 1925, their mother found a house, her older brother had a job and the family was reunited and living together in Pittsburgh. However, the reunion did not last long.

“Times were hard, and the weather was cold in Pennsylvania,” Sister Mary Priscilla recalled. “Mother caught frequent colds and developed tuberculosis. We, being so young, could not know the agony she went through taking care of us.”

So at 11 years old, Emily and her younger brothers were once again wards of the state. They stayed in foster care for eight years. When she turned 18, Emily was instructed to leave the foster home and make her own way.

Because of her nontraditional home life, she had fallen behind in her studies and had only finished ninth-grade schoolwork.

“I loved school and so much wanted to finish high school,” she said. Elmer, who had married by this time, invited Emily to live with him and his wife so she could finish out the term. Then she moved to Cincinnati to be closer to her mother, got a job in a cap factory and attended night school.

Emily had been baptized as a Methodist Episcopalian and taught Sunday school for eighth graders at a local Presbyterian church. “It was at that time I felt a desire to deepen my spiritual life,” she said.

She met a Catholic priest whose sincere living and explanation of Catholicism inspired her to study and later convert to Catholicism at the age of 19. A year later she entered the Passionist Nuns near Scranton, Pennsylvania.

However, she became ill and had to leave the convent. She rested and found a job as a housekeeper and nursemaid to a Catholic family. She learned about the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration from the booklet, “Eucharistic Adoration.”

“I felt called to the community because it was dedicated to the adoration of the Holy Eucharist,” she said. “It was the truth of the Real Presence that inspired me to embrace the Catholic faith.”

She wrote to the community for application information and was later granted entrance. With acceptance letter in hand, she was on her way to Clyde. She officially entered the community on Dec. 7, 1941.

“It was Pearl Harbor Day,” she said. “I have been happily wedded to Christ through war and peace, through thick and thin, through love ever since.”

She made her first monastic profession on Sept. 1, 1943, taking the name Mary Priscilla. Her final profession was on Sept. 11, 1948.

Over the years, her brothers came to understand Sister Mary Priscilla’s conversion to Catholicism and call to religious life. One brother was there for her perpetual vows, and both younger brothers shared in her Silver Jubilee celebration. “They were glad I was happy,” she said.

Sister Mary Priscilla lived at the communities in Clyde, St. Louis, Kansas City and Osage Forest of Peace in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Her tasks included working in the the altar bread department, the sacristy and the sewing room.

One of her favorite projects over the years was refinishing the niches in the Relic Chapel.

“It took about six months to finish,” she said. “What an exhilarating joy it was when all 144 niches were back in the Relic Chapel, and the saints’ relics could be venerated again.”

In 1978, she joined Benedictine Sister Pascaline Coff, OSB and a few other Sisters attracted to small group living. In Oklahoma, those founding Sisters wanted to create an atmosphere for contemplative prayer. They found the right property in Sand Springs. After six months of clearing trees and construction, the Sisters moved into Osage+Forest of Peace on the Feast of Corpus Christi in 1980.

“Our goals were to be open to all people, all religions, all faiths, all cultures,” Sister Mary Priscilla said. “We were enriched by the different people who spent time there.” 

The Forest of Peace hosted countless guests for retreats over the 28 years Sister Mary Priscilla lived there. Many guests remarked that she was the heart of the place with her loving attentiveness, interest in people and her humor.

She was a member of the Osage community until its closure in 2008. One of her favorite memories there was when her community and friends celebrated her 90th birthday with a surprise party. After Osage’s closure, she transferred to Our Lady of Rickenbach in Clyde.

“I have not accomplished what I hoped I would accomplish when I was young in spiritual life,” she said. “I was going to be perfect, I was going to love the Lord my God with my whole heart and soul, mind and all my strength. That’s what I went into the convent for, but you don’t have any proof (that you did it.) The only proof I have is that the Lord has left me here with my faith.”

Sister Mary Priscilla is survived by her monastic family. Her funeral liturgy and burial at Mount Calvary Cemetery were on Sept. 26, 2016.