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Sister Mary Edward remembered for simple joys and love of the Eucharist

Sister Mary Edward remembered for simple joys and love of the Eucharist - (17-05-2018)

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Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Mary Edward Hartmann, OSB passed away May 13, 2018.

She was born Catherine Lydia Hartmann on June 4, 1926, in New Holstein, Wisconsin, to Edward and Elizabeth Dorn Hartmann. She was the fifth of 13 children and all attended St. Ann Parochial School. She completed the eighth grade then helped at home with housework and her younger siblings.

Catherine was a shy child but a happy one. Two older sisters were called to religious life, and when Catherine reached the sixth grade she knew God was calling her as well.

“I had the desire then to become a sister but didn’t come to a decision about which order to enter until I was 17 years old,” she once said. After she received literature from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri, she knew it was the place for her.

So a few days after her 18th birthday, she packed up and moved several states away to enter religious life in a convent - a tremendous feat for a shy girl who was so close to her family.

“My family was very dear to me, and my father was ill,” she said. “I was only able to leave after much prayer and hope that my father’s health would improve.”

She entered the Benedictine Sisters in 1944 and continued to receive kind letters from her family. However, her father’s health continued to fail, and he passed away when she was a novice. When her first monastic profession drew near, she was asked if she’d like to take her father’s name.

“I heartily agreed,” she said, “ because it was a nice name to bear.”

She became Sister Mary Edward on Sept. 7, 1946, and later made her final profession on Sept. 15, 1951.

During her years as a Benedictine Sister in Clyde, her work included jobs in the kitchen, the printery, the sewing room and the orchard. She also spent time raising chickens, a job that had a rocky start due to what she laughingly called “chicken shyness.”

“As time progressed, the chickens and I became friends,” she said. “We spoke to one another as you would to a flower if you wished it to mature properly.”

She transferred to the monastery in Mundelein, Illinois, in 1953 where she said she had 15 wonderful years and learned the altar bread work. She returned to Clyde in 1968. She had the opportunity in 1970 to take part in the G.E.D program held at Conception Abbey and received her Certificate of High School Equivalence in March of 1971. She considered this as part of her Silver Jubilee Gift of Religious Profession which she celebrated on Sept. 7, 1971.

A job she had in her later years was taking care of the guest house and also taking care of flowers around the convent. She was especially fond of roses and generously gave away iris bulbs to employees and guests as they might desire. Sister Mary Edward loved to do cross stitch, and a cross she had to bear as she aged was failing eyesight. 

One of her greatest joys was making Easter eggs for the community each year. Before she transferred to Our Lady of Rickenbach, the congregation’s healthcare facility in 2011, she was tasked with preparing the community’s eggs for decoration. Armed with 14 dozen eggs purchased from a neighbor who raised chickens, she went to work in the monastery's large kitchen beginning at 4 a.m. on Holy Saturday morning. She learned the tricks of the trade from deceased Sister Mary Estell Schaffer, who had left her with instructions written in large, black script so she could easily read them.  

“Many mishaps can occur when you're boiling a lot of eggs. I've noticed when I say a prayer, things always go well,” she said, “Plus, a blessed egg always tastes better.”

Sister Mary Edward also enjoyed playing games, listening to music, reading and tending the gardens. Nothing, though, transcended her love of Christ in the Eucharist.

“It is my hope and prayer that the hours which I have spent in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, as well as my sacrifices and good works, have all helped to atone for sinners and for my own sins as well so we can enjoy heaven for all eternity together,” she wrote in her autobiography.

She is survived by her monastic family; two sisters, Sister Therese Hartmann, OLC and Ann Gervase Meyers; two brothers, Hugo Hartmann and Al Hartmann; and several nieces and nephews. Her funeral liturgy and burial at the Benedictine Sisters’ Adoration Chapel and Mount Calvary Cemetery were held May 16, 2018, in Clyde.