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Benedictine Sister Mary Reparata remembered for desire to serve God

Benedictine Sister Mary Reparata remembered for desire to serve God - (15-02-2019)

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Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Mary Reparata Hopp, OSB passed away Feb. 13, 2019.

Louanna Marie Hopp was born to Harry and Agnes Pedersen Hopp on Sept. 17, 1927, in Denver, Colorado. Her mother was from the island of Lolland in Denmark, and her father was from Pennsylvania. She was one of four children, including her brother, Harry, Jr., and two sisters, Alice and Elizabeth. 

The family moved often when Louanna was young, spending time in Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and Oklahoma. While she found that changing schools so often was difficult, she enjoyed learning. She loved to read. She worked at a dance studio in high school to pay for several years of ballet lessons and attended college for a year at Loretto Heights College.

Louanna was not raised in a Catholic family but was drawn to the faith as a teenager.

“Even before entering the Catholic Church, I had a desire to serve God,” she said. “I felt drawn to the Blessed Sacrament, the Real Presence.” She converted to Catholicism in 1943, when she was 16.

Louanna’s conversion led to a religious calling, and she began exploring different contemplative communities. She learned about the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri, and, at the suggestion of her pastor, visited the monastery in the summer of 1946.

“I felt their community was the type of life I would like and be able to live,” she said, “and I liked the secluded life of prayer and work.” She entered that summer.

Louanna made her first monastic profession on Feb. 10, 1948, and was given the name Sister Mary Reparata. She made her final monastic profession five years later on Feb. 10, 1953. 

During her years in community, Sister Mary Reparata lived at the congregation’s monasteries in Clyde, Kansas City, Mo., St. Louis, Mundelein, Illinois, and Tucson, Arizona. She served in the correspondence, vestment and altar bread departments, in the printery, as portress, postulant director, vocation director, Clyde and Tucson subprioress, and on the General Council. She was on the staff of “Spirit & Life” magazine and was responsible for layout and design. This latter position took her to Tucson in 1993 when the congregation’s Publications Center moved to the monastery there. 

“Over the years, I moved according to the needs of others,” she said. “I am most grateful for the love and concern of my Sisters and the health and ability to live and to serve within our communities.”

Sister Mary Reparata had the opportunity to take ballet lessons again briefly in 1970. At least once she shared her talent for ballet in a community production around the time of her 25th Jubilee of monastic profession.

Sometimes an event in life, a seemingly small thing, propels one into an unanticipated interest, which can develop into a personal mission. While on her first visit to her mother’s former home in Denmark in 1978, she came across a roadside marker indicating the birthplace of Kaj Munk. She learned that he was a Lutheran pastor, poet, playwright, preacher and writer. He was a strong critic of Hitler’s persecution of the Jews. He preached and wrote plays that encouraged underground resistance to Hitler after Nazi troops invaded Denmark in 1940. In 1944, Munk was taken from the pastor’s residence and executed, leaving his wife and five small children behind; his body was found by the side of a road. 

Sister Mary Reparata became so interested in Kaj Munk that she learned Danish in order to read and translate his extensive writings. In 1984, she received permission to re-visit Denmark on the 40th anniversary of his execution. She was able to speak with some who knew him and with his widow, who later visited the Benedictine Sisters’ monastery in St. Louis when she visited the United States. Sister Mary Reparata later explained that “I found myself drawn into a close spiritual relationship with this great man.”

While living at the Tucson monastery, she became a member of the Danish Club, serving in several leadership roles. Her study of and involvement in her Danish heritage brought her much joy and was an important part of her life.

“It helped to shape my calling, my mission,” she once said. “In prayer, I have taken the needs, both spiritual and national, of Denmark to God and feel it was a valid mission work.”

Sister Mary Reparata had a dry sense of humor. It seemed to be always present along with a natural shyness and reticence to be the center of attention. She once said that some of the things she enjoyed were “working when not under pressure, seeing a job well done, sitting quietly by myself or with a friend.” She also was a good photographer, doing photography and graphics for the congregational magazine.

Sister Mary Reparata moved from Tucson to Our Lady of Rickenbach Healthcare center in 2013 where her quiet and supportive presence was an asset. She was a proofreader for the magazine until a year before her death.

After some months on hospice, Sister Mary Reparata died quietly as Sisters and staff were praying with her. She is survived by her monastic family; her sister, Alice; and nieces and nephews. Her funeral liturgy and burial are scheduled for Monday, Feb. 18, 2019.