Sister de Montfort Knightley, OSB

August 18, 1926 - March 16, 2013

Sister de Montfort Knightley, OSB, 86, a Benedictine Sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kans., died March 16, 2013, at the monastery after a brief illness. The vigil service will be Tuesday, March 19, at 7 pm in the monastery chapel, and the Mass of Resurrection will be offered there March 20 at 10:30am. 

Sister de Montfort Knightley, OSBSister de Montfort was born to William John, Sr., and Mary Catherine Roach Knightley August 18, 1926, and baptized Frances Irene at Blessed Sacrament parish, Wichita, Kans. She graduated from Blessed Sacrament and from Cathedral High School, Wichita. She earned her B.S. in mathematics with a minor in chemistry from Mount St. Scholastica College in 1948 and entered the Mount community in June 1948. She earned a Master of Science in mathematics from Kansas State University in 1957 and a master's degree from Notre Dame in math and computer science in 1966. 

For 50 years, Sister de Montfort taught mathematics in high schools in Kansas, Missouri, and Colorado, and in several colleges of the area. She also helped to initiate students into the intricacies of computer use and programming. She particularly relished her 16 years at Lillis High School and five years at Notre Dame de Sion, in Kansas City, Mo., and the five summers she taught at Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tenn. She delighted in her computer science students at Mount St. Scholastica Academy, her final assignment. Sister de Montfort was community treasurer, headed the steering committee in the second year of the community senate, and tutored students in math during her retirement. She and her students have an enviable record of awards and recognitions from state and national mathematics organizations and contests.

Sister de Montfort was preceded in death by her parents, her brother William John Knightley, Jr., and sister Teresa Marie Knightley Farrell. She is survived by cousins and her monastic family.

Sister de Montfort's Memorial card

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to your name give glory.”
Psalm 115:1

Sister de Montfort Knightley was the daughter of William John and Mary Catherine Roach Knightley. She was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. After graduating from Cathedral High School, she came to Mount St. Scholastica College, graduating with a B.S. in mathematics and a minor in chemistry in 1948. She entered the Mount community that June and made monastic profession in 1949.  She continued her studies, receiving a master's degree from Kansas State University in mathematics and one from Notre Dame in math/computer science. A brilliant, witty, and compassionate teacher, she encouraged many to achieve excellence. She taught at several area colleges and at Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tenn. She taught at Lillis High School and at Notre Dame de Sion, both in Kansas City, Mo. While caring for her mother in Wichita, she taught at Kapaun-Mt. Carmel and received the Laurel Award, given to the person who had made the greatest contribution during the year. Her last eight years of teaching were spent teaching computer science at the Mount Academy.  Sister de Montfort served her community as treasurer and leader of the community senate steering committee in its second year.  Let us remember her in grateful prayer.


Reflection give at the Vigil Service

by Sister Loretta McGuire, OSB

I wish to extend my sincere sympathy to Sister Anne and the Community and especially to Montfort’s classmates Sisters Bettina and Mary Mel and dear friends Sisters Noreen and Mary Ellen, students and friends and guests.

Tonight the Scripture readings speak of the glorious virtues and blessings of Wisdom, the promises of our life with Christ through the waters of Baptism, and believing that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life.”

Sister de Montfort was a woman with great devotions to Mary the Mother of God, to St. Francis her Baptismal patron,  St. Joseph patron of the poor, and she lived the Benedictine Way of life with the study and pray of Scripture , life in community, and teaching. 

So what does on say of a woman who has these saints for her role model? Who wove these saints into her daily life.  Who valued and sought after Wisdom. Who pursued peace with all creation. Who loved animals and cherished life.  Who in her demeanor exemplified simplicity, befriended the marginalized,  believed in the goodness of each human person and was ever grateful.

To describe Sr. de Montfort I would say she was a private person, a little eccentric, quick witted, simple, intelligent, and nerved  tried of learning  She was a woman who reached out to those who were less fortunate, little odd, and the stranger.  She believed there would be a place in God’s kingdom for everyone. And she lived this belief.  She knew personal sorrow and tragedy when her father died suddenly of a heart attack, her bother was a prisoner of war and later died suddenly of a heart attack, and when her sister also died suddenly of an aneurysm while getting her young children and herself ready for school and the death of many friends in community.

Sister de Montfort understood well that she was given the gift of a very fine mind and she knew she was to nurture her mind for the good of all.  Ever grateful for her 12 years of education from the Sisters of St. Joseph in Wichita,  she knew it was to Mount St. Scholastica College where she would be able to pursue the Wisdom of God in the sciences, mathematics , and physics. And further studies at K-State and Notre Dame.  And then, in turn teach and pass on this knowledge, to students no matter their ethnic or economic background.  She believe the mind was to be developed to it potential.  And she lived this to the end.  Last fall taking Sister Irene’s class on the Psalms and even as de Montfort’s memory waned, she  would offer to help Sister Judy and Sister Gemina with their studies.

We witnessed Sister de Montfort’s devotion to her Baptismal patron Francis as she  exemplified her care for her beloved dog “Irish” and her visits with “Lucky”   She protected them, but she also protected persons who were marginalized.  Many of us could name persons she protected and befriended throughout her life;  Because she believed in the goodness of each human person. And we saw this in the simplicity of her dress, her choice of food (chocolate and Dr. Pepper), her choosing to ride the city bus and doing two transfers to teach at Notre Dame High School, and simple cord rosary she asked to be buried with.

Sister de Montfort’s devotions to St. Joseph and the Poor was instilled in her from her mother who at the age of five went to live with the Sisters of St. Joseph in Wichita and was raised by them because her own mother had died.  Sister de Montfort never forgot the love, care, and compassion given to her Mother.  Sister de Montfort en corporate the Sisters of St. Joseph of Wichita motto into her own daily life of “doing as much as I can, for as long as I can, for as many people as I can.”

Although Sister de Montfort had great devotion to Sr. Francis and St. Joseph it was here at Mount St. Scholastica she heard  the call to the Benedictine way of Life.  She understood well that her life wrapped in prayer, silence and learning would be the way she could reach the multitudes. She knew with all her heart that what she was freely given by God was to be given away.  While here in college she made the St. Louis de Montfort’s total dedications to the Mother of God.  And so in turn, she pursued getting the name Sister de Montfort .  The rosary was very important to her. Very important!  She told me, “for her the ‘Hail Mary’ was the most pure prayer of humility and surrender.”

As Sister de Montfort became aware that her life here on this earth was drawing to a close she became more free to visit,  her sense of humor and wit never dimmed and her gratitude for her care givers was ever gracious.  Throughout her life she saw the face of Christ in all around her and so it was no surprise early Saturday morning, as the 5th Glorious Mystery, The crowing of Mary as Queen of heaven, was being prayed Sister de Montfort  made her final surrender and met the Risen Christ face to face.

May she rest in peace.