Sister Sharon Holthaus, OSB

April 1, 1922 - August 23, 2014

Sister Sharon Holthaus, OSB, 92, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kans., died Saturday, August 23, 2014, at the monastery.  The vigil service will be Monday, August 25, at 7:00 p.m. in the monastery chapel, and the Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated there Tuesday, August 26, at 10:30 a.m.

S. Sharon Holthaus%2C OSBSister Sharon Holthaus was the third of six children born to Rose and Francis Holthaus in Seneca, Kansas. She attended Baileyville Grade and High School. She worked one year as a secretary before entering the Mount Benedictines in 1941.  She made her perpetual profession in 1945. After teaching primary grades for eight years in Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa, she was missioned to Colegio Guadalupe in Mexico where she taught for 17 years. She chaperoned a group of high school students from Mexico to New York for the World’s Fair in 1964. From 1972-77, she did pastoral ministry in the Nemaha-Marshall area with a team of five sisters. She taught religion at LeBlond High School and was a pastoral minister for the aged in St. Joseph, Mo., and Seneca, Ks., for several years. She served on the community senate and was always interested in community activities. After returning to the Mount in 1989, she served as director of the laundry and did miscellaneous services. Sister Sharon enjoyed working with crafts and flowers.

Sister Sharon was preceded in death by her parents Francis and Rose (Olberding) Holthaus. She is survived by her brothers, George, Edwin, and Leo Holthaus; her sisters, Rita Strathman and Vivina Strathman; many nieces and nephews; and her monastic family. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica or made online.

 
Sister Sharon's memorial card

Blessed is she who has believed
that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.
Luke 1:45

Sister Sharon Holthaus was the third of six children born to Rose and Francis Holthaus in Seneca, Kan., and attended Baileyville schools. She worked one year as a secretary before entering the Mount Benedictines in 1941.  She made her perpetual profession in 1945. After teaching primary grades for eight years in Kansas, Missouri and Iowa, she was missioned to Colegio Guadalupe in Mexico where she taught for 17 years. She chaperoned a group of high school students from Mexico to New York for the World’s Fair in 1964. From 1972-77, she did pastoral ministry in the Nemaha-Marshall area with a team of five sisters. She taught religion at LeBlond High School and was a pastoral minister for the aged in St. Joseph, Mo., and Seneca, Ks., for several years. She served on the community senate and was always interested in community activities. After returning to the Mount in 1989, she served as director of the laundry and did miscellaneous services. Sister Sharon enjoyed working with crafts and flowers. Cheerful and humorous, she brought joy to those with whom she lived. She also delighted in her family, especially her numerous grand nieces and nephews, and great-grand nieces and nephews. Let us remember her gratefully in prayer.

 

Reflection at the Vigil Service for S. Sharon Holthaus, O.S.B.

25 August 2014
by Linda Herndon, OSB

 Readings:
Song of Songs 2:8-14
1 Peter 1:3-9
Luke 1: 39-56

We extend our sympathy to Sister Sharon’s family, those who are here with us and those who are with us in spirit—to her brothers, George, Edwin, and Leo, her sisters, Rita and Vivina,her many, many nieces and nephews, grand- and great-grand nieces & nephews, and all whom she loved so dearly and of whom she was so proud. Be assured of our prayers. 

The mystery of life and death are so present to us these days. This morning we gathered and said farewell to our Sister Mary Ann Fessler. Tonight we gather again to say our good-byes to another of our sisters, Sister Sharon Holthaus, who shared life with us in community for 73 years. Our farewell this evening is sad, since we know that we will never see Sister Sharon’s dancing, slightly mischievous eyes or her smile again in this life. But our sadness soon turns to joy as we reflect on the new life that is now hers.

The readings selected for this Vigil service are so rich and speak to us of Sister Sharon’s life with us. The first reading from Song of Songs recalls what it must have been like for the young, nineteen year-old Virginia Holthaus as she listened to the voice of her beloved call her from the rolling hills and farm fields of Baileyville, Kansas, to come to Atchison. “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” On a cold day in January 1941, Virginia answered the call and came to the Mount.  As with each of us, she had no idea where her “yes” would lead her individually or with us in community. 

Her first few years found her teaching first and second graders, then in 1950 she went to Mexico City to Colegio Guadalupe where she taught for 17 years.  She loved her students there and they loved her. I have been in touch with several of them since her death and they have vivid stories that they remember from those fifty-plus years ago. One former student wrote (and I quote) “S. Sharon was an exemplary teacher in many ways. Her students became excellent secretaries for the many American companies who hired well-qualified executive assistants. S. Sharon always had a word at hand to comfort us in difficult times, and gave us excellent lessons of devotion and of ethics in life.”  

Another student wrote that when she was a junior in high school, she was part of a group S. Sharon trained to help teach adults to read and write at a small village near Mexico City, called Tulpetlac.  “All I can tell you,” she said, “is that Sister Sharon was always patient and loving, and that her smile never abandoned her face.”

Throughout her years in community, no matter where they lead her, Sister Sharon was a faithful monastic. She was always willing to serve her community wherever and however she was needed. Even in her later years as one of our monastic elders, she was always interested in community activities and wanted to be included and take part in community meetings and gatherings as much as she was able.  

These recent years when her sight and hearing were failing, she continued to faithfully attend morning and evening praise and Mass. Sister Sharon may not have been able to hear or see much at all, but she was there. Such a faithful example of presence and prayer speaks louder than any words ever could. Every day at evening praise, she prayed the Canticle of Mary, the Magnificat, from the Gospel of Luke that we just heard proclaimed. After praying this hymn day-after-day year-after-year for 73 years, it seems that it had become Sister Sharon’s own hymn echoing deep in her soul and witnessed through her living. Sharon rejoiced in God her savior as she experienced God’s mercy in her life. She believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her even in the midst of her infirmities and trials. Her rejoicing must truly be glorious and indescribable for now sees the One whom she loved, for whom she waited. 

With S. Sharon’s strong devotion to the Blessed Mother, I was surprised that she did not die on Friday, the feast of the Queenship of Mary. I even told several sisters that I was sure Sharon was waiting to die on that Marian feast. But Sharon didn’t die on Friday… When I was reminded that Sharon’s mother’s name was Rose, it all became clear to me. On Saturday, the feast of St. Rose of Lima, Sharon’s mother, Rose, whom she loved dearly, must have come to accompany Sharon on her final journey.  

Sister Sharon had said that she was ready to die. Her strong faith “being more precious than gold” had sustained her throughout her life. Her family had come to see her for one final time. Her promised inheritance “that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven” for her was waiting. And, shortly after sunrise on Saturday morning, she once again heard the voice of her Beloved whom she had first heard years ago. This time it was clear and distinct, calling to her… “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away”…there will be no more winter, no more summer heat…the flowers that you loved are in bloom and the time for singing has come. Sister Sharon’s sight fails no more, for now she sees her God face-to-face. In a few moments when we stand to sing the Canticle of Mary, let us join our voices and sing with the Blessed Virgin Mary and with Sister Sharon, “I acclaim the greatness of the Lord. I delight in God my Savior!”