Sister Theophane Reinecke, OSB

February 1, 1915 - January 4, 2012

Sister TheophaneSister Theophane Reinecke, OSB, 96, a Benedictine Sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kans., died on January 4, 2012 at the monastery. The vigil will be at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, January 6 in the monastery chapel and the Mass of Resurrection will be on Saturday, January 7 at 10:30 a.m.

Sister Theophane was born February 1, 1915, the oldest of the seven children of John and Rose Hohe Reinecke, Baileyville, Kans. She attended Baileyville schools until her senior year, graduated from Mount St. Scholastica Academy, Atchison, and entered the Benedictine community there in 1932. She made monastic profession in 1934, and final profession in 1937. Sister Theophane graduated from Mount St. Scholastica College with a bachelor's degree in education, and earned the Master of Arts in education from the University of Notre Dame. She also did graduate work in counseling at Notre Dame, Kansas State Teachers College (Emporia), and the College of St. Thomas, Minneapolis. For 46 years she taught in community schools including Guardian Angels (Kansas City, Mo.), LeBlond High School (St. Joseph, Mo.), and in Creston, Iowa, Flush, Kans., and Atkinson, Nebr. She spent much of her career as teacher and principal of Mount St. Scholastica Academy (1957-1965) and as dorm director there (1969-1981). She also began the Catholic school in Ottawa, Kans., and was principal there 1948-1957. When she retired from academic services, she served in the business offices of Benedictine College, Mount St. Scholastica Academy, and her monastery. Her students and colleagues remember her as a capable woman of prayer and refinement.

She was predeceased by her parents and siblings Frank, Clarence, Rita Holthaus and Clara Sextvern, and is survived by her sisters Helen Stallbaumer and Rose Ann Nordhus, her brother-in-law George Holthaus, by nieces and nephews, and by her monastic community. Let us remember her gratefully in our prayers.

S. Theophane's memorial card:

"Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all my being bless God's holy name."

Psalm 103:1

Sister Theophane shared her many gifts with students, friends, the sisters, and the colleagues she came to know in a life dedicated to monastic ideals and education. Raised by an aunt after her mother died, Sister Theophane was the oldest child of John and Rose Hohe Reinecke of Baileyville, Kansas. After graduating from Mount St. Scholastica Academy, she entered the Mount community in 1932 and made monastic profession in 1934. She graduated from Mount St. Scholastica College with a major in education, and earned a master's degree in education from the University of Notre Dame. She started the grade school in Ottawa, Kansas, was principal of the Mount Academy from 1959 to 1965, and was residence hall director there from 1969 to 1981. She worked in the Academy, College, and monastery business offices. Retreatants visited with her frequently in the dining room, appreciative of her unique mix of single-minded devotion to her calling and her understanding of what was going on in the world. They found her a good listener, interested in their views. She happily memorized 75 psalms and, walking down the hall, she would use as her mantra, "Bless the Lord, O my soul." Let us remember her in thankful prayer.

Reflection given at the Vigil Service

by Sister Joachim Holthaus

Scripture readings: Isaiah 25: 6-9; I Cor. 13: 1-10, 12-13; Matthew: 28: 1-10

We are celebrating a death in our Benedictine family. Sister Theophane quickly bade this world farewell early on Wednesday morning. Her death journey began the last week of Advent when the liturgy theme was a series of invitations: "O come, O come Emmanuel, "O Come Divine Messiah," "Come O long expected Jesus."

In the "O antiphons" each closes with "O Come Lord, come to save us." "O Key of David" concludes with "Come deliver, Lord, do not delay. Come Lord to save us." Sister Theophane's death pilgrimage seemed to take a long time. Abbot Owen told us about the architect of a Spanish church, who when asked how long it would take to finish the church said: "My client is not in a hurry." Sister Theophane could have said that with a twinkle in her eye.

Sister Theophane loved the psalms and I understand that she tried to memorize many or perhaps all of them. I know that Psalm 56 would have been consoling to her from childhood on. "When I am afraid, I trust you God most high. I trust you without fear. I am certain of this: God is on my side." Her fear and trust go back to her childhood. Her mother died when Theophane was approximately 12 years old. She was the oldest of seven children left motherless. My uncle, Dr. Bernreiter, had just come over to America as a young doctor and he told me years later how difficult it was for him to see Mrs. Reinecke dying and he could do nothing to check the progression of death because the medical world had not yet discovered penicillin.

In the scripture readings tonight, Isaiah tells us that the Lord will swallow up death forever and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. Paul, in poetic words gives us that famous speech: "though I speak with the tongues of angels" and, in the Gospel, Matthew gives us the dramatic resurrection scene with earthquake, the angel, and the Risen Christ. The three readings are well linked: the Old Testament look at death, the Risen Christ as the fulfillment of those long years of waiting, and the doctrine of love which Christ exacts of His followers.

Isaiah dares to proclaim that death and sorrow shall be vanquished. Sister Theophane believed this with the strong faith that marked her life. May she realize this with tremendous gratitude as she stands before her God in the presence of her parents and her loved ones.

In a burst of glory the words of Revelation were written: "And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, nor pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:4). "There will be no more night, they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light; and they will reign forever and ever" (Rev. 22:5).

Reflection shared with the sisters in Mineiros, Brazil, at their Vigil Service

by Sister Rose Marie Stallbaumer

The women in this Resurrection story were strong women. They were not afraid to go to the tomb where Jesus lay. The earthquake and the appearance of the angel did not send them running away. Sister Theophane was very much like these women. She was a woman of strength and a woman of faith. Her very physical presence was one of strength. She was tall and stood very erect. She exuded strength in her actions, her ministry and her presence in community. She could easily have been one of the women who went to the tomb to see Jesus.

Many of the sisters remember Sister Theophane doing dramatic theatrical readings for us at various occasions. She loved to do this. She also memorized some of the psalms and would proclaim the psalm from memory. And in doing so, she would give us new insights into the meaning of the psalm by her proclamation of it. She gave new life to our prayer of the psalm in her own small way, much as Jesus gave new life. And she was not afraid to proclaim the good news through the psalms nor through her very life.

Sister Theophane was someone who gave her all to community and to whatever ministry she was assigned to do. She was gentle, yet firm, both with her sisters in community and with the students and others that she served. In her service to others, she gently reached out to many people. The story that Sister Anne told about the former students that came to visit her shows this. She not only cared for the students in the classroom or dormitory, but she reached out to learn about their personal lives and their families. Over the years many have come back to visit her.

Sister Theophane was a faithful community member, always present and involved. She also was very faithful to her family. Her sister Helen, who is also my aunt, lived in Atchison with her mentally handicapped son who was unable to get a regular job and to provide for himself. Helen and Danny lived just down the street from the monastery. Sister Theophane walked to their house every Sunday to visit. When Helen had to move to a care home for the elderly, Sister Theophane continued to visit Danny and helped him learn to cook, do his laundry and adjust to living by himself. She always cared for others in need, but she did this in a very quiet and unassuming way.

In recent years Sister Theophane lived in Dooley Center. She had much difficulty with her legs and it was difficult for her to walk but she continued to try as long as she could. More recently she had difficulty with her speech and was unable to communicate with others. This was a great trial for her. She would sit in Dooley Center where she could see other sisters and enjoyed watching them. She said that “she was watching the world go by.” Until very recently she could call each sister by name and her face always lit up when you stopped to visit with her. She loved to hold your hand; that became her way of communicating in the end.

About four years ago one of her brothers died. At that time she talked about her death. She told her family that she did not want them to mourn her death. She had a good life and was eager to go to heaven. I imagine that now she is able to run with the women of the gospel, no longer crippled by her swollen legs. And she is able to proclaim once again the psalms and the good news of her own new life.

May she rest in peace.