March 23rd, 1930 – September 16, 2023
Sister Bettina Tobin, OSB Sister Bettina Tobin, OSB, 93, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kan., died Saturday, September 16, 2023, at the monastery. The vigil service will be Friday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. in the monastery chapel and the Mass of Resurrection will be on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 10:30 a.m. Sister Bettina was born in Maryville, Mo., on March 23, 1930, the second of three children of Vivian Hagerty Tobin and Robert Tobin of Burlington Junction, Mo. After graduating from Mount St. Scholastica Academy, she entered the Benedictine community in Atchison. In addition to her degree in education from Mount St. Scholastica College, she had additional studies in theology at St. John’s University, counseling at Boston College, art at San Diego State University, and photojournalism at Texas Tech. Sister Bettina taught at grade schools in Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa for over 20 years and at LeBlond High School in St. Joseph, Mo., and the Mount Academy in Atchison. In addition, she had other unique experiences. She spent a year at Madonna House in Canada, a contemplative hermit community, as a working guest and then became a missionary in Itaberaba, Brazil, for 12 years. Later she was part of a small Benedictine “presence” in Alma, Ks. Her creative spirit was seen in her sewing projects, a variety of craft items for the monastery’s gift shop, and two published children’s books. Sister Bettina was preceded in death by her parents and her brothers, Thomas and Don Tobin. She is survived by nieces and nephews, cousins, and her monastic family. Becker-Dyer-Stanton Funeral Home (www.beckerdyer.com) is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica or made online at the Mount’s web site (www.mountosb.org).
It would not be a difficult task for anyone of us to sing Sister Bettina’s praises. She was a shining
example of spending herself for God and in service to others. Of the many ways we could each describe
Bettina, I’ve chosen 3 words.
She was a walking definition of humility. No doubt Jesus would describe her with the same words he
described the apostle Nathaniel: “Behold, here is one in whom there is no guile!” She possessed that
essential requisite in the spiritual life – self-knowledge – which led to an inner freedom that came from
accepting herself as she was. Concern about giving a good impression or seeking recognition was
completely foreign to her. Perhaps this down-to-earthness became even more rooted when she worked in
Brazil for it heightened her compassion for the poor and deepened her conviction to live simply.
Benedictine Michael Casey says: “The outcome of humility is a life without fear; a life marked by
naturalness, the love of Christ and delight in virtue.” Bettina was certainly a natural; a woman who
loved Christ and found delight in virtue.
There is a Jewish story about an old Rabbi who would tell his students: “Carry a stone in each pocket; on
one stone write: “I am dust and ashes”; on the other stone write: “For me the universe was made.” I
think Bettina must have had those stones in her pockets!
My second word is “adapt.” Many times when we would converse about challenges in our monastic lives
she would at me intently and say: “You know we just have to adapt”. Worrying about things over which
she had no control was not for her. She embraced Jesus’ admonition to let go of anxiety, to be flexible, to
trust in the movements of the Spirit. Rather than give into anxiousness, she found joy in little things- her
writings, her children’s books (we all love “The Girl with Green Hair”), her creative art projects and her
While joy was a given in Bettina’s life, so were the inevitable sorrows…the deaths of loved ones, leaving
Brazil and re-entering a culture of affluence, moving to Dooley Center, accepting her declining health.
Through all these experiences she knew God was there. “We just have to adapt!” She reflected well that
“The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists”
Lastly, Bettina lived in a spirit of gratitude. She treasured her family, those special times together,
especially the glorious July family reunions at the old homestead. That same gratitude was evident in her
monastic life as well. Often she would say: “We have nothing to complain about. We are so blessed”.
These words of Thomas Merton describe Sister Bettina so well:
“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us–and He has given us
everything. Gratitude takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new
wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by
hearsay but by experience.”
Over these past weeks, Bettina sensed the nearness of death. Many of us heard her say: “I have lived a
good life; I’m ready to go.” Never was there the smallest hint of fear in taking that final leap of faith;
instead, her eagerness appeared to grow more and more intense. She had that same deep longing of which
St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection.”
We thank you, dear Sister Bettina, for showing us how to live the Gospel, how to grow in humility, how
to adapt, how to be grateful and how to live not in fear, but in hope of what lies ahead. May we learn and
follow your example.
Cecilia Olson, OSB