Sister Amelia Nowatzke
November 29, 1928 – January 18, 2022
Sister Amelia Nowatzke, OSB, 93, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kansas, died Tuesday, January 18, 2022, at the monastery. A vigil was held February 23 in the monastery’s choir chapel. A Mass of Resurrection was held March 26, 2022, in St. Scholastica Chapel followed by burial in the monastery cemetery.
Sister Amelia was born on November 29, 1928, in Panama, Iowa, one of six children of Jacob and Rose Gubbels Nowatzke, and entered the Mount community in 1952. Earning a bachelor’s degree in education from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, she taught in elementary schools in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa for over 40 years. After her teaching career, she served as pastoral associate at Sacred Heart parish in Ottawa, Kansas.
When she returned to the Mount in 1998, she began serving in hospitality at the monastery, preparing for guests and greeting them warmly as receptionist, coordinator of funeral and feast day dinners, and hostess in the guest quarters for many years. Warm and gracious, she was a familiar and welcoming presence for many of the sisters’ families and friends who came for visits.
Sister Amelia was preceded in death by her parents and by her siblings, Jacob, Joseph, Marie, and Raymond Nowatzke and Ann Kwapiszeski. She is survived by nieces and nephews and her monastic family. Becker-Dyer-Stanton Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica or made online at the Mount’s website.
Watch the vigil held February 23, 2022.
Watch the Mass of Resurrection, held March 26, 2022.
Reflection for the Vigil of Sister Amelia Nowatzke
Sister Patricia Gamgort, OSB | February 23, 2022
Readings: Isaiah 55:1-3, 12; Hebrews 12:28-29, 13:1-2; Matthew 6:25-33
“Seek first the kingdom of God and all other things will be added to you!”
The verses from Matthew’s Gospel that you just heard proclaimed sum up for me the life of Sr. Amelia Nowatzke.
I have only really known Amelia for the past 6+ years that I have been at The Mount, and I was her companion for most of those years. What a privilege to have been in her presence! Ours was a mutual companioning. Would that I be able to practice her example of serenity and trust in God’s will and God’s providence!
The following will be my experience of Sr. Amelia as I witnessed her living out her Benedictine life of more than 65 yrs:
(After the vigil, Sr. Jeannine, Amelia’s best friend, and others of you who lived with her, taught with her, knew her family, will tell stories in a rich sharing of memories, I’m sure.)
The gospel that first “jumped out” at me when I thought of Sr. Amelia’s living and dying was Mt. 6:25 – “Do not worry about what to eat or drink or about what clothes to put on. Just look at the lilies of the fields and the birds of the air.”
Amelia took those words to heart, trusting in God’s providence and accepting of whatever God sent her way! Even the stroke, which took a toll on her, didn’t cause her faith or her love of life to waver. She was determined to walk and gave herself wholeheartedly to rehabilitating those weakened muscles. Amelia was so proud of herself when she was able to move about with the assistance of a walker.
At times, she would be annoyed with that “withered” left hand, but she’d just say “This old hand won’t do what I want it to do.” Even when her food and drink had to be thickened, she still enjoyed eating and being present to celebrate with the community.
Amelia didn’t consume herself with worry; she trusted in God, and moved on with her life. Amelia always seemed to know instinctively that she was much more important than flowers and birds!
The second reading from Hebrews speaks about a kingdom that cannot be shaken – Amelia was so even tempered. I never heard her complaining or wavering in her trust in God and in people. (She may have felt differently inside, but I never saw anything or anyone “ruffle her feathers.”)
Hebrews goes on to say that we should give thanks.
Amelia was one of the most grateful people I knew. She often wrote me “thank-you notes” for nightly visits, turning down her bed after praying Compline in St. Lucy’s chapel, and setting out her night clothes. I enjoyed doing this for my companion.
She was grateful for cards, gifts, and pictures she received from community members, family, and faithful friends. Amelia was most appreciative of visits and calls from her nieces and nephews and especially for the memorable, 90th Birthday party they provided for her. That day remained one of the greatest highlights of her final years!
And what made everything worth doing for Sr. Amelia?? My greatest “thank you” was her rewarding me with that big “Amelia smile” that lit up her sparkling blue eyes!
Again, words we heard from Hebrews that sum up Amelia’s “Suscipe:” “Our God is a consuming fire.” She loved and lived out her Benedictine vocation. I never heard her give voice to being “disappointed in her hope” that she vowed to her faithful God over 65 years ago!
Even in her final days, when she wasn’t speaking, nor was she gracing us with her smiling blue eyes, Sr. Amelia’s countenance still radiated serenity and being comfortable with her God. She slept peacefully as our sisters sent her forth with the songprayer, “Go forth to Paradise.”
Sr. Amelia’s leave-taking of her earthy home was peaceful, but Isaiah 55, our first reading, shouts out her glorious entrance into Paradise with these words: “In joy you shall depart and in peace you shall be brought back; Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you and all the trees of the countryside shall clap their hands!”
After years of inclining the ear of her heart and listening intently to her God,
Sr. Amelia did go back to her maker in joy and in peace!
“The mountains and hills did burst into song and all the trees of the forest did clap their hands!”
And, I could picture Amelia, singing and dancing and clapping her hands with all of nature and with all of her family members who joyfully ushered her into eternity with bouquets of her home-grown peonies!
Sr. Amelia, may eternal joy be yours!