Sister Laura Haug, OSB
Sister Laura Haug, OSB, 93, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kans., died Wednesday, January 22, 2020, at the monastery. The vigil service will be Friday, January 24, at 7:00 p.m. in the monastery chapel, and the Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated there Saturday, January 25, at 10:30 a.m.
Sister Laura Haug was one of ten children born to Mary and Frank Haug of Baileyville, Kansas, where she attended elementary and high school. She entered the Mount community in 1943, and January 1 of this year marked her diamond jubilee of 75 years of monastic profession. She taught grade and high school for 20 years and also served as principal in Wamego and Lenexa, Kansas. Earning a master’s degree in school administration from Creighton University and a Ph.D. in school curriculum and administration from the University of Kansas, she became a college professor. From 1971 to 1992, she served as chair of the Education Department at Benedictine College and was recognized in 1989 as Educator of the Year by the college. During a sabbatical, she was a consultant and teacher at Bethlehem University in the West Bank. After her college career, she served as director of adult education at Donnelly College, director of the Mount Community Center, and director of Happy Hearts GED program in Atchison.
Sister Laura was preceded in death by her parents, brothers Lawrence, Robert and Cletus Haug and sisters Veronica Macke, Sister Cleta Haug, OSB, Margaret Buessing, and Marie Roeder. She is survived by her sisters Rosella Kohake and Cleta (Galen) Wietharn, nieces and nephews, and her monastic family. Arensberg-Pruett Funeral Home (arensbergpruett.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).
Given by Sister Jeanne d’Arc Kernion, OSB | January 24, 2020
Let me begin by saying it is indeed an honor to give this reflection.
We gather here this evening to celebrate the life of Sister Laura who this year, at age 93, was celebrating her 75th anniversary of vows as a Benedictine Sister in this community of Mount St. Scholastica. We welcome all her family members and offer them our sincerest sympathy, even as we share their grief.
What’s in a name? Though baptized Martha, the name Laura was the name by which she was known for some 79 years, having been given it when she received the habit. That name, derived from the laurel tree whose leaves were used for crowns bestowed on victors, is now defined as “victorious in spirit.”
When we look at Sister Laura’s life and all the successes of those 75 years, there is no doubt that that she was victorious, accomplishing much which made a difference in many people’s lives, for most of her years were spent as a teacher. She began teaching elementary school in 1945. So began her career as the master teacher which she indeed did become, covering some 62 years in classroms in schools in Iowa, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas. She went from teaching elementary school, to high school and then to college, where she was professor of education and chair of the education department at Mount St. Scholastica College and Benedictinee College for nearly 30 years, teaching others how to teach. These years included 16 of work in adult education and a year of teaching at Bethlehem University in Jerusalem.
When her teaching years ended, Sister Laura, who always kept Martha inside her, was available for various duties in the Mount community. Her superiors knew she would work at anything they needed, from clearing closets to knitting items for the Monastery Gift Shop. Until recently, she was a most valuable associate to Sr. Paula in the production of icons.
All this that Sr. Laura accomplished is enough for her to be considered victorious. It is fitting tonight for us to remember that she devoted so much energy and so many years to these ministeries.
But as Browning wrote, “tis not what man Does which exalts him.” All this is only what Sister Laura did, not who she was, and not why or how we remember her. Our memories are rather of a women of steadfast goodness, the gift with which she blessed us all those long years. In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, we heard, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her, those who hold her fast are called happy.” Those of us who have shared years in community with Sister Laura recognize her in that verse. Ever pleasant, she was an example of cheerfulness and generosity, always quick to help wherever it was needed. Quiet and non-imposing, her quietness covering her attention and care, she blessed those around her with her soft smile. Perhaps it was this smile that earned her the title, “Sister Sunshine” from her students.
Strong trees need strong roots. How did Sister Laura become this tree? No doubt her faithfulness to prayer and her Benedictine vocation were the source. Jeremiah tells us, “Blessed is the woman who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord. She is like a tree planted besides the waters, that stretches out its roots to the stream.” Sister Laura’s strength was drawn from her trust in the Lord . Over all the years, until her illness started a few days ago, Sister Laura was an example of faithfulness to community prayer. When asked in an inerview what she thought her legacy would be, her reply was, “having lived my Benedictine life,” something she did quite faithfully.
Like the trees in those two readings, our Laura tree had deep roots, a strong trunk, and lovely leaves. She was true to her name, “victorious in spirit.” It is as this, a handmaiden of God, that she will long be remembered.
Sister Laura, who had a special love for the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd, heard and lived the Lord’s word in the gospel we heard tonight. “I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.” We knew her as one who truly entered the Lord’s gate and so was saved.
The last verse of the opening hymm especially captures the Sister Laura we will ever hold in our hearts:
“And so through all the length of days,
Your goodness fails me never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing your praise
Within your house forever.”
We rejoice that our Sister Laura, truly victorious in spirit and in her devotion to the Lord, is now at peace and singing His praise within His house forever.