Sister Mary Elizabeth Mason, 94, a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, entered eternal life Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, at the monastery.
Mary Elizabeth was born Sept. 13, 1917, in Richmond, Va. She was the first of three daughters of Bland and Kathleen (Mount) Mason. After completing junior college, she entered a French religious community in North Carolina and made vows Feb. 27, 1937. When World War II unsettled this international community, she transferred to Annunciation Monastery. She made monastic profession on Nov. 25, 1948.
Sister Mary Elizabeth served as librarian and taught at St. Mary’s Central High School, Bismarck, from 1948-1957. She obtained a master’s degree in Latin from Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wis. in 1959 and became the first principal of the sisters’ Priory High School and also taught at the University of Mary. In 1966 after earning a doctorate in English from Loyola University, Chicago, Ill. she served as chair and professor of humanities at the University of Mary. During the summers she worked as a cataloguer of medieval monastic manuscripts at St. John’s Abbey/University, Collegeville, Minn.
Sister Mary Elizabeth embarked on a new ministry in 1973 when she became pastoral associate at the Church of St. Anne in Bismarck, a position she held until 1990. These were some of the most rewarding years of her life. “I was often teacher, counselor, and friend,” she wrote.
A woman who read widely and was a gifted writer and editor, Sister Mary Elizabeth was a long-time member of writing committees of the Federation of St. Benedict which produced post Vatican II documents. She was a stylist, translator and proofreader for an English translation of the Rule of Benedict known as RB 80. For many years she served as a book reviewer and associate editor of the now discontinued Sisters Today. Her last work was the 50-year history of the University of Mary, Learning to Lead.
Sister Mary Elizabeth continued to teach in some form most of her life. In 1998 at the age of 80, she taught English at the College of the Marshall Islands in the North Pacific. She lived with Maryknoll Missionaries and cherished this unforgettable experience.
Always willing to help people, she volunteered for numerous organizations including the Bismarck Adult Learning Tutors program, St. Alexius Hospice and the Talking Books program of the North Dakota State Library. In 2011 she was commended for 3,294 hours of service to Talking Books.
Sister Mary Elizabeth had a keen intellect and loved learning. She took every opportunity to expand her mind with new insights about a wide variety of subjects. Her concerns were global. She often prayed for the needs of the world.
Dedicated to God and her monastic community, she will be missed for her kindness, quick wit, generosity and grateful heart. She once summed up her many decades of monastic life in five words: “God is good to me.”
Sister Mary Elizabeth is survived by nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and the Sisters of Annunciation Monastery.
Memorials may be made to Annunciation Monastery.