Sister Mary Walker, 81, a member of Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, entered eternal life Tuesday, March 9, at St. Vincent’s Care Center where, related to a number of health conditions, Sister Mary has been a resident since 2009. In 2011 the monastic community celebrated 50 years of monastic profession with Sister Mary at St. Vincent’s.
Sister Mary, known as Sister Matthew in her first years as a Benedictine sister of Annunciation Monastery, was born in Mott, ND on October 21, 1939, but grew up in Bismarck as the fourth of seven children born to William and Lillian (Behrenfeld) Walker. She was elected Governor of Girls State while a student at St. Mary’s High School and, after graduation, began college at Mount Marty in Yankton, SD. In the fall of 1959, Sister Mary was among the first class of postulants to enter the newly completed Annunciation Priory (Monastery). Education continued at Mary College (University of Mary), at St. Louis University, MO, where she received her master’s degree in social work, and at Boston College, where she completed a master’s degree in theology. Earlier, as an instructor for six years at the Sisters’ Priory High School, Sister Mary often wrote and produced original Advent and Lenten dramas with students as the cast. Priory High graduates tell of these experiences as precious memories. Sister Mary calls her more than 20 years as assistant professor of Theology at the University of Mary some of the best years of her life. Of this time she said, “I loved the opportunity to meet and teach so many wonderful students. I consider it a real honor to have been a part of their lives and feel it is of the utmost importance to honor the experiences we share with one another.”
With a love of learning, Sister Mary was an avid reader and always had recommendations for a good book or sources of material for a particular topic when consulted. Her students remember her as “Sister Mary Handout” related to the many articles distributed for their study. Out of the riches gained through reading and experience, she wrote poetry and reflections, and had a great concern for the disheartened and despairing that resulted from violence and unjust conditions in our world. As former students remember, Sister Mary advised that they “pray the newspaper.” Her genuine interest in people brought Sister Mary to approach others new to her as an opportunity to meet an acquaintance or make a friend.
Sister Mary is survived by her sisters, Wanda (Dennis) Doppler, Bismarck; Zona Easton, Edina, MN; and Dorothy (Jim Mowbray), Port St. Joe, FL, nieces and nephews, and the Sisters of Annunciation Monastery. She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister, Frances, and brothers William “Billy Jack” and David.
Memorials may be made to Annunciation Monastery. To share memories of Sister Mary, visit www.eastgatefuneral.com and sign the online guest book.