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Funeral Reflection for Sister Lawrence Fischer, OSB

Sister Lawrence Fischer Funeral Reflection from the Prioress

Funeral Reflection for Sister Lawrence Fischer

Sister Nicole Kunze, Prioress

May 29, 2024

We gather as a faith community today to celebrate the life of Sister Lawrence.  We extend our sympathy to Sister Lawrence’s siblings and in-laws, and her many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.  I welcome family and friends joining us today through the livestream.  We sisters thank all of you for your prayers and support for us.   

As we all know, Sister Lawrence’s main ministry, for more than 35 years, was as monastery treasurer.  Any accountant or bookkeeper knows that an organization or business needs a Chart of Accounts.  It provides a list of accounts used for assigning each expenditure – meetings, travel, raw food, employee salaries, to name a few.  For Sister Lawrence, I see her personal chart of accounts as being where she spent her time and energy throughout her life.  I think the major accounts would be:  Family, her Benedictine vocation, and her Ministry. 

Account number one – Family.  Rita Ann was the second child and first daughter of 14 children born to Leonard and Clara Fischer on the farm near Rhame.  I think the best one to explain this account would be Sister Lawrence herself.  In 2012, she and her sisters made a weekend retreat at Sacred Heart Monastery in Richardton and each sister wrote a poem entitled “Where I’m From”.  Here are some excerpts from Sister Lawrence’s poem: 

“I was Mom’s helper from as far back as I could help.  Setting table, clearing table, helping with dishes, helping little ones dress and be ready for the day.  After school, help or get supper ready, help little ones get ready for bed, wait for all to gather for rosary and night prayers.  Often times stay home from school to help – wash day, canning day – often averaged missing school one day a week.  In looking back, a goodly share of my time, my life, was being there and caring for others, doing things together.  I learned a deep sense of responsibility, sharing, caring, prayer and service early in my life.  For this I am grateful because it was a wonderful preparation in responding to God’s call to seek Him in a Benedictine Monastic Community of Women.” 

Account number two – her Benedictine vocation.  Sister Lawrence’s entry to Annunciation Monastery came a few years after high school graduation.  She helped out at home for a year before attending the College of St. Benedict for two years.  Her association with the Bismarck Benedictines came through the sisters who came to teach catechism each summer in Rhame.  Sister Lawrence’s faithfulness to community prayers and her personal prayers was an example to us all.  After leaving her office late in the evening, you would find her in front of the Blessed Sacrament saying her night prayers before going to her bedroom.  During her illness, attending community prayer was just too much for Sister Lawerence to do and I found it hard to witness.  I didn’t question her absence – she would have been there if it was at all possible.  We fondly remember Sister Lawrence’s annual Christmas gift to the Sisters – homemade pecan pie.  In Sister Lawrence’s life, her Benedictine life and family intertwined often.  She was a prayer warrior for all generations of her family.  We sisters became familiar with family through the many notes she placed on the prayer board, asking us to join her in prayer for a sibling, in-law, niece, or grandnephew.  Sister Lawrence did her best to keep track of nieces, nephews and now grandnieces and nephews attending the University of Mary.  We look forward to welcoming two grandnieces as freshmen this fall. 

Account number three – her ministry in community as treasurer.  Sister Lawrence began her ministry life as a teacher before Prioresses realized her gifts were best suited for business.  In her role as treasurer, she was very, very detailed.  I quickly learned that Sister Lawrence did not provide any short answers to questions.  She gave you the background, the reasoning, and her full thoughts on the matter.    The financial position our monastery is in today is due in large part to Sister Lawrence’s careful oversight and management of our financial resources.   Her no-nonsense and straightforward approach to business did lend itself to a few challenging relationships with some sisters over the years.  She did let some folks into her inner circle, sharing tender moments of friendship.  These people were special to her.  You know who you are.  Change, particularly in recent years and during her illness this winter and spring, was difficult for Sister Lawrence, but her faith and trust in God did not waver.  I appreciated the video her sister, Liz, shared with us when Sister Lawrence moved to Benedictine – St. Gabriel’s in early April.  Sister Lawrence shared Peter’s response to Jesus – ‘Lord, I will never let anyone wash my feet.’  Then she shared Jesus’s response:  ‘If you don’t, you will never be my follower.’  Sister Lawrence accepted what was being asked of her and remained faithful to God until the very end. 

Sister Lawrence lived a full and faithful life in our Benedictine community for nearly 64 years.  Thank you, Sister Lawrence, for sharing your life with all of us.  We are grateful for the gift you have been to us.  We will miss your presence among us.  May you now share in the glory of God with the saints in heaven.