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God bless our 60-Year Jubilarians

The Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, joyfully congratulate Sisters Mariah Dietz, Patricia Schap, and Gerard Wald, on their 60th anniversary of monastic profession. The jubilarians will celebrate in a private ceremony with the monastic community on July 11, 2024.



Sister Mariah Dietz, OSB – 60th Jubilee

“I am grateful I was chosen for this life…”

I’ve been so blessed. I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do in my 60 years of being a Benedictine Sister of Annunciation Monastery. As a sister, teacher. and nurse, I am grateful for the opportunities to care for others.”

Sister Mariah is the oldest daughter and the fifth of nine children born to the late Herman and Maria in Sentinel Butte, N.D. Her parents were both teachers who instilled the love of learning and love of the Eucharist in their children.

Like many young women, Sister Mariah had dreams of getting married, having her own home and a house full of children. She was a freshman at the University of Mary (then Mary College) when her boyfriend asked for her hand in marriage. Confused, she called her mother for advice. She took this motherly wisdom to heart, “Pray. Don’t tell the Lord what you want to hear. Be open.” Sister Mariah recalls praying in the chapel and noticing the sun glinting off the gold leaf wall of the chapel, when she realized she wanted to become a sister. “From that day forward, I never doubted my decision,” she says.

The most difficult thing for Sister Mariah to let go of was her desire to have children. A natural caregiver, the thought of not having children grieved her. She told the Lord, “I will continue to be a sister if you will give me opportunities to be with children.” And God provided. “I babysat, I spoiled my nieces and nephews. I have taught so many students; they are all my kids.”

Her desire to be a nurse grew out of caring for others. “I like to take care of people; it makes me feel I have something to offer.” She earned a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree from the University of Mary, Bismarck; a Master of Nursing from the University of Illinois, Chicago; and a Doctor of Nursing Science from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Most of her professional life has been teaching nursing courses at the University of Mary. She loved this ministry and her students. She was spiritual director at St. Gabriel’s for three years. She served on the St. Alexius Board of Directors, the Sponsorship Council for Annunciation Monastery and is a director of women in initial formation. In addition, she was vice president of Mission Effectiveness at CHI St. Alexius Health. Sister Mariah continues to offer her companionship and health care assistance to her sisters in community.

Sister Mariah says her greatest gifts of the past 60 years have been her sisters in monastic community. “I have been mentored by the best women ever. They taught me to pray. I love the Divine Office and lectio divina (private reflection on the Scriptures). It brings you back to God, hour after hour. You may be tired, but you get refreshed by the Word of God.”

She feels being a sister is a great option for women who are called by God. She says, “This life hits at the very essence of who we are. We are created to know, love, and serve God. You get so much support and encouragement in our community. I am grateful I was chosen for this life.”


Sister Patricia Schap, OSB – 60th Jubilee

“Each day is a new beginning to grow in God’s love.”

Sister Patricia’s life has been full of beginnings as she followed Jesus to her calling to religious life. Sister Patricia was born in Valley City, N.D., to Loren and Frieda Schap and her brother, Dallas (all deceased) and a sister, Sharon.

Her father’s work required the family to move frequently throughout North Dakota. Sister Patricia learned to be open to new beginnings and marvels that she attended four different high schools. During those years, she was taught by Presentation Sisters and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chondrolet. Sister Patricia graduated from high school from St. John’s Academy, Jamestown, N.D.

She earned a degree in education from Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D. Sister Patricia’s first teaching job was at Cathedral school in Bismarck. It was there that she met Sister Michael Kaliher of Annunciation Monastery. Sister Michael taught across the hall from her and became a cherished friend and mentor. This led Sister Patricia to become more familiar with the Annunciation Monastery sisters.

Sister Patricia expected she would marry someday and have children. She had been in a serious relationship with a young man but often wondered if God was calling her to religious life. She followed God’s call to become a sister of Annunciation Monastery.

Sister Patricia earned a teaching degree from Presentation Junior College, Aberdeen, S.D; a Master in Elementary Education from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks; did undergraduate work in religious education through Avilla College, Kansas City, Mo., and earned a Master in Religious Studies from Fort Wright College, Spokane, Wash.

God and teaching are the great loves of Sister Patricia’s life. She began teaching right out of the novitiate at St. Mary’s grade school in Bismarck. She taught at Christ the King school, Mandan, for 12 years and again at St. Mary’s as director of religious education for 23 years. Sister Patricia feels children bring a wonderful dimension to her life. “I just love little kids; they are so joyful and creative; I learn a lot from them.”

When the sisters moved to their new home just south of the University of Mary in 2000, Sister Patricia accepted Prioress Sister Susan Berger’s invitation to serve as subprioress, a role she fulfilled for eight years. She also became the director of the oblates of Annunciation Monastery, a group of people of varied faiths who desire to associate with a monastery and live according to the Rule of St. Benedict. She volunteered faithfully at St. Mary’s Grade School where she helped children with reading.

Sister Patricia served on the St. Alexius Board of Directors, on the University of Mary Board of Trustees, Annunciation Monastery’s monastic council, and is a certified spiritual director and retreat director.

Sister Patricia feels fulfilled daily by the richness of communal and personal prayer. As she reflects on the past 60 years, she explains, “To live with others who seek God together and support one another on the journey to God, is a blessing. We love one another, we have fun, and we live the Gospel values. Each day is a new beginning to grow in God’s love.”

 Sister Gerard Wald, OSB – 60th Jubilee

“I look on my life as a gift from God for which I am deeply grateful.”

As Sister Gerard Wald celebrates her 60th year as a Benedictine Sister of Annunciation Monastery, she recalls the journey to fulfill her vocation. She was born and raised on a farm south of Napoleon, N.D., the youngest of 11 children born to the late Stanislaus and Katherine Wald. She attended a country school and said Mass was very much a part of their lives.

Sister Gerard credits the German priest from her home parish with encouraging her vocation as a sister. “He talked vocations all the time and interwove that into his homilies, stressing the importance for children and families to consider religious life and the priesthood.” She says, “I remember dreaming about being a sister and a nurse. The tug in my heart would come and go, but it would never go away.

Although she had never been away from home before, Sister Gerard felt an incredible sense of peace when she came to Bismarck to attend Priory High School. “I never questioned if this was the right vocation for me because, in a deep sense, it always felt right.”

Sister Gerard earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Mary, Bismarck; a Master of Science in Nursing from St. Louis University, St. Louis, Mo.; a Master in Management from the University of Mary; and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, Winona, Minn.

Her varied ministries include starting the printing department at St. Alexius. She loved that line of work but still felt called to be a nurse. Sister Gerard began the nursing program and was residence director at the University of Mary, and worked as a nurse at St. Alexius. After graduating from St. Louis University, she directed and coordinated staff and patient education at St. Alexius for two years and then became coordinator of adult education services at the University of Mary, a position she held for 15 years. She loved her ministries as director of student volunteers at the university and as vocation director at Annunciation Monastery. Sister Gerard served on the monastery sponsorship team, the St. Alexius board of directors and many committees at the University of Mary.

Sister Gerard says the most rewarding aspects of being a Benedictine and living in community are liturgical and personal prayer, sharing in the joys and struggles of other community members, and being a part of a group of women who sponsor the works of the church through healthcare at CHI St. Alexius Health, the University of Mary, and Ministry on the Margins. Her joyful spirit shines through as she says, “I look on my life as a gift from God for which I am deeply grateful!”