In Memoriam: Sister Jeanette von Herrmann, OSB

January 4, 1946 – June 6, 2019

“God is still in our midst and calling us by the Spirit to a life of faith.”

Sister Jeanette von Herrmann, OSB, was born into eternal life at 8:20 p.m. on June 6, 2019. She was 73 years old and had been a Benedictine sister for 38 years. Sister Jeanette will be remembered for her gift of hospitality to hosted groups at Spirit Center, her ability to relate to every member of the community, and deep love of Benedictine life.

Sister Jeanette was born Joanne to her parents Otto and Doris in San Francisco, California, on January 4, 1946. She grew up in San José, California, where she attended public elementary schools and Catholic high school. She attended Marymount Palos Verdes College for two years. She entered religious life at the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary on September 8, 1965, making First Profession on May 25, 1968, and Final Profession on September 8, 1973. Because of a strong desire to live monastic life, she transferred to Queen of Angels Monastery in Mt. Angel, Oregon, in June 1979; she had met the community while attending summer school at Mt. Angel Seminary, graduating with a master’s degree in theology in 1979. At Queen of Angels she made Monastic Profession on August 15, 1981.

Sister Jeanette’s ministries over the years include teaching elementary and high school and serving as director of admission at Marymount Palos Verdes College, pastoral associate at St. Joseph Parish in Cupertino, California, and director of religious education at St. Paul Parish in Silverton, Oregon. She also gave retreats at Shaom Prayer Center in Mt. Angel, Oregon. From 1987 to 1995, she was a graduate student in biblical studies at Catholic University, Washington, D.C., where she also served as department secretary. She was elected prioress of Queen of Angels Monastery in 1995 and served until 1999. In 1999, she went back to Washington, D.C., to write her dissertation on the Book of Esther and was awarded a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies/Old Testament in May 2004. When she returned to Queen of Angels in 2008, she engaged in various ministries. In 2015 she served as oblate director and secretary/treasurer for Queen of Angels Monastery and its subsidiary corporations.

In September 2016 Sister Jeanette sought permission to begin her journey to transfer to the Monastery of St. Gertrude, Cottonwood, Idaho, where she prayed, lived, and worked until her untimely death. During her years at St. Gertrude’s, she served as hostess to hosted groups at the Spirit Center, gave a popular retreat entitled “The Spirituality of Seuss,” and assisted the Spirit Center team with spiritual direction and hospitality. She also served as chair of the LISTEN III Committee for revisions to St. Gertrude’s constitutions.

For readers of Spirit and Life, she will be remembered for her monthly humorous and insightful articles. In the May-June 2019 issue she wrote on hope: “We can have faith and hope in who God is. We don’t hope for things, events, weather, friends, and so many things that we think we want or need. We do hope for God, God’s blessings of grace, God’s life for us. It’s not a what that we hope for, but a who that we hope in…..We may not see the One in whom we hope, but God is still in our midst and calling us by the Spirit to a life of faith” (5-6, 9).  We trust that she sees that God, in whom she hoped, and is enjoying the blessings of eternal life with her parents and many friends, who went before her to God.

Sister Jeanette was especially present to the seniors on St. Gertrude’s assisted living wing, spending time with them, taking them on shopping trips, and enjoying the antics of the second floor therapy pet “Stormy” the cat. On Thursday evenings she often joined the “Loosely Knit” group of sisters and oblates for knitting and crocheting and sharing together.

Sister Jeanette is survived by her two brothers Joseph and his wife Sandy of Sonora, California, and Jim and his wife Suzanne of Savannah, Georgia —and her monastic community at the Monastery of St. Gertrude. The Rosary Vigil will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 21, and the Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday, July 22 — both will take place in the Monastery of St. Gertrude Chapel. A reception will follow. Memorial gifts can be made to the Monastery of St. Gertrude, 465 Keuterville Road, Cottonwood, Idaho, 83522 or online.