Interview with Sister Mary Daniel
Conducted by Mary Kay Miller Feist (MF)
28 July 1998, Mankato, MN
Transcription by Chad Burrer
Editing by Laura Elt
MF: Today is July 28th, 1998. I am Mary K. Miller
Feist, a volunteer interviewer from the Germans from Russia Heritage
Collection at the North Dakota State University Libraries in Fargo.
It is a pleasure to be here visiting with Sister Mary Daniel in
Good Council, Mankato, MN. Sister Mary Daniel grew up around the
Hague, ND area. Sister, could you give me your chosen name?
ML: Sister Mary Daniel Leintz.
MF: Why did you choose this name?
ML: Because I have a favorite brother that I grew
up with who is right next to me in age and his name is Daniel,
and so I chose Daniel.
MF: What is your date of birth?
ML: November 7th, 1925.
MF: Where were you born? At home? Was there a midwife
ML: I was born at home and there was a midwife who
later became my stepmother.
MF: Can you tell me your nationality?
ML: German from Russia.
MF: And what is your father’s name?
ML: Lawrence Leintz.
MF: Would you spell the last name for me?
MF: And how about your mother?
ML: As far as I know, she was born here in America.
MF: Okay, can you give her name?
ML: Elizabeth Fischer.
MF: Elizabeth Fischer. Okay, how many brothers and
sisters do you have?
ML: Eight brothers and six sisters.
MF: So you come from a large family. Where are you
in the order of birth in the family?
ML: I am the 14th one.
MF: Were there any other family members or relatives
that entered the convent?
ML: Um hum. I had two sisters that entered. They’re
quite a bit older than I am. They were in the upper bracket of
MF: Tell us about your support that your parents
gave you for joining the Sisterhood.
ML: My mother was dead even before – I was
only eight years old when she died, but my father had lots to
do. In fact, he had everything to do with it. On his death bed
he asked if I would become a Sister like my other two sisters.
And I said, “No, never.” I never wanted to be a Sister.
MF: Did the Holy Scripture and prayer play alot
of – did you have alot in your home?
ML: Yes we did, but I don’t know. I can’t
really say that that helped me to decide. It was more the wish
of my father later on that this came to me.
MF: Did the pastor influence your decision in any
ML: He brought me down and he thought if I’d
see the place, I’d change my mind, which I did.
MF: I know this from the part of the tape that we
talked before. When you came down, you came down for a visit.
ML: I came for a visit just to see my older sister
that was working in the diet kitchen here; just to be with her,
to get to know her. My other sister was at Mt. Mary. And this
was during the summer. I came around the end of August, beginning
of July I think that’s what it was because I did enter the
14th of July, not with the other postulates. I entered by myself,
alone, with the other candidates, postulates that were in there.
MF: And what age were you?
ML: I was 15 then.
MF: So you were quite a distance from your family.
ML: Very much so; far away.
MF: How did you let your family know that you wanted
to join the Sisterhood?
ML: Well, I wrote home, which would consist of my
stepmother because everyone else was gone and told her that I
wouldn’t be back. That I would join the S’s &
MF: How many were in your class when you joined?
ML: There were 13 others. So there were 14 of us.
MF: Did all 14 go through all the stages to become
ML: Yes, up to final vows.
MF: Up to final vows, okay. What was the typical
daily schedule at the convent? What did you do in the morning?
What did you do in the afternoon, evenings?
ML: Well, it wasn’t too much different than
what I grew up with. Alot of discipline, but I had that as a child
as I was growing up. So we got up, dressed, came down for Morning
Prayer, which we did at home also. Then we had instructions: scripture,
formation, whatever. Dinner, more prayer, you could maybe be by
yourself for a bit. I happened to go to the kitchen to work, so
I was in the kitchen all day. I don’t know what the others
did. I was the only one that did home service at that time because
I didn’t have any education then. And so I worked in a kitchen
which was my way of spending my day, which was very heavy at the
time because I was so young yet. Those heavy pots were not easy
MF: I know when we went down and toured the kitchen,
they were saying that they remembered such huge, huge pots.
ML: Roasters were this big, this high, and you lifted
those. I mean you had to; there was nobody else there to do it
MF: How was your communication continued with your
parents after you got here? Were you able to communicate alot?
ML: My parents were dead so I didn’t have
anything to communicate.
MF: How about with your brothers and sisters?
ML: Yes, yes. And they were very wonderful. As your
brother who says, “You know, sis, if you don’t like
it where you are, you can come to my house. This would be your
MF: Was he still living around the area where you
ML: Yes, at that time he was.
MF: Okay, did you keep in touch with alot of your
friends from back home? You were awfully young when you came in.
ML: No, I did not. I really didn’t.
MF: Would you describe the stages of becoming a
nun, starting with the postulant?
ML: When I entered, I was young and they told me
I’d be a postulant for three years because I had to be 18
and that was fine with me. I didn’t care how long I’d
be a postulant, just so I was in at the time. But after two years,
I was received for various reasons. So I was a novice for a year;
I was seventeen. So I was eighteen when I was professed, after
a year novitiate. And then, you had three years of temporary vows.
You took your vows and you had three years of temporary vows.
And then three years later, you took final vows. That’s
the formation at that time.
MF: Could you describe to me the final vows ceremony?
How it was performed?
ML: I guess the big thing I can remember is the
pall we were under after we pronounced our vows and also I would
say the dress that – we changed from the white to the black
veil. We also got the thorn crown. You know, in reception in novitiate,
we got the rose crown. Now we got the thorn crowns, showing us
that this light is not the easiest light in the world, but if
you do it for Jesus, he will be with you. So that was the idea.
And then under the pall, we really renounced everything that we
had. Like if we had any, you know, monies or anything, you know,
that family has given. That was all renounced and handed over.
MF: After you were here, did you – you came
in young. What did you do for education? How much schooling did
you get here?
ML: I did not. I was not educated right away. I
did home services. I said before, I did cooking, laundry. I did
alot of host baking; just many, many things. And then, later on,
they asked if I would teach. And my older sister said, “She’s
not going to teach unless she gets her education.” And that’s
when I started to finish my high school. I had started high school.
I finished two different courses. I finished my high school and
my college, which took me 17 years, but those 17 years, I also
MF: Was your older sister you’re referring
to one of those sisters that lived here?
ML: Yes, she died three years ago.
MF: Where were you first stationed? What was your
first assignment after you were certified to teach?
ML: St. Peter, MN. I did have one year of kindergarten
in Worthington, but I kind of discounted that because I didn’t
like it. But I went to St. Peter and that’s were I had 57
children in first grade. I was there two years and then I went
to St. Agnes in St. Paul for six years. Went to , MN for two
more years and then coming back to St. Agnes for four more years.
Then I took – I didn’t do this on the other tape,
but it just came to me now. They gave me a year off to study.
So I did that, then I went to Sacred Heart and taught there ten
years. In between there, I got my certificate, you know, my degree.
Then I took a sabbatical and then I went to , Mississippi
for spiritual renewal, and the other half of the year I worked
up here in health care. And then I was sent to Northfield. I was
asked if I would like to teach some more and I did. So I went
to Northfield and taught for six years and then I came up here
to do pastor care work.
MF: Sounds like you have been very, very busy. Are
there any experiences that you’d like to share that were
one of those first few years you went out teaching?
ML: Yes, I didn’t know how to teach. Nobody
ever showed me.
MF: I bet that was a challenge.
ML: It was a challenge, but I just loved it. I just
picked everything up.
MF: Kind of learned as you went along?
ML: Yes, and it was surprising because the supervisor
when I was at St. Agnes said that I needed my certificate for
– not certificate, but credits for student teaching. So
I says, “Fine, come in any time.” You know, I was
not a bit afraid because I was going to do just what I always
did, and she gave me A+ for student teaching. So that was consoling,
knowing that I was doing what I was supposed to do.
MF: And if you enjoy what you’re doing and
it reflects on your performance.
ML: Yes, I think so, um hum.
MF: Okay, um, after school hours, what were some
of the activities that you were involved in; in church and in
ML: Well, as I said, the first 17 years, I studied.
That’s all I did. I just have to do that to get my credits.
Otherwise, I’m a walker. I walk at least three, four miles
every morning and so I’ve walked for years and years. I
love to do it. I do crafts; I’m a crocheter. I did alot
of bedspreads and table clothes, doilies, and what have you. So
I love to read, I love music, real fine, soft music.
MF: Comforting, kind of relaxing?
ML: Right, I do, yah.
MF: When you first came into the convent, you had
– I don’t know what you call it?
ML: The big, stiff veil with a wimple, right.
MF: And then you went to the . . .
ML: V-shaped one.
MF: After that, you got to wear street clothes?
How did you feel about that? Was that quite a change for you?
ML: It was a very big change. Even some of my little
first graders, when I told them I’d look a little bit different
the next day, they didn’t want to come to school. I had
some calls, saying, you know, we want our Sister. We don’t
want her to look any different. So that kind of was a jar to me,
but I just kind of put that aside. I thought, “I have to
live.” You know, I can’t be doing what somebody else
wishes me to do. So, I just changed overnight and I was in street
clothes the next day.
MF: So you found out and then you just decided that
you were going to make the change right away?
ML: Yes, and we could do it a period of time, any
time you know. So I just did it because I knew the change was
here and it seemed to be for the better because not only us, but
many other congregations were doing the same thing and I knew
it was something we needed to do.
MF: Okay, what are some of the biggest changes from
when you first came in and joined the Sisterhood to now?
ML: I would say the clothes, yes, would be one.
Also, I think a change of our rules that we could be more ourselves
of who we are. That kind of a freedom, you know. Not that you
would all run around, but you were kind of more free; you weren’t
held on a leash so much or supervised. You know, you could live.
You know, it was a big change. Also, I would say the liturgy.
That was a lift for me because I didn’t like Latin and I
couldn’t understand it and I could never understand why
we were doing it. And I questioned in my mind, however I never
said anything because I knew we couldn’t do anything about,
but when the change came, I just went all for it. You know, that
was up my alley.
MF: Changing over to the English?
MF: Okay Sister, I would like to visit with you
now about some of your childhood memories. When you were at home,
what language was the main language spoken at your house?
MF: German. Can you still speak the language fluently
ML: No, not fluently. I know a few words and I can
understand them if it’s my dialect and if it isn’t
my dialect, I can not understand it. I couldn’t keep a conversation.
MF: Did you speak, do you think, more the High German
or the Low German?
MF: The Low German?
MF: What were some of your childhood chores? What
were some of the things that you had to do around the house, around
ML: We had to help with everything that we did:
the cooking, get things for Mom when she made bread. You know,
her hands were in the big dish and we, you know, helped her. We
collected manure for our fuel and, probably, I didn’t say
this on the other tape, but last night when I was in bed I thought,
“I’m going to share this.” You probably you
know about the cow manure, but the horse manure was a little different
because the boys would collect it and go beyond the farm a little
bit and put it there and after they had a quite a bit there, they
would take team of horses and they would trample that down. It
was all in a circle, press it down. And then another layer, and
another layer. So it became about, I would say like five inches
or so. Five or six inches deep. Then they let it dry a little
bit, then they cut it in blocks and when it dried a little bit
in between, they lifted it up and that’s were we came in.
You know, we didn’t care if it was on our hands. I mean,
this was fuel we were doing. This was important. So we stood it
up so it would dry underneath and then maybe a weak later, we
would put it in bigger piles, maybe about this high to let the
air go through some more. It had to be dry all the way through.
Then, it was put onto like a long straw pile. It was put on there
kind of crisscrossed so the air could get through. Then, we had
to cover it because of the snow storms. How to do it? Well, put
straw in a barrel and manure, and you mixed it with your hands
and that was my job. And my stepmother didn’t think I would
ever do that. Well it made no difference to me because I was collecting
manure from little on. So I mixed all that, just like you mix
bread. And then that was used for a covering for that manure that
was spilled on a – like a haystack, you know. And it became
like clay. There was no way that the wind could go through or
snow or rain and when we did get the manure and bring it into
the house, we had to use a chopper to chop that off. And we just
did a little bit at a time so the snow wouldn’t get in.
Now that was like coal. Like if Mother did alot of baking, then
Dad said we could use that because it burned longer. It was just
like coal. And sometimes he even used it for night. You know,
to heat the radiators upstairs. So that’s something I wanted
MF: I’m glad you did because I’ve never
ML: You never heard that before. Alot of people
that I talk to that have asked me about my childhood and I share
that. You’ve never heard of that. You’ve heard of
ML: You know, you stack that up too you know, or
bring it in. But you never heard of horse manure. And it seems
as though, when I look back now, that my father didn’t want
to waste one thing, ever. Not even that. Like the corn cobs that
the pigs, you know, chewed the corn off.; the next day, we collected
that. That was a chore. Again, we collected that and burned it.
Now granted they burned fast, but it still helped us to –
we had no wood, so you had to use something, you know. So we collected
those and brought them in.
MF: But you were kept quite busy.
ML: I was very busy all day long. And then another
thing, we were sent out to kill gophers because they harmed our
fields and we got a penny for a tail.
MF: And I bet there were alot of gophers? North
Dakota seems to have quite a few. Did you help alot in the house
ML: I was kind of small when my mother was living
yet. You know, she died when I was eight and a half, so. I helped
her around the house, but then a little later, when I was a little
older and my mother died when my dad remarried and I had a stepmother,
she taught me how to sew, how to cook, how to do many things.
MF: So who did you learn to crochet from?
ML: I learned it by myself. No one showed me because
I’m left handed and no one could show me so I learned it
just by looking at a book. And now I’ve taught many others
MF: Great, that’s great that you can pass
that on. I know my grandmother crocheted and I wish I would have
had her teach me how to do it. The ones that do it just make it
look so easy. I mean, like there’s nothing to it. But, yah,
I wish I would have learned. I’d like to talk about where
you went to school. Could you tell us were that was?
ML: I went to a country school three miles from
home and it was – we had maybe about 10-11 students at the
time, that I remember. I went there up to the sixth grade.
MF: And was it, um, a one-room school house where
grades – whatever, one through twelve?
ML: Yes. All the grades, right – no, one to
MF: One to eight?
MF: What was the language that was usually spoken
ML: German, until the teacher caught us. Nobody
wanted the English language because we didn’t know it, you
know. We hardly understood what they were saying.
MF: Was the teacher able to speak German?
ML: I don’t remember that. I had never heard
her [speak German].
MF: What are some of your special memories about
your childhood school? Can you think of anything that kind of
sticks out in your mind that you can remember?
ML: Yah, I remember, especially my brothers, you
know, that went to school with me at the time – I think
there were two or three. They would always throw snowballs at
us. That was awful. You know, they would put us into the outhouse
because we needed shelter because those snowballs were coming
at us. So they were throwing it so they were at the school door
so we always got late and then we were punished.
MF: What kind of a punishment did you get?
ML: I don’t remember that, no. I think it
was extra school work. It seems to me that’s what it was,
extra homework because we missed.
MF: What were some of the playground games, recesses?
What did you do at those times?
ML: Jacks, we played jacks. We played jump rope;
we played catch, tag, antie antie over. Just the fun things that
they do now. We had no playground equipment, none whatsoever.
That I remember. Completely empty.
MF: No swings?
ML: Yes, just the outhouse and I remember one shed
and we used to take that for shelter when the boys were after
us. But otherwise, there was nothing else but that one room and
an outhouse. That was it.
MF: Can you remember anything about your teacher?
Does anything come to mind?
ML: I remember a teacher that I had for four years
and I just loved her. And we did this: the parents would invite
the teacher to out to the farm for the weekend and every family
would take a turn. And if a family said no, then we were glad
because we could invite her again.
MF: So you go an extra turn.
ML: That was a real joy for me, yah. To have my
teacher in the house, that was great.
MF: So she could just come into your house?
ML: Um hum. And be with us, eat with us. Yah, she
had a room by herself because we had a very big house. We had
four bedrooms upstairs.
MF: Quite a treat to have the teacher come to visit
MF: I’d like to talk now about some of your
spiritual upbringing. Was religion and church and education –
did that inspire you in alot of ways? Was it a big inspiration
in your family?
ML: It was, yes, but not to inspire me to become
a religious, no. But I’m sure, looking back now, if I wouldn’t
have had that, I’m just wondering if I’d be here,
you know? We had prayer, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer; we had
Rosary during Lent, kneeling around the kitchen table and up straight
– that was a biggy for my father. And if we weren’t,
he would be right there to remind us we kneel up straight and
fold our hands. We also had scripture reading. We had a Bible
– not a Bible, but a book of All Saints, and everyday he
would read a Saint, you know, the life of a Saint. Also, he received
a paper in the mail that was a continuation story, and this was
all in German. He read in German.
MF: In German?
ML: Yah, script. He was fluent.
MF: And you understood it all?
ML: Sure, we understood everything, yes. And I remember
– this is really an aside now. When he’d do that,
I’d gradually crawl through the radiator, you know, and
the boys had their mittens and caps on them and that looked so
soft to me you know. And all of a sudden I’d be up there
on top of the radiator you know and then he was busy reading and
he’d see me up there. I remember that, yah.
MF: How often did you go to church services and
what was the language spoken at your Masses?
ML: It was, I imagine, Latin, but then any instructions
or anything was all German, yes. We went Sundays, confessions.
Otherwise, we didn’t go during the week because it’s
five miles [away]. And I guess we were the first that I remember,
I don’t remember of any body else having a car.
MF: So you had a car?
ML: We had an old Chevy back when I grew up, yah,
that the boys sometimes used to go out. We also had a pony, so
they could also use the pony to go someplace in the evening after
MF: Okay, let’s talk about some holidays.
How was Christmas celebrated in your family? What did you do for
Christmas Day, Christmas Eve?
ML: I don’t remember much of that, except
the preparation before Christmas. My mother wanted to decorate
a little bit with a little fake tree and putting the little candles
on it. I couldn’t wait to get that lit and just to see that
with little gifts around. We also had St. Nick coming which was
one of my brothers you know, and then we’d get – well,
it was a riot. It was riot. We’d all hide under the bed
because we were ready to spank us, you know. But that was a big
looking anticipation, looking forward to having St. Nick come.
See, we didn’t know it was one of my brothers until later
on you know.
MF: Right. Was alot of baked goods prepared for
ML: Oh, absolutely. Just real – and I remember
Dad coming home with a big sack of nuts and a hard tack candy;
that old-time candy was in there. It was a mixture. No chocolates,
but that’s all part – oh, it was such a joy when mother
would go in and get a big bowl full and set it on the kitchen
table. That was a treat I tell you.
MF: Enjoyed by all, I’m sure.
ML: By everyone, yes.
MF: What were some of the things that were baked?
ML: Cookies. Of course, bread. Nobody wanted anything
but bread. It was so good. Now I can’t eat it.
MF: Did your stepmother – was baking bread
kind of a daily thing?
ML: Yup, daily, yes.
MF: You said you had a large family so I’m
sure . . .
ML: It’s when my mother died, before my dad
remarried, I did the baking. I was eight and a half.
MF: You made the bread?
ML: I made the bread.
MF: Oh gosh, every day?
ML: Every day.
MF: How many loaves did you have to make every day?
ML: Oh, about eight or nine.
MF: Being you had the big family, you were busy.
What kind of musical entertainment did you have in your home?
ML: We really didn’t have any. I don’t
remember any singing until my brother Daniel began to start on
the piano, to doodle around on that. And finally he really played
something that he had heard. He could do it by note. And then
I used to stand next to him and sing. And then he’d sing
with me. That was about the only thing that I remember about music
because there was no radio, no television. Except going to church
and singing in church. I belonged to the choir from little on.
MF: Did you do any dancing?
MF: Where did you do your dancing?
ML: In the dance hall, just a small dance hall.
I didn’t want to, but my brother, more or less, said, “Yes,
you are going. I’m older than you are.” So he showed
me how and I’m so appreciative that he did and I loved it.
MF: What are some of the dances that you learned?
ML: Polkas, most of it, and waltzes, two-step, foxtrot.
MF: Where would you go to these dances when you
ML: In the dance hall right there at Hague.
MF: In Hague?
ML: Yah, we didn’t go out of town, never.
MF: How often were there dances? How often were
you able to go?
ML: Maybe once a month. That’s about it.
MF: Was there a large number of people that would
come to these dances?
ML: Quite a few, yah. Even from Strasburg, I know
they came, Linton when they heard. And same thing when Linton
or Strasburg would have a dance, you know, the people from Hague
would go over (the farming area).
MF: Did you have bands playing?
MF: Do you remember any of the names of the bands?
ML: No, the only one that I remember is Lawrence
Welk. That’s the only one I remember. I got to see him sit
up on stage. And I remember one time – I don’t know
if this was Lawrence Welk’s band or not, I have not recollection,
but I was dancing with my brother Daniel and the pianist got sick.
And they said, “Is there anyone in the audience, in the
dance floor that can play?” Nobody went, so he went. There
I stood, so I went home. I was so embarrassed.
MF: You didn’t have a partner huh? What kind
of games or puzzles did you play as a child?
ML: I think I mentioned jacks before. Jump rope
– alot of jump rope with my friends like Sunday afternoons.
Playing in the shed where the wheat was, hiding. You know, getting
yourself hid and they’d have to find you under the big piles
of – that was a fun thing. Or in the hayloft, crawling in
the hayloft. And I remember a little later on, we had bales of
hay so it was fun just to play tag in there or to hide from someone.
MF: How about playing cards?
ML: Very much so, yes. But see, I was too little,
so I just stood and watched. Like we played poof rank [?, 350].
I don’t remember that is. I don’t remember it anymore.
We played whist, which I still play. But those were the only two
games that I remember that they played.
MF: Was it usually with family members or did friends
ML: Friends came over. And my parents would go some
night and play with them.
MF: Were you allowed to go along?
ML: No, never. We were glad because we could make
candy. This was another good thing to share I think, would be.
Mother would come home – I remember one time my brother
Jake and I, we had the fudge [and] somebody else had the taffy
and somebody else had divinity. So Jake and I had fudge, but we
heard the car come in before the fudge was finished, so he ran
it downstairs. He said, “We can eat it tomorrow.”
So the next day, I would gradually come to the kitchen, get a
spoon, hid it behind me, ran downstairs, and had fudge. I had
to scoop it in. And then later on, Jake would do the same thing.
And then we’d tell the others, you know, if you take a spoon
we had downstairs, you could have some fudge and so we kept doing.
And finally, I guess my mother got tired of that. She said, “I’m
just wondering how good it tastes?” So mother didn’t
know. And I remember saying to her, “Mom, how did you know?”
She said, “I looked at the sugar bag.”
MF: She could tell there was sugar missing?
MF: So she caught on to your little cooking. Do
you recall any home remedies or cures?
ML: The only one that I recall is liniment that
my father would sip. He’d heat it with some water and he
had asthma so I would just think that it felt good on his throat,
that’s why. Some of the family members used to say he should
never do that, that’s too strong, but yet, he just didn’t
sit there and drink and drink. He just took little bit at a time
and at that time – I just smelled it, but I didn’t
know what it was for. Another thing is my mother had headaches
very badly and she used to steam some water and let that steam
go on her face and head to relieve it. I don’t know if it
did or not, but she couldn’t stand the pain. But those were
the only two remedies that I remember.
MF: I would like you to tell me about your First
Communion. I think you had a really good story to share about
that. So would you tell me about that please?
ML: I do not recall that I was excited about my
dress or veil or shoes or , whatever. The big excitement
was the wreath of roses that my sister received and we talked
about that previously when she became a novice. That’s what
we got to wear; for three days we could wear it. And she had sent
it home and my mother framed it and I used to ask her what that
was. Well, I didn’t understand. I couldn’t understand.
And when it was my communion year, she said if I am a good girl,
that she would take that out and I could wear that for my First
Holy Communion. Well I tell you, I was the best child in the whole
farming area because I wanted to wear that because I just loved
it. It was light pink and it had pretty flowers on it. Oh, it
was so beautiful. And so, that was the biggest thrill; that I
could wear it for communion. Another time I could wear it was
for Corpus Christi. The children could dress up like their First
Communion time. And mother said I could wear it again. So for
a number of years I could wear it for Corpus Christi which was
real wonderful for me.
MF: Is that the time that you made the flowers out
of the crepe paper?
MF: Would you tell us about that?
ML: Mother had a beautiful basket and she decorated
with crepe paper. Fringes on it; it was just so beautiful. I can
just see it. And then my job was to cut all those papers for flowers
and so I’d fill it with that and then when it was time to
possess all of church, the girls – the communicants, the
boys too. The little boys and the little girls, they would line
up like two rows. You’d have a partner with their baskets
right in front of the blessed sacrament. And then the two front
ones would come and strew flowers on the ground all the way down.
Then you’d genuflect and go in back of the line. That was
so beautiful and alot of the color that I saw was in my crown
you know, my crown of roses. And I just thought if I really matched,
and I was so proud to do this. It was a real thrill.
MF: Oh, with something that you really enjoyed doing
and seemed to have many good memories about. Okay Sister, are
there any other thoughts or observation, stories, anything that
you can remember yet that you would like to share with us? Things
that you think we’d like to know about you or about your
background, your home life, your life here at Mankato?
ML: There’s so many things, but you know,
unless someone asks a question, you can’t recall, you know.
So I don’t know what else I could share. There are many
more things. Like I had quite a social life before I came so I
felt that I didn’t need it. I didn’t need that; that
I wanted something different. I wanted to give my tolls out to
MF: So you felt you had the opportunity to visit
with friends, visit with family, go out to these dances, that
you were ready to do something new and coming to the Sisterhood
is what you chose?
ML: That’s right. And I never doubted it even
though I was very young.
MF: And you came about it in such an unusual way.
Just coming to visit and ending up staying.
ML: And not knowing that I would be accepted. I
just presumed that I’d go in and be done with it. You know,
I didn’t know. And I was. And I remember Mother Nanciata
was the superior and remember kneeling in front of her and saying
“Mother,” because that’s what everybody said.
I don’t know why we called her mother. She wasn’t
my mother, but I did it because I had heard somebody else say
it. [I said,] “I want to be a Sister, now!” I remember
saying, “Now”. And she said, “Are you sure?
I don’t think you’re ready yet.” “Now,”
I kept saying. I wanted it now.
MF: You were young, very young.
ML: I was only 15 and that’s why she kept
probing me and saying, “Are you sure?” you know. But
see, those words that my father said on his death bed came back
and kept saying “you must be a Sister, you must be a Sister.”
And that really stuffled me. You know I tried to put it away,
but it didn’t work see. I kept saying, “I’m
never going to be a Sister.” But see, it kept coming and
to me, it was God’s call. I see it as a call from God direct.
MF: Did you have any of these feelings for the calling
while you were at home?
ML: Never. Oh my, no. And my two sisters came home
when my mother died. In fact, they were home quite a while because
she was in coma and they could stay until she either died or get
well. So they were home quite a while. That’s the first
time I had ever seen them and I thought, “Oh, they look
awful. I never want to dress like that.”
MF: Did they have the black . . .
ML: The big one, yes. And so the next time they
came home, they were still in that big one when my father got
sick. That’s the only time I had ever seen them. So I really
never  either of that.
MF: Until you were up here? Then you got to know
them a little bit better?
ML: That’s right, that’s right.
MF: You said that they were so much older back when
you were at home. You didn’t really have alot of communication
and they left, I’m sure, home before you really got to know
ML: Only the communication and you could only write
so often you know. Christmas and Easter, that was it. So we never
heard much from them at all.
MF: And when they joined, they weren’t allowed
alot of home visits. I think it was when the mother died and the
ML: That was it. And then when I entered, I was
told that I could never go home because my parents were dead.
Even though I had a step-mother, I couldn’t go home for
her because she was not my real mom. So I was told that –
and yet, it made no difference. And when I was postulant, when
I had just entered, Sister Erma, who died three years ago, she
was at Mt. Mary and she did not know that I was on the hill. And
then I entered, and she still didn’t know. She had no idea
I was home and she only had seen me twice. And so when she came
in, the authority told the Sisters not to tell Sister Erma, let
her find out for herself. Well somebody did, and she was pretty
angry. She came up to the postulantsy and she took me in her room.
She hardly greeted me. She just, “What are you doing here?”
And I said, “I’m going to be a Sister like you.”
No big deal, you know. And she says, “Who cut your hair?”
See I had never had my hair cut before I came to enter. It was
real long and wavy and blonde. And that’s what she remembered.
She said, “Who cut that hair?” And I said, “Well,
Sister Mary.” She said I have to have it cut. I says, “Who
cares?” It didn’t bother me just because I have a
haircut. She was just too nice to me, I thought, then. However,
looking back, she was just trying me. I’m sure she was elated.
I know she was elated that to think her little sister is joining
the convent. You’re not going to fool me with that. And
so, yes, no matter what you’re going to say, you know, whoever
you are, I’m going to be a Sister. I’m in, so you
can’t do anything about me. You know, I’m here, I’m
here to stay. And so she was okay.
MF: She was okay with it then after she had tested
you. You passed the test, evidently.
ML: Oh, and you know, here’s another little
story with Sister Casta, the older one; was older than Sister
Erma just by a year and a half. They were next to each other in
age. She had to come home to take care of me when I was born and
she told me after I was in the postulantsy, she says “now
I can tell you.” I says, “What are you going to tell
me?” She said, “When you were born, and I had to come
home and stay home a year to take care of you, I promised the
Blessed Mother to pray the fifteen decades of the Rosary. It’s
 everyday that you become a Sister.”
MF: Her prayers were answered.
MF: Sister, could you tell me the name of the chosen
names of your two sisters that were here in the Sisterhood?
ML: The older one was Adolheight [sp? 560] and she
didn’t choose, she got that name: Sister Casta.
MF: Oh, she didn’t get to choose her name?
ML: She did not and she hated it ever after. It
was a relic of a saint that was put in the day before.
[End of Side one]
ML: [Some interruption] go back to Margaret; it’s
such a pretty name. She says, “Yah, I like it too, but there’s
so many Sister Margarets and why at my age do it.” And I
said, “I understand what you’re saying,” but
I didn’t care for Erma. Although it was more of common than
Adolheight. You know, Adolheight was just – but at that
time, Sister couldn’t change to go back. And she wouldn’t
have anyways. Casta was bad, but so was Adolheight.
MF: You never got back to North Dakota to do any
ML: No, never.
MF: You never did get back in the area?
ML: No. I never got back to take care of my things
back there. I didn’t care about that. Whatever was there,
they could throw away.
MF: Just left everything?
ML: Left everything.
MF: Thank you so much, Sister. You’ve shared
so many good stories; you’ve given us so much information.
I’m so glad I got to visit with you.
ML: Well thank you.
MF: Just wonderful. I hope it [the tape] works.
ML: You’re welcome.