Building Campaign

Dear friends,

Mary Forman

This is an exciting time for St. Gertrude’s. After 70 years, we are updating the residential wing to meet the needs of ministries into the future.

Here you will find a description of the building remodel project along with ongoing updates.

Thank you for partnering with us as we prepare for the next era of religious life here at St. Gertrude’s!


Sr. Mary Forman, O.S.B., Ph.D. 
Prioress [major superior]



Summer 2020 marks the centennial of the laying of the cornerstone of the chapel of the Monastery of St. Gertrude — which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Unlike much historic architecture, the St. Gertrude’s Chapel is still utilized for the purpose it was constructed. For nearly a century Benedictine sisters have gathered here for daily Mass and prayer, supporting ministries in education, healthcare, and pastoral care throughout Idaho and beyond. Both physically and symbolically, the chapel is the center of a flourishing community of sisters and those who are partners in ministry, including nearly 100 oblates (lay members) in nine area groups throughout the Northwest.

Our legacy of rich Benedictine spirituality and service began with the courageous and prayerful leadership of Mother Johanna Zumstein, Sister Magdalene Suter, and Sister Rosalia Ruebli who arrived in 1882 from a cloister in Sarnen, Switzerland. Immediately they began responding to the needs of the times, founding schools and growing the community. In their long history, the Benedictine sisters have established 14 schools and two hospitals and maintained an unwavering focus on prayer, hospitality, and spiritual care.

Now, we look toward a new century of ministry. Thousands of people visit our rural and forested monastery each year to renew at our retreat center, learn more about history at our museum, experience monastic life through the volunteer program, attend classical and sacred music concerts in our acoustically acclaimed chapel, join the sisters for liturgies, and more. Everything we do is guided by the Rule of Benedict that instructs us to receive all as Christ. We are consistently affirmed that our visitors are enriched with connection, tranquility, education, and deepening prayer. We continue to live and demonstrate with our lives the spirit of our founding sisters.

To prepare for the future, we are embarking on a major remodel of our Annex (shown above), the residential wing of the Monastery. Built in 1948, the Annex provided housing for sisters that mostly served in ministries away from home. Now, over seventy years later, the Annex is in need of updated plumbing and electrical as well as asbestos abatement. A six-month remodel project will begin in November 2020. 

In addition, individual rooms will be enlarged and will feature private bathrooms. (Currently there are common bathrooms on each floor.) The renovations will create an energy-efficient residence for those who live at the Monastery and coordinate ministries, which serve 20,000 guests, artists, and retreatants annually. With a deep commitment to the future of monastic life, according to the Rule of Benedict, we will welcome new vocations as well as Benedictine Cohousing Companions — and host sisters, volunteers, artists, and oblates in a contemporary monastery home. 

Project Goal:

Create a functional and safe monastery home — with a deep commitment to the future of monastic life and emerging new forms according to the Rule of Benedict. Renovation Fundraising Goal: $2.3 million

Project Description: 

~ Outdated mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems will be replaced and asbestos removed to meet contemporary building codes. ​

~ Residents will be provided with safe, convenient, and modern bathroom facilities adjoining living spaces.

~ We will transform our dormitory-style building into a permanent Benedictine residential community.  ​

~ Upgrades will reduce long-term operational costs in an energy-efficient residence.

We believe that nurturing a center of hospitality, beauty, and healing that truly welcomes every person is needed in this world, now more than ever. As always, we look forward to welcoming you to the Monastery of St. Gertrude.

September 23, 2020 Update

In July, with 80 percent of the funds raised, we began the public phase of the campaign. Thanks to you, we have raised another $82,055 to date. 

November 19, 2020 Update

~ On October 23 the sisters moved to the Spirit Center Retreat Center and on October 25 it was blessed.

~ In the dining room, the ceiling has been removed and the pipes are exposed. The floor is covered and protected. We have determined that asbestos abatement will be required there as well. Watch a video update.

~ 2nd Floor: Asbestos abatement of the floor is completed. The grinder is for removing the adhesive. The floor is now ready for demolition and core drilling. Watch a video update.

~ Asbestos abatement continues on the 3rd floor.

~ An evening crew has begun work to keep everything on schedule. 

~ We have raised $1,999,797 which brings us up to 86.9% of goal. We have 13% more to raise.

November 24, 2020 Update

~ First Floor dining room is free of asbestos and the plumbers are opening up the new chases.

~ Second floor has another small amount of asbestos to be removed. Most demolition is finished.

~ Next week begins the framing, electric, and plumbing. 

~ Fourth Floor is half-finished with the asbestos abatement. 

~ Demolition has begun on Fourth Floor.

~ We have raised $2 million!!!!

December 24, 2020 Update

We are at 92% of our goal! Thank you, everyone!

January 5, 2021 Update

Getting closer! As of today we are at 94% of our $2.3 million goal for our Residential Wing remodel project. Thank you to everyone who got us to this place. Dreams are coming true.

We are also moving into the drywall phase of the remodel.

February 17, 2021 Update

Main Floor: New 200 gallon water heater has arrived. 

Dining Room: Ceiling will be completed when the Dining Room is no longer needed for storage toward the end of the project.

Second Floor: Workers are finishing wainscotting and showers. Painting is mostly finished. They will start hanging sinks. Cabinets are being reinstalled and ready for new countertops. Workers are still prepping the floors for flooring installation.

Third Floor: Workers are finishing drywall and starting to paint. 

Fourth Floor:  Workers are finishing drywall.

Fifth floor: Workers are finishing the framing, electric, and plumbing. 

February 23, 2021: Celebrating Maintenance Team Projects

In addition to their other daily work, Calvin Bakie and Craig Hood of the Maintenance Team have undertaken several projects in support of the Annex renovation. Last summer they began refurbishing 77 medicine cabinets, sanding off old paint and applying new, automotive-grade paint. After the move in late October, they began building 68 bookcases and 68 towel bars. They also made hooks from the end pieces of their projects. These pictures show the various projects along with proud Director of Maintenance Sister Placida. Craig and Calvin’s incredible hard work, skill, and creativity will bless Monastery residents far into the future!

March 4, 2021: Progress

2nd Floor: Flooring installed and bath cabinets are going in. 

3rd Floor: Cabinets, plumbing, trim are being installed. 

4th Floor: Being painted. 

5th Floor: The drywall is almost finished.

March 11, 2021: Fundraising Completed!

FULLY FUNDED!!!! A grant proposal to the Murdock Trust has come through which means our Building Remodel Goal has been met. We would not be here without our generous donors who got us to 95%.

Read the full story…

March 12, 2021: Jo-Anne’s Morning Thoughts of Gratitude

Oblate Jo-Anne Zimmer is overseeing the historic renovation of the Annex. She woke up this morning with these thoughts of gratitude:

Thoughts on Nearing Completion

After years of planning, design and construction we are nearing completion! This has required the efforts of so many to make this possible!

Arnzen Construction and their team continues to power on!

The sisters and Leadership for their faith and to continue to practice Benedictine patience!

Gratitude for our donors and grantors encouraged by the Development Office team!

The cooks continue to provide great meals “down the hall”!

Sr. Carlotta and Maintenance continue to keep us safe during our travels!

Housekeeping gears up for the final move and an end to construction dust!

Sisters Placida and Rose for the team move!

We have gone from a 70 year-old building to a more modern space with the major highlights being:

  • Private bathrooms
  • Larger spaces
  • Double the storage
  • Safety features
  • Asbestos-free environment
  • Added insulation to the outside walls
  • Ceiling fans and new lighting in all rooms
  • Additional electrical outlets
  • Nine rooms for lay Benedictine co-housing residents
  • Upgraded phone and alarm systems
  • Mini-blinds for privacy and better climate control

It’s a Joy to watch this Spring into completion!  ~ Jo-Anne

April 21-22: Blessing Our Remodeled Home and Moving Back In

On Thursday, April 22, the sisters moved back in after the major renovation of our residential wing that began last November. The evening before, Sister Mary Forman led the community in blessing the remodeled rooms and the amazing housekeepers prepared the dining room for use. The project is on time and the results are beautiful. Thanks be to God!