In Memoriam: Constance Sonnen

2009news_csonnenSister Constance Sonnen
1929 – 2009

Sr. Constance (Betty Jane) Sonnen, OSB, died peacefully on February 12, 2009, at the Monastery of St. Gertrude, Cottonwood, ID.

Born in Greencreek, ID, to Albine and Olivia (Sarbacher) Sonnen on May 17, 1929, Sr. Connie entered the Monastery of St. Gertrude on August 28, 1946. She was professed there on March 19, 1948 and celebrated her Golden Jubilee on July 11, 1998.

Sr. Connie graduated from St. Gertrude’s Academy in 1947. She attended Mt. Angel Women’s College and the College of St. Gertrude and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from St. Martin’s College, Lacey, WA, in 1963. She taught in parochial schools in Idaho for 35 years, including 18 years at Bishop Kelly High School, Boise. A much loved teacher at Bishop Kelly, she also served as Librarian and as moderator of the Pep Club, the Drill Team and the cheerleaders.

In 1985, she returned to the Monastery to serve as Procurator and Kitchen Manager. She then taught ten years at Prairie Middle School. She discovered that her perseverance in solving mysteries through detailed research served community well in her next role as Monastery Archivist. She delighted in uncovering the hidden lives of sisters in the community’s past and sharing their stories.

A many talented woman, Sr. Connie enjoyed life as she generously shared her gifts with people of all ages. She used her skills in cooking to create wonderful barbecues, turkey dinners and fresh strawberry pies. Her fishing endeavors often provided fresh fried fish to delight her sisters in the monastery infirmary or to enjoy with other fisher-people around the campfire.

Sr. Connie is fondly remembered by a multitude of students. She loved teaching and made learning fun for everyone, herself included. Good humor sprinkled the content of her lessons and her life.

Sr. Connie was preceded in death by her parents, brother Marvin and sister Leona. She is survived by her monastic community, and siblings Everett, Ronald, Delmer, Leroy, Robert, Marjorie, Gladys and their families.

A vigil service was held in the monastery chapel on February 15, 7:00 pm. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated there on February 16, 1:30 pm, with Fr. Eamonn McNerney, Monastery Chaplain, presiding. Fr. Meinrad Schallberger, Monastery of the Ascension, Jerome, ID, was the homilist. A memorial Mass was held for Sr. Connie at St. Mary’s Parish, Boise, on February 17, 7:00 pm.

Memorials may be made to Monastery of St. Gertrude, 465 Keuterville Road, Cottonwood, ID 83522.