In Memoriam: Sister Augustine Uhlenkott, OSB

imuhlenkottSister Augustine (Elsie) Uhlenkott, OSB, 98, died at the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, ID on August 27, 2002.

Sister Uhlenkott was born in Cottonwood to Joseph and Amalia Frei Uhlenkott on October 23, 1903, the third of six children. She made her Monastic Profession as a Benedictine Sister at the Monastery of St. Gertrude on August 15, 1921.

She earned her degree in education from Lewiston Normal School and Mt. St.Scholastica College in Atchison, KS, and a Masters in music at the University of Idaho. She taught in the parochial schools in Nezperce, Keuterville, St. Maries, and Cottonwood, and was a teacher and principal at Greencreek High School and St. Gertrude’s Academy in Cottonwood.  These educational and leadership roles served her well during her years as Prioress of the Monastery of St. Gertrude from 1955-1967.

Among her special accomplishments as Prioress was a renewed emphasis on praying and singing the Divine Office daily in the name of the church for the whole world. With the increase in the number of new members in the 1950’s and 60’s Sister Uhlenkott persuaded the community to establish St. Gertrude’s College, to expand the number of schools they staffed throughout the diocese, and to build a gymnasium for St. Gertrude’s Academy, a rectory for the chaplain, St. Benedicts Nursing Home in Jerome, ID, and St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood.

During her second term as Prioress she was elected President of the Congregation (now Federation) of St. Gertrude, an organization of about 15 communities of Benedictine Sisters at that time. It was in this role that she gathered Sisters from several communities, including St. Gertrude’s, to begin missionary work in Colombia, South America.

From 1971-87 Sister Uhlenkott taught music at St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart Schools in Boise. The last 14 years she had been retired at the monastery where she spent most of her time praying for the community and the needs of the world.

She is remembered as a strong, intelligent, caring woman with a charism for effective leadership and a zest for life. No one can count the number of afghans she crocheted nor the number of pinochle games she usually won.

She is survived by her brother Alphonse of Cottonwood, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

A Vigil Service was held in the Chapel at the Monastery of St. Gertrude on Friday, August 30 at 7:30 pm. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated there on Saturday, August 31, at 1:30 pm. Rev. Meinrad Schallberger, OSB, the monastery’s chaplain, presided.