October 28, 1917 – July 22, 2014
“There is nothing as strong as gentleness; there is nothing as gentle as real strength.”
Sister Mary Catherine Manderfeld was born into eternal life on Tuesday, July 22 at approximately 11:30 a.m. She was 96 years old and had lived 80 years of religious life. She was a dedicated and influential teacher who played an important part in the development of the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude.
Catherine Luella Manderfeld was born October 28, 1917, in Genesee, ID, to Henry Anton and Anna Marie Kambitsch Manderfeld. Educated by the Benedictine sisters at St. Joseph’s School in Genesee, Catherine’s transition to St. Gertrude’s Academy and into the postulancy was nearly seamless. Life at St. Gertrude’s was similar to home – lots of gardening, chores, and responsibility.
Catherine became Sister Catherine on August 20, 1934. She took her first teaching position in Nezperce at the age of 16. She taught elementary grades for the next 12 years and then taught chemistry, physics, biology, and math at St. Gertrude’s Academy for 27 years. She was educated at Holy Names College in Spokane and Mt. Angel College in Mt. Angel, Oregon. She earned her teaching certificate from the University of Idaho. Later she earned a B.S. in physics with minors in math and philosophy at Gonzaga University. In 1959 she was awarded a four-summer scholarship to Gonzaga University by the National Science Foundation and subsequently received a Master of Science Education degree.
Her long teaching career has been honored over the years by many former students. She is remembered as a steady and inspired educator, intelligent with enduring curiosity. In 1977 Sister Catherine retired from teaching high school and became Sister Alfreda Elsensohn’s full-time assistant at the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude. Sister Catherine also served on the hospital boards of St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood and St. Benedicts Family Medical Center in Jerome as well as on the Monastery Monastic Council.
In 1999 Sister Catherine and the sisters of St. Gertrude were awarded Idaho’s first-ever Esto Perpetua Award for outstanding accomplishments in preserving Idaho’s heritage. On her ninetieth birthday, she expressed her philosophy of living: “Life is lived one day at a time; we do what we need to do. I am grateful for the way God was able to touch lives through me.”
Sister Catherine was dedicated to those in need and was a faithful prayer presence in the monastic community and beyond. Sister Catherine is remembered as a wise, gentle and gracious woman. She is survived by her brother Donald, nieces, nephews, and her Benedictine community of the Monastery of St. Gertrude.
The Rosary Vigil was held Monday, July 28th at 7:00 pm in the Monastery chapel, and the Mass of Christian Burial was held on Tuesday, July 29th at 1:30 pm. Memorial Gifts in Sister Catherine’s honor can be made to the Monastery of St. Gertrude, 465 Keuterville Road, Cottonwood, Idaho, 83522.