April 1, 1920 – September 7, 2011

“Thank you, Jesus…thank you, Jesus…thank you, Jesus.”

Sister Mary Petronilla Lieser, OSB was born into eternal life on September 7, 2011 at 3:55 p.m. She took her last breath among her Sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude, including her biological sister, Sister Bernard Lieser. Sister Petronilla will be remembered as a woman of profound faith and passionate devotion.

Born Cecelia Margaret to Theresia Hemmesch and Joseph Lieser in Zion Township, Paynesville, Minnesota, she was one of three girls from her family to enter St. Gertrude’s. She made her First Profession on June 29, 1940. From then until 1984 she worked in the kitchen and laundry at Our Lady of Consolation Hospital, as school cook at St. Paul’s School in Nampa, at St. Gertrude’s Academy in Cottonwood and as head of the Dietary Department at St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood. When she left the Academy the students dedicated the 1965 annual to her.

In 1984 Sister Petronilla was missioned to serve in parish ministry: first at St. Rita’s Parish in Kellogg, Idaho and then at St. Theresa’s Parish in Orofino, Idaho. In both parishes she was able to express her creativity and love of people through outreach for Habitat for Humanity, St. Vincent de Paul, and home and prison ministries. A near-fatal stroke in 1994 barely slowed her down. After retiring to the Monastery in Cottonwood, she ministered to inmates at the North Idaho Correctional Institution.

“Reaching out to people is a good thing about being a nun,” she had said. “To bring joy and laughter to others, to help them fall in love with the church and God, to be there to pray and play with them…this is God’s good work.”

Until 2003 she was able to visit her family in Minnesota. Of course card playing, both there and at St. Gertrude’s, was an important recreation for her, and up to the last she accepted a dance when the occasion called for it.

Celebrating 70 years of Monastic Profession, Sister Petronilla with her sister, Sister Bernard (to the right) and Prioress Sister Clarissa (standing).

1990 was the year of her Golden Jubilee and on July 27, 2010, she celebrated 70 years of Monastic Profession. Prioress Sister Clarissa Goeckner spoke immediately after Sister Petronilla renewed her promises. “You have been a mentor, guide and wisdom figure among us. Thanks for your determination, your commitment to the community, your dedication to ministry and your spirit of gratitude.” The ceremony concluded with the Community exclaiming the words that had become Sister Petronilla’s signature: “Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Jesus!”

Sister Petronilla is survived by the Benedictine Sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude, her sister Sister Bernard Lieser, a brother Bernard Lieser and numerous nieces and nephews.

The Vigil Service was on Tuesday, September 13 at 7:00 p.m. and the Mass of the Resurrection was held on Wednesday, September 14 at 1:30 p.m.

Memorial Gifts in Sister Petronilla’s honor can be made to the Monastery.