April 24, 1946 ~ May 26, 2019

“There are going to be both the smooth rock and rough rock situations. That’s where creativity and prayer come in. One flows to the other.”

Sister Miriam Mendez, OSB, was born into eternal life at 4:23 a.m. on May 26, 2019. She was 73 years old and had been a Benedictine sister for 13 years. Sister Miriam will be remembered for her dedicated and creative work in the Monastery’s Archives and Book and Gift Shop, and her love of family and Benedictine life.

Sister Miriam was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on April 24, 1946. She grew up in San Leandro, California. Before moving to Idaho, she lived in Dinuba, California, where she raised her children, worked as a hospice nurse, and was a very involved member of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church. As her children transitioned into their adult lives Miriam Mendez felt change on the horizon. She realized she was “a 53 year-old divorced mother of three with a Benedictine soul.” She began to explore Benedictine life and discovered St. Gertrude’s. She made First Monastic Profession in 2006 and dedicated herself through Final Monastic Profession in 2009.

She became the manager of the St. Gertrude’s Book and Gift Shop, expanding the shop’s offerings of handcrafted goods, books, and religious items. She sold handcrafted rosaries and established an online presence. 

In 2016 she began a new ministry as the Monastery’s archivist. She embraced the role by taking online courses in archives and databases. She responded to research inquiries, created a digital database on each sister, and worked to eliminate duplicate documents as well as number and identify historical photos. Her most recent project was gathering materials to celebrate the upcoming 2020 centennial of the laying of the cornerstone of the St. Gertrude’s chapel.

In addition, she taught herself how to knit and crochet, making crafts for Raspberry Festival, the Book and Gift Shop, and her grandchildren. She also created stained glass art, sang and played guitar, enjoyed photography and literature, and recently took an online drawing class.

She loved living Benedictine community life. “The wonderful thing about this life is living in community. The hardest thing about living in this life is community,” she said. She kept a pair of rocks on her windowsill: a rough rock and a smooth rock that she made smooth by rubbing it against the rough rock. “There are going to be both the smooth rock and rough rock situations. That’s where creativity and prayer come in. One flows to the other.”

Sister Miriam is survived by her three children Alicia Mendez-Stevens, Olivia Mendez-Alm, and Robert Mendez; her sister Margaret Goldsmith; grandchildren Noah Alm, Samantha Alm, and Madeleine Stevens; and her Benedictine sisters. The Rosary Vigil will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, May 31, and the Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 1 — both will take place in the Monastery of St. Gertrude Chapel. A reception will follow. Memorial gifts can be made to the Monastery of St. Gertrude.