She was born April 18, 1942, to Bud Jennings and Cecilia Marie Thinnes Wardle in Ogden, UT. Following her graduation from Utah’s Weber State College, Ms. Wardle taught school until she joined the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, ID in 1966. There she made her Profession as Sister Stephanie Marie in 1968.
Sister Stephanie served in a broad array of ministries which included teaching in Catholic schools in Cottonwood and Lewiston, directing youth ministry in Boise and Religious Education Programs in Rupert, ID, and serving as Pastoral Associate in Lava Hot Springs and Soda Springs, ID.
After earning certification from Seattle University as a drug and alcohol counselor she served for 19 years as counselor and director at drug and alcohol recovery centers in Boise, Nampa and Caldwell, ID. She also established and managed a soup kitchen at the Community Christian Center in Garden City, ID. The last seven years she worked in Mission Services at St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood, ID and Clearwater Valley Hospital in Orofino, ID.
A ministry highlight for her was taking the youth group from Sacred Heart Parish in Boise to see Pope John Paul II during his papal tour of the United State in 1987. The youth joined 100,000 others near Monterey, CA, for a Mass celebrated by the pope.
Sister Stephanie served four years as Vocations Director for St. Gertrude’s and was a popular retreat director who was trained in spiritual direction at the Benedictine community in Pecos, NM.
The Idaho Statesman featured Sister Stephanie in “Portrait of a Distinguished Citizen” in 1983 and the Idaho Board of Alcohol and Drugs selected her “Counselor of the Year” in 1990.
Most people who knew Sister Stephanie praise her creativity, perseverance, courage, intelligence, faith, cheerfulness, zest for life and commitment to acting on behalf of the poor.
She was preceded in death by her mother, and is survived by her monastic community and by her father and her two brothers Robert and Tim, both of Ogden, and their families.
A vigil service for Sister Stephanie was at 7:00pm on February 6 in the monastery chapel. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 1:30 pm on February 7 also in the chapel. Fr. Meinrad Schallberger, OSB, was presider and Prioress Jean Lalande gave the reflections.