Sister Benita Hassler

August 4, 1931 – March 30, 2023

“Hear the Voice of our God – in your hearts, in the Word, in each other, in the world – Calling all to listen and obey.” So begins a poem/hymn by Sister Benita Hassler, who expresses her lifelong devotion to Benedictine values by sharing a wide range of gifts – as poet, musician, artist, missionary and teacher.   Sr. Benita was born into eternal life at 2:58 p.m., Thursday, March 30, 2023.  She was 91 and had been a Benedictine sister for 74 years.

Sr. Benita was born in Wolf Point, Montana, on August 4, 1931, to George and Veronica Brost Hassler.  She entered St. Gertrude’s in 1949 when she was just eighteen. Her decision went against the advice of both her best friend and her father, who resisted his daughter going so far away from Montana. But she embraced monastic life and soon began a 55-year teaching career – including 30 years in Idaho Catholic schools – where she could express her love of art, music, and language.

Sister Benita credits her mother as her biggest influence. “She showed me by her example many monastic values, especially her seemingly unlimited love for each member of her family and her voluntarily simple lifestyle.”  Her mother was also a teacher, in a one-room country school in Montana, and eventually entered the Monastery of St. Gertrude 16 years after her daughter – as Sister Veronica.

In 1963, Sister Benita was among the first to be missioned to Bogotá, Colombia, to teach in the newly built Colegio San Carlos. Sister Benita taught art and music in the primary and secondary schools there. Her mother, Sister Veronica, later served alongside her in Colombia for two years. Once back in Idaho, Sister Benita began teaching Spanish and English in the public high schools in Rupert and Caldwell. In 1984 she was named “Most Outstanding Foreign Language Teacher in Idaho” and was celebrated for her contagious enthusiasm and ability to motivate.

In 2000, Sister Benita became a volunteer, teaching English, GED and computer skills to Hispanic families. She and former student John Irwin also initiated a program that provided recycled computers for her students.

In her later years, Sister Benita rose early to write, compose music or paint. During the day, she helped the sisters in the infirmary email their families and friends.

Sister Benita is survived by extended family members, and her Benedictine sisters.

A rosary vigil was held on May 1 in the chapel at the Monastery of St. Gertrude with the Mass of Christian Burial  on May 2. Burial took place in the monastery cemetery.

Blackmer Funeral Home, Grangeville, Idaho, handled arrangements. Memorial gifts can be made to the Monastery of St. Gertrude, 465 Keuterville Road, Cottonwood, Idaho 83522, or via the website.