On Saturday, June 8, Sister Betty Schumacher celebrated her Golden Jubilee — fifty years of monastic profession — with the St. Gertrude’s monastic community, family, and friends.
“I, Sister Betty Schumacher, renew the commitment I made 50 years ago as I vow to live a life of obedience, stability, and conversion of life,” began a statement she read at the celebratory Mass. She has been a Benedictine sister of the St. Gertrude’s community since 1969. “The monastic community has been a huge influence on my life.”
Growing up in nearby Grangeville, Idaho, she was also educated by the Benedictine sisters. The eldest of ten children of German Catholic parents, she attended Saints Peter and Paul school where she was in the first 8th grade class of Sister Clarissa Goeckner, a former prioress. While attending Saints Peter and Paul School, it was the sisters’ sense of fun that inspired her to consider religious life.
“I saw the humanness in them,” recalls Sister Betty. “I thought, ‘They just have a great time together.’ I have experienced struggles throughout the years; however what keeps me here is a group of women that share a common vision and common values. This is what gives me life.”
Sister Betty began teaching elementary school and over the course of ten years taught in Boise, Pocatello, and Grangeville. She became principal of Saints Peter and Paul when her little brother entered first grade.
She transitioned to parish work when she was invited by Father Joe Muha to join him in Weiser and to coordinate the Religious Education Program. “I fell in love with parish work,” she exclaims. “It is an honor to walk with people in their journeys.” Eventually Sister Betty earned a Master’s of Ministry from Seattle University and would serve parishes in Boise, Weiser, and the Seattle Area.
Sister Betty Schumacher works as a pastoral associate at St. Jude’s Parish in Redmond, Washington. St. Jude’s, which serves 1,700 households, is diverse both economically and culturally. “What does it really mean to celebrate diversity?” asks Sister Betty. “It includes how we pray and gather as a community.”
The parish has a history of responding to the needs of the community, engaging in hunger relief projects, hosting Tent City (a homeless encampment) several times, and regularly participating in service days. Projects have included a retirement housing development and yard work for a women’s and children’s shelter. Sister Betty recently led a program to use the church parking lot to provide safe parking for homeless people living in their cars.
Sister Betty is also on the parish’s Social Justice Committee, teaches a scripture class each Tuesday, visits and gives communion to the homebound, visits the sick and grieved, and welcomes new parishioners.
Her concerns for her monastic community are similar to those for her parish. “We have a lot to offer by the way we live our life. The sense of community is vital to the world: connections, acceptance, belonging, finding meaning, and delving deeper. I believe we are always challenged to stay in touch with those who are poor and struggling in our midst. What sustains us on this journey is our belief that we walk together and that we have a responsibility to bring about the vision of Jesus as One Body.”