St. Martin’s, a Benedictine university and abbey in Lacey, Washington, recognized the sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude with the Distinguished Alumnae Award. St. Martin’s also honored the sisters for their years of service.

Eight recipients were presented with the awards during Homecoming festivities on Saturday, February 8, 2020. Prioress Sister Mary Forman and Sister Clarissa Goeckner, former prioress, were going to attend the awards ceremony but were prevented when regional fog caused their flight to be cancelled. Sister Mary sent along an acceptance speech on behalf of the sisters, which was then read at the ceremony.

“When I entered St. Gertrude’s, I heard wonderful stories from our elders who had worked at St. Martin’s and how much they loved working here,” wrote Sr. Mary. “Thank you so much for this award and recognition of the connection between our two monastic houses and their ministries.”

The shared history goes as far back as St. Gertrude’s foundress, Mother Johanna Zumstein, along with Sr. Meinrada Hartle and Sister Walburga Ambuehl who began working in the Culinary and Sewing Departments at St. Martin’s in 1904. The service continued with 56 other sisters until 1959 when the prioress called the sisters back to serve closer to home. A dining hall at St. Martin’s was dedicated as the St. Gertrude’s Dining Hall in 2004.

Later, Sisters Scholastica Uhlenkott, Carm Ternes, Barbara Jean Glodowski, and Stephanie Marie Wardle returned to teach summer classes at the university and Sister Cecile Marie Uhlorn served in Campus Ministry.

Many sisters attended classes and graduated from St. Martin’s University, including Sisters Mary Marge Goeckner, Clarissa Goeckner, Corinne Forsman, and Placida Wemhoff

Sr. Clarissa wrote, “In addition to high academic standards, St. Martin’s added a Benedictine touch to everything that happened there. The gifts of St. Martin’s were: grounding me in my chosen areas of study, opening my eyes to the larger questions of life, and showing me the importance of living a life of service and prayer.”

Sr. Mary acknowledged the seven monks of St. Martin’s Abbey who have served the sisters as chaplains. The prioress also teaches an introduction to the early women leaders of the church, many of whom started the first monastic communities, to the St. Martin’s Benedictine Scholars who annually visit St. Gertrude’s for a retreat.

“This year’s Distinguished Alumni embody the values of Saint Martin’s University through their actions and achievements, and it is an honor to celebrate each of them” said Cecelia Loveless, vice president for institutional advancement. “The sisters of Saint Gertrude are the epitome of Benedictine Service to Saint Martin’s and we will be forever grateful for the relationship we have built with the sisters.”