On Monday, July 11 — the Feast of St. Benedict — the community of the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho celebrated the jubilees of Sister Chanelle Schuler and Sister Jean Lalande (60 years) and Sister Valine Kachelmier (70 years).
Sister Chanelle made her First Profession on June 14, 1956 and ministered as a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood and later as a hospital chaplain at St. Benedict’s Medical Center in Jerome, Idaho, and then at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington. She now extends Benedictine hospitality at the Monastery through a variety of endeavors, including as an innkeeper for the Inn at St. Gertrude.
“I love praying with community, celebrating daily Eucharist, and sharing the wisdom of my sisters,” says Sister Chanelle. “Although each of us is unique, we seek God together with one heart and one soul.”
Sister Jean Lalande made her First Profession alongside Sister Chanelle and became a biology teacher at St. Gertrude’s Academy and Bishop Kelly High School in Boise. “More of life opened up to me because of my vocation,” she says. “In fact, it was the strength and joy of the sisters that first attracted me to St. Gertrude’s.”
Sister Jean also served in the Monastery’s Healing Center as a certified massage therapist and was elected prioress in 1999. Her leadership helped set the stage for making a big decision for the future: to build Spirit Center, the community’s 21,800 square foot retreat and conference center.
“I find that each and every minute is a sacramental moment,” says Sister Jean. “Choosing with each breath to live for God, the earth and others takes courage and faith. Each day I start over, choosing life.”
Sister Valine made her First Profession on March 25, 1946 and had a teaching career that took her to Grangeville, Nampa, Saint Maries, Cottonwood, Boise, Pocatello and Rupert. (She also was Sister Jean’s teacher.) Later she served at home at the Monastery as an occupational therapist and now crafts candles and tends the gardens.
“My heart overflows with deep gratitude for all the blessings and graces that I have been given,” says Sister Valine. “I often pray with the psalmist: ‘O God, my God, for You I long at break of day. My soul thirsts for You. My body longs for You.’ A religious vocation is a very special relationship with God; one that can be nurtured by scripture and developing a listening heart; one that is finely tuned to the things that matter to God. I find fidelity to prayer very life-giving.”