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Sister Pierre Vorster, OSB

Sister Pierre Vorster, OSB, age 101, a member of St. Scholastica Monastery, died at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, after a brief illness on March 22, 2023. Catherine Marie Vorster was born on March 18, 1922, in Subiaco, Arkansas, to Dan and Agatha Kruse Vorster. She was dedicated to her family and loved them deeply. She grew up in the shadow of Subiaco Abbey.

Before entering St. Scholastica Monastery, she developed a love for politics and history, both of which she attributed to her father. After completing her elementary grades at St. Benedict School in Subiaco, Catherine entered the monastery on September 2, 1937, and became a novice on June 24, 1938, when she took the name, Sister Mary Pierre. On June 24, 1940, she made her first profession, and in 1943 she made her perpetual profession as a member of St. Scholastica Monastery.

Sister Pierre earned her degree in Biology and Chemistry Education in 1962 from Mount Saint Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas. She completed her Masters in Education Administration with a minor in Biology from Creighton, University in Omaha, Nebraska in 1968.

A dedicated teacher for thirty-two years, she taught at St. Scholastica in Shoal Creek, Holy Redeemer in Clarksville, St. Augustine in Dardanelle, St. Edward in Little Rock, St. Boniface, St. John, and St. Anne in Fort Smith, St. Mary in Hattieville, Arkansas and St. Pius X in Moberly, Missouri. She was an excellent teacher, projecting a formidable, no-nonsense attitude.

Beneath the strong exterior was a tender, compassionate heart. During her time as an educator, she earned many awards. In 1956, she received the Pelican Award, a Catholic Boy Scout award, from the Bishop of Little Rock, and later the first Marian Award for Girl Scouts. She earned recognition as the Outstanding Biology Teacher in Arkansas in 1971. In 1972, she was awarded the Dogwood Medal of Honor and the Citation Plaque for her contribution to education in 1973 for history, citizenship, and love of country. She was also named Outstanding Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Sister Pierre was also involved in many public issues outside the field of education, especially in areas of the environment, conservation, and elder care. She was appointed to serve on the Governor’s Advisory Council for the Elderly under three different governors, Bill Clinton, Jim Guy Tucker, and Mike Huckabee. She worked tirelessly for the needs of the elderly and was recognized for her efforts. She was a member of the Arkansas-Oklahoma River Compact Commission from 1980-1992. In 1969, she received the Ruth Thomas Audubon Scholarship. Other awards included the Public Awareness Award, Outstanding Volunteer Award for Adult and Adult Services, Capital Citations from the State of Arkansas, and induction into the Arkansas Senior Hall of Fame.

In 1995, she received the first ever Annual Arkansas Volunteer of the Year Award, now known as the Sister Pierre Vorster Volunteer Award. She received the President’s Call to Service award begun by President George W. Bush. She was active in the Audubon Society, Western Arkansas Area Agency on Aging, and Project Compassion. She served her monastic community as director of St. Scholastica Education Center, activity director for the Monastery Infirmary, editor of the monastery publication Horizons, and for twenty-five years as supervisor of the monastery grounds.

She loved nature and history and enjoyed playing cards, dominoes, and ‘Five–Up’. She took delight in an occasional Arby’s roast beef sandwich and a scoop of peppermint ice cream. She was proud of her German heritage and family. Her hometown in Subiaco, all of Logan County, and the community of St. Scholastica were quite dear to her. No one matched her style and ability. She has truly been a pillar of St. Scholastica Monastery, rooted both here and at Subiaco Abbey.

She was preceded in death by her parents and her siblings, Joseph Daniel Vorster, William August Vorster, Frank Bernard Vorster, and Mary Ann Altenhofel. She is survived by her sister, Bridget Weisenfels, and sister-in-law, Martha Vorster; many beloved nieces and nephews, great nephews and nieces; and the members of her Benedictine community.

Vespers Service will be on April 21, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. The funeral Mass will be on April 22, 2023, at 10:30 a.m., with Rev. Jerome Kodell, OSB, Abbot Elijah Owens, OSB, and Rev. Reginald Udouj, OSB presiding. Both services will be at St. Scholastica Monastery. Burial will follow in St. Scholastica’s cemetery. Memorials may be made to St. Scholastica Monastery Continuing Care Fund, P.O. Box 3489, Fort Smith, AR 72913.

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Sister Leonella made her monastic profession in 1936 and earned her master’s degree in history from Creighton University in Omaha. Her 42-year teaching career included assignments in Prairie View, Charleston, Scranton, Altus, St. Vincent, Rogers, Subiaco, Tontitown, Clarksville, all in AR, and Pilot Grove, MO. She spent several years working as the monastery’s librarian and archivist. In 1999 she retired to spend her time as part of the prayer team.

Her cousin, Abbot Jerome Kodell, OSB of Subiaco Abbey, presided at the funeral Mass.

She is survived by three brothers, Edwin Spanke of Schereville, IN, Theodore Spanke of Indianapolis, IN, and Francis Spanke of Overland Park, KS, and by her sisters in community.

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The native of St. Francis, Texas made her monastic profession in 1955. For the past fifteen years she was director of maintenance and housekeeping at St. Scholastica Center. Previously, she was on staff at St. Joseph Home in No. Little Rock from 1958 until 1986, serving as the director of the orphanage’s girls’ department from 1958 to 1971. She earned a degree in music therapy and worked in nursing homes and the Booneville Development Center. She was the guitarist for monastery liturgies.

She is survived by five sisters, Mary Wieck and Lillian Friemel, both of Canyon, TX, Margaret Bertrand of Amarillo, TX, Sister Teresa Grabber, CCVI of San Antonio, TX and Bernice Grabber-Tintes of Belgrade,MN; four brothers, Bernard Grabber and Edward Grabber, both of Canyon, TX, John Grabber of Umbarger, TX, and Eugene Grabber of Garden City Beach, SC; and by her sisters in community.

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Sr. Concetta made her religious profession on June 24, 1938. She was assigned to St. Joseph’s Orphanage in North Little Rock from 1938-1962, where she was house mother for the young boys. She then returned to Ft. Smith, serving as manager of the Academy Girls’ Dining Room till 1966. Sr. Concetta again served St. Joseph’s from 1970-97. In addition, in the early 70’s she helped establish and became Director of the Westside Clinic, which served the poor, in Little Rock.

She is survived by four sisters, Dell Mazzanti of Lake Village, Margaret Agussi of Cleveland, MS, Lena Mazzanti of Little Rock, and Catherine DiStrito of Goulds, FL; and four brothers, Joe Mazzanti of Lake Village, Edwin Mazzanti of Virginia Beach, VA, John Mazzanti of Norfolk, VA, and Pete Mazzanti of Laurel, MS; and by her sisters in community.

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Sister Bernice Kraus, who made her monastic profession on June 24, 1934, was a childcare provider at St. Joseph’s Orphange in Little Rock. Later, at home in the monastery, she served the community as mail distributor.

She is survived by the sisters of her religious community; two sisters, Julia Horton of Pilot Grove, MO, and Pauline Richardson of Booneville; and a brother, Edgar Kraus of Pilot Grove.

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Sister Benita Wewers was a teacher in parochial schools in Little Rock, Fayetteville and St. Scholastica Academy in Fort Smith. She made her religious profession on June 24,1934. She was prioress of St. Scholastica Monastery from 1959-63. For many years she was in charge of Teenage Religious Education (TARE) for Catholic high school students in the Fort Smith area. She was involved in the Scripture Study Program of the Diocese of Little Rock.

She is survived by the sisters of her religious community; a brother, Lawrence Wewers of Fort Smith; several nieces, nephews and cousins.

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Sr. Antonia made her monastic profession on June 24, 1954 and served as a school teacher in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. She also served the community as House Coordinator and as Retreat Center Director. In addition, she served a Parish in Missouri as a Pastoral Associate.

She is survived by a sister, Mary Luella Powell of Amarillo, Texas; five brothers, Jimmy Lutz of Pocola, Ben Lutz of Elmore City, OK, Bill Lutz of Fort Smith, John Lutz of Apopka, FL, and Herman Lutz of Lake Wales, FL; and by her sisters in community.

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Sr. Anastasia, who made her monastic profession on June 24,1959, was a homemaker for the missions in Altus, Little Rock, and at the monastery in Fort Smith. In addition, she was a very fine seamtress.

Sr. Anastasia is survived by a sister, Pauline Rathburn of Raymore, MO; by four brothers, Elmer, Basil, Hubert and Robert Gallus, all of Maysville, MO; by several nieces and nephews; and by her sisters in community.

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Sister Anacletus Schroeder made her monastic profession on June 24, 1936. She was a professional nurse for 52 years, and worked in Clarksville, Dermott, Morrilton, Van Buren and Boonville, MO. After retiring from nursing, she served the monastery as receptionist untill her recent illness. She has four nieces who are members of St. Scholastica Monastery.

In addition to her sisters in community, Sr. Anacletus is survived by two sisters, Agnes Linderman of Archer City, TX, and Dorothy Bockholt of Robstown, TX; two sisters-in-law, Mary Lou Schroeder and Lucille Schroeder, both of Windthorst, TX; and a number of nieces and nephews.