Picture a small bundle of energy, 4’1″ to be exact. Picture happy children following a tiny sister in black and white garb, smell the aroma of cinnamon rolls just out of the oven, hear rosary beads meditatively slipping through a small hand, gaze upon a gentle figure who bore with grace the effects of a debilitating stroke. That was our Sister Bertrand.
Born in Gars, Bavaria, Germany, Sister Bertrand was described by one of her siblings as a lively, fun and unusual young woman to whom no one was a stranger. At 18, she left the homeland she loved and journeyed by steamer and train to the heartland of America.
There, in Atchison, Kansas, she entered the monastery of Mount St. Scholastica where she made her first vows in 1926 and her final vows in 1929. She graduated from the monastery’s college learning English and obtaining a teaching degree. When Benet Hill was established in 1965 as in independent daughter house of the Mount, she became a charter member.
During her 49 years in the teaching field, she devoted herself to educating the littlest of God’s children in Colorado, Iowa and Kansas. Twenty-seven of those years were spent in Walsenburg, Colorado where she worked with miners’ children, taught religion in the mining camps and struggled to overcome her own language barrier with children of all ethnic backgrounds. These were the days classrooms burst at the seams with children – sometimes as many as 100. Sister met the challenge with hard work and love.
In her later years, she was renowned for the marvelous breads and cinnamon rolls she made for the Monastery, the students of Benet Hill Academy and those who were fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of her baking. In 2001 she celebrated her 75th anniversary of vowed life in spite of a stroke that left her paralyzed 12 years earlier. On July 18, 2002 surrounded by her community, she slipped away to be with her God.