One of ten children, Sister Maristelle was born to Peter and Catherine (Windeshausen) Schmitz in Panama, IA. She made profession in 1939 at Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kansas. A charter member of Benet Hill Monastery, in August, 1999 she celebrated her 60th Jubilee.
She had a BA from Mt. St. Scholastica College and an MA from Creighton University. After teaching school in Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa, she taught from 1950-1980 in Colorado’s public schools. At the Rio Grande Bd of Cooperative Services Vocational School near Monte Vista, CO, she taught math, English and job skills for eight years. She worked as a librarian for National American University for fifteen years where William Flannagan, Dean of Academic Affairs, noted, “she was a hostess without peer.” She was also the librarian for CIVA Charter High School. However, when asked what her main work was, she answered, “I pray, cook, clean, teach, listen, give spiritual help, but-most of all-anticipate God’s love in the wonders that happen each day.”
Sister Maristelle was active in Benedictines for Peace and was commissioned by their National Assembly to be a peace herald and bearer. She joined other peace-lovers in encircling Rocky Flats and, in 1985, she participated in encircling the State Capitol with “The Ribbon” later flying with several other Sisters to Washington D.C. where they encircled the Pentagon with The Ribbon. She served as co-director of the Benet Hill oblates and wrote frequent articles for the Review. Sister Maristelle loved books, corresponding with her wide circle of friends and writing. Her poem: “My Poem Prayer” was published in the Newman of Oxford anthology.
Even after her stroke and confinement to a wheelchair she continued to greet each new day with a smile. Sister Maristelle especially enjoyed the Tuesday afternoon “tea parties” in the infirmary. Family and friends would stop by to participate in this weekly gathering-a time of laughter, conversation and shared wisdom. It soon became known as Tuesdays with Mari.
The words Sister Maristelle wrote in memory of Benet Hill Academy student Maureen Lynch echo our feelings now:
your conscious caring
when days were gray.
I remember your gracious sharing
all the knowledge you could give…
Beside you I felt
important because you loved me.
Now, the dear Lord is
and loving to you!