Sr. Dorothy Jean Beyer
Sr. Dorothy Jean Beyer

MOUNT ANGEL — Benedictine Sisters Dorothy Jean Beyer and Marietta Schindler celebrated the 50th anniversary of their monastic professions last month, before community members, family, and friends in the Queen of Angels Monastery Chapel here.  

Sister Dorothy Jean Beyer, the second oldest of William and Delphine Beyer's seven children, grew up in Mount Angel and entered the Benedictine Sisters' community following her graduation from Mount Angel Academy. She professed first vows in 1963 and earned a bachelor's degree from Mount Angel College. She later earned a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Oregon, and a master's degree in ministry from Seattle University.

Sister Dorothy Jean served as a teacher and principal for 20 years in local Catholic schools, including four years at St. Paul School in Silverton, and 16 years at St. Luke School in Woodburn. She also taught religious education for two years at St. Mary's Academy in Portland.

In 1987 Sister Dorothy Jean was elected as prioress of the community here and served in that capacity for a total of 16 years, 1987-'95 and 1999-2007. During her tenure as prioress, a successful $6.2-million fundraising campaign was completed for the repair and rebuilding of the monastery and chapel after the 1993 earthquake. She served as director of Shalom Prayer Center for four years.

Sister Dorothy Jean served on the national board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and was a regional chairperson. She served on the governing council of the Federation of St. Gertrude, a group of women's monasteries, for six years. Other highlights for Sister Dorothy Jean were representing Benedictine women worldwide at a conference in Rome and working with the Benedictine Sisters in South Africa.                            

Currently, she is the coordinator of ministry for the sick and homebound at St. Mary Parish in Mount Angel, a position she has held since September 2012. She also offers individual spiritual direction, a ministry she has maintained for many years.

Reflecting on reaching the milestone of 50 years as a religious, Sister Dorothy Jean says, "As I have moved closer to 50 years (in religious life), I have reflected on how God has worked in my life. I was taught by Benedictine Sisters in grade and high school and was attracted to their way of life. Sister Patricia Washburn, who was one of my teachers, was so happy and joyful. Even when I was a young girl, she saw my potential and entrusted tasks to me, which brought out my leadership and sense of responsibility. I appreciated that wonderful encouragement from the sisters.

"The day of jubilee to me is just one day, and I have decided to make every day a jubilee day of celebration. When I entered religious life, I dedicated my life to God, and to be of service to others, and that is what I have tried to do."

Sister Marietta (Shirley) Schindler grew up in Woodburn, one of five children of Fred and Jeanette Schindler. She attended St. Luke School and Mount Angel Academy, which provided a lot of contact with the Benedictine Sisters during her formative years. After graduating from Mount Angel Academy in 1961, she entered the sisters' community, and, in 1963, professed first vows. She later earned her bachelor's degree in Education from Mount Angel College, and her master's degree in Education from Oregon College of Education (now Western Oregon University).

Sister Marietta served as a teacher at St. Mary School in Albany for 13 years, and spent the last four years also serving as the principal. In 1978 she returned to Mount Angel to serve as assistant prioress to Sister Marilyn Schwab. She then served one and two years, respectively, teaching at St. Mary Public School in Mount Angel and St. Paul Catholic School in St. Paul. She also spent five summers (1973-'77) working as assistant to the director of the summer school program at Mount Angel Seminary.

In 1984 Sister Marietta began a new ministry of parish work at Our Lady of the Valley Parish in La Grande. This "challenging but rewarding work" found her responsible for adult education, RCIA, campus ministry, and visiting the sick. In 1991 Sister Marietta was called to return home to Queen of Angels Monastery to serve as vocation director and volunteer coordinator. Two years later, she became community treasurer, as well. For the past 20 years, she has continued her work in these three positions, while also serving on the Sisters' monastic council throughout this period.

Sister Marietta has also served as the secretary-treasurer for the Regional Vocation and Formation Committee, and has been a long-time member of the Vocation Team for the Archdiocese of Portland.

Sister Marietta expressed gratitude for the richness of her life and service as a Benedictine, saying, "It has been a blessing to teach and serve in so many different parishes, getting to know a lot of great families. I appreciate and value the relationships that I've had with these families that are so very positive.

"I'm grateful to Sister Rosalia Tanzer for planting the seed of religious life in me, and encouraging me to think and pray about it. Sister Bernice Schmidt was also a valuable role model and friend for me when I entered the community. I have appreciated living most of my life here in the Willamette Valley, and being rooted here where my family has lived for four or five generations."

At present, the Benedictine Sisters have 39 professed members, two novices, and 80 oblates.