Mary Catherine Reiten (S. Paula, O.S.B,)

Author of The Reiten Family Book

The following text and pictures are from The Reiten Family Book


b. 1924 October 26

Saint Benedict 's Convent

St. Joseph, MN 56374

(612) 363-5100

MARY CATHERINE REITEN, the second child of Nels and Lillian Andrews Reiten, was born in Grand Forks, ND, on October 26, 1924. She began grade school in Petersburg at the same time as Betty entered the second grade. During her high school years, she and her good friend, Marian Engesather, spent hours dreaming of foreign travel and exciting adventures when they finished school (they each traveled as far as Minnesota), and felt important as baton twirlers and cheerleaders at basketball games.

After graduation from Petersburg High School in 1942, Mary Catherine worked briefly in Nicholson's grain elevator and then became the assistant postmistress in town when Andy Reiten went to war. She worked with her aunt, Christine Loken, who was the post-mistress, and learned to know and appreciate Christine for the special person she was. During the summer of 1943, the "army" moved into Michigan, ND, to help the area farmers harvest their crops; Mary Catherine joined in local USO activities to entertain the troups.

On the same day that the troops left the area in September 1943, Mary Catherine left for the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, MN, to enroll as a freshman; Betty was already a junior there.

Unknown to her at the time, that association with Saint Benedict's was to become a permanent one, for in the fall of 1945, she entered Saint Benedict's Convent. The following year she became a novice and was given the name, Sister Paula. After pronouncing first vows in July 1947, she continued her college studies and graduated in August 1948, with a major in English.

For the next 32 years, Sister Paula was active in the field of education, most of the time behind the teacher's desk, but sometimes also as a student. She taught English at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud for a year and a half, was Registrar at the College of Saint Benedict for five and a half years, and taught various courses in English (American literature, fiction, poetry, creative writing, world literature) at the college for over twenty-one years. She also chaired the English Department for eleven years and taught a popular quiltmaking course for four January Terms. In 1973, she received the Outstanding Educator of America award.

In between her periods of teaching, Sister Paula earned a masters degree in English from the University of Minnesota in 1957 and a doctorate in English from Columbia University in New York City in 1970.

Off—campus summer school teaching has taken her to Holy Names College in Spokane and to Saint Benedict's extension college in Nassau, Bahamas, a few years ago.

After deciding on a career change, Sister Paula returned to the University of Minnesota and earned a second masters degree, this time in library science, during her sabbatical year in 1979—1980. She worked in the College of Saint Benedict library during the following year and is currently the director of the Saint Benedict's Convent Library. For three years, 1981-1983, she chaired the Library Building Committee which drew up plans for a new college library and selected the architects. The library will be built in 1985.

Sister Paula 1979

Sister Paula has survived most of the changes and upheavals in convent life brought about by Vatican Il; she especially likes the new maturity, responsibility, and freedom, along with the enrichment of liturgical worship, that has resulted from these changes.

All of her life Sister Paula wanted a bicycle, and finally got one in 1973. Since then she has biked over 7,000 miles around the countryside near St. Joseph during the summer months. When she isn't on her bike, she is hiking or reading in her free time. Now and then she makes a quilt.

Obituary: Benedictine Sister Paula Reiten

March 5, 2019 The Central Minnesota Catholic Obituaries

Benedictine Sister Paula Reiten, 94, died March 2 at St. Scholastica Convent, St. Cloud. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. March 8 in the Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph. Burial of cremated remains will be in the monastery cemetery. Friends may call from 1 to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, at St. Scholastica Convent or for a vigil prayer service at 7 p.m. at St. Benedict’s Monastery. Visitation continues at 9 a.m. on March 8 until the time of the funeral.

Sister Paula (Mary Catherine) Reiten was born Oct. 26, 1924, the second of ten children, to Nelson and Lillian (Andrews) Reiten in Petersburg, North Dakota. She attended Petersburg grade school and Petersburg High School there. On September 13, 1945, she entered St. Benedict’s Monastery, was received into the novitiate June 19, 1946, taking the name Sister Paula, made first monastic profession on July 11, 1947, and perpetual monastic profession on July 11, 1950.

A graduate of the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Sister Paula received a bachelor’s degree in English with minors in biology and philosophy. She earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Minnesota, a doctoral degree from Columbia University, New York City, New York, and, in 1980, a master’s in library science. She also studied at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana; University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa; and Fordham University, Bronx, New York.

She served as an educator at Cathedral High School, St. Cloud, and at the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph. After completing her teaching career, Sister Paula served in the library of the College of St. Benedict and then as director of the monastic library, retiring on Dec. 31, 2007. From 2008, Sister Paula worked with memorabilia for St. Benedict’s Monastery. She moved to St. Scholastica Convent in 2012. Here, she carried out a ministry of prayer for the prioress and monastery leadership team and for vocations.

Sister Paula is survived by the sisters of her Benedictine community, one brother, Richard, Portland, Oregon, and two sisters, Patricia (Stanley) Cervenka, Burien, Washington, and Margaret Reiten, Portland, Oregon. Twin brothers, Thomas and David, and two sisters, Elizabeth Henry and Kathleen Reiten, preceded her in death.