Sr. Katherine Boechler

Sr. M. St. Alphonsus

Born::  Allan, Saskatchewan, 17/8/1917
Postulancy::Regina, Saskatchewan, 13/10/1941
Novitiate:: Regina, Saskatchewan, 25/7/1942
1st Profession:: Regina, Saskatchewan, 26/7/1944
Final Vows::Chittagong, Bangladesh, 26/7/1950
Died:: Winnipeg, Manitoba, 11/4/2014

Katherine was born on August 16, 1917 in Allan Saskatchewan into a large and caring German Catholic family of fourteen children.  Growing up on the Saskatchewan prairies, Katherine developed a pragmatic bent and a capacity to endure.  

In 1941, Katherine entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions (RNDM) at Sacred Heart College in Regina SK, making her first vows in 1944.  (Her older sister Regina Anne had already joined the Congregation.)  In 1948 Sr. Katherine was missioned to India, and made her perpetual vows on July 26, 1950 in Chittagong, in what was then East Pakistan.

Katherine served as an educator and an administrator in the volatile situations just after the partitioning of India, the formation of East Pakistan, and the eventual creation of Bangladesh.  She taught and/or served as a local superior or bursar in Chittagong, Dhaka, Shillong and Haflong.  To this day, she is greatly appreciated by the Sisters in Bangladesh as a courageous and visionary woman.

Returning to Canada was a difficult decision for Katherine.  However, having made the decision she gave herself wholeheartedly to Mission here.  In 1969, Katherine attended Teachers College in Brandon, where her academic and practice teaching records were exceptional.  She received a gold medal for academic excellence from the province of Manitoba, and was put on the Dean's honour list for her performance in student teaching.   On completion of her certification in Education, Katherine began teaching kindergarten at St. Edward's school in Winnipeg.  She enjoyed teaching and loved her students.  She had the capacity to evoke a sense of wonder and love of learning in her young students.  

Katherine retired from classroom teaching in 1987, and then extended her involvements with refugees and migrants.  She had a special care for those who had been forced to flee their homelands, for those made poor, and those who struggled for basic human rights.  She taught English to those who had come to Canada from other countries, and did all she could to help them feel welcome in their new country.

Although somewhat timid and self-effacing in some instances, in other instances Katherine was fierce and relentless in her passion for the respect and dignity of each person.  Living at St. Edward's, she insisted that everyone be vigilant in terms of locking doors and windows and yet when someone "out there" was in need, Katherine was out there with them finding out how she might help.

One story Katherine told of her time in Bangladesh was so very typical of her ingenuity.  She was in charge of a building project and the materials for the building were disappearing.  Katherine called a man [of whom she had grave suspicions] and hired him to be a watchman of the materials.  He would get paid only if none of the material went missing!  None of it did.

In 2007 with the sale of St. Edward's Convent, Katherine chose to move to St. Benedict's Place for independent living which was situated within the Benedictine monastery. Here Katherine became a familiar figure going to and from the chapel for services and her private devotions.  The fact that she could participate in the Eucharist several times a week at St. Benedict's meant a lot to Katherine.  She was very happy there.

Katherine had a way of accepting persons for who they were.  For herself she had very well defined criteria for what was acceptable and what wasn't and miraculously she did not imposed these standards on others - nor did she want the values of others imposed on her.  She had a gift for reconciliation, and if she thought she had offended someone, she took pains to set the relationship right.

And so we thank you Katherine - for your love and acceptance and for all the wisdom you shared with us - especially when you thought you didn't know how to share.  Enjoy your "new life".  We find solace in knowing that you will remember us.  May you rest in the arms of God and in the peace for which you so longed.

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