Obituary: Benedictine Sister Claire (Bernadette) Schmitt

Benedictine Sister Claire (Bernadette) Schmitt, 97, a member of Annunciation Monastery in Bismarck, North Dakota, died Aug. 28. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 2, in the Annunciation Monastery chapel. Services are limited to the sisters, family and other invited guests due to the COVID-19 situation.  

Bernadette Ann Schmitt was born May 31, 1923, with her twin sister, Bernice, in St. Martin, the third and fourth of the 12 children of Peter and Mary (Klehr) Schmitt.

Bernadette and her sister Erminia Schmitt were postulants together in 1946 and entered the novitiate in 1947, taking the names Sister Claire and Sister Miriam, respectively. Among the first class of novices at the newly established Annunciation Monastery, they made their first vows in 1948 and took final perpetual vows in 1951.

They celebrated their 60th jubilees together. Sister Miriam preceded her in death. Sister Claire celebrated her  70th jubilee in 2018.

Bringing credits from a number of colleges, Sister Claire was a member of the first graduating class of the University of Mary (Mary College) in Bismarck. She taught grades five through 11 in Catholic schools in Mandan, Bismarck, Dickinson and Flasher, all in North Dakota.  

Various ministries of religious education, parish ministry, pastoral care and home care took her to Belgrade; Linton and Garrison, North Dakota; Timber Lake and Trail City, South Dakota; and the Tule River Reservation in California. She also tutored students in the Learning Skills Center at the University of Mary and assisted in coaching Taiwanese and Vietnamese Sisters studying at the university. As highlights of her life, she cited her work on the Cheyenne River (in Timber Lake, South Dakota) and Tule River Reservations as well as her experience of teaching English as a second language to sisters at Mtwara Secondary School in Tanzania, East Africa.

Sister Claire is survived by her sisters, Eleanor Otremba of Maple Grove, Minnesota, and Louise Heurung of New Hope, Minnesota, two brothers, Father Silverius of Sauk Rapids, retired priest of the Diocese of St. Cloud, and Joseph (Delores) of Paynesville, sisters-in-law Anna Schmitt and Katie Schmitt, numerous nieces and nephews, and the Sisters of Annunciation Monastery.

Memorials may be sent to Annunciation Monastery. To share memories of Sister Claire, visit and sign the online guest book.


Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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