Obituary: Benedictine Sister Merle Nolde

Benedictine Sister Merle (Simon) Nolde, 96, died March 28 at St. Scholastica Convent, St. Cloud. The Eucharist of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, April 3, at Sacred Heart Chapel, St. Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph. Burial of cremated remains will be in the monastery cemetery. Friends may call at St. Scholastica Convent on Sunday, April 2, for a prayer service at 3 p.m., followed by visitation until 4:15 p.m., or for a vigil prayer service at 8 p.m. at St. Benedict’s Monastery. Visitation continues at 9 a.m. until the time of the funeral on April 3.

The oldest of Joseph and Meryl (Runk) Nolde’s eight children, she was born April 8, 1926, in Stillwater, Minnesota. She attended St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School in Stillwater and St. Benedict’s High School and the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in music.

After graduating from college, she worked for three years in the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference in Washington, D.C., and she also volunteered at the Catholic Interracial House known as Friendship House. In November 1952, she entered St. Benedict’s Monastery, was received into the novitiate June 17, 1953, as Sister Simon (reverting to her baptismal name in 1969), made first monastic profession July 11, 1954, and perpetual monastic profession July 11, 1957. She celebrated her golden jubilee in 2004 and her 60th anniversary of profession in 2014.

Sister Merle earned a doctorate in English from St. Louis University in St. Louis and attended the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

She taught English at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud and at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph. From 1978 to 1981, she was co-director of the National Assembly of Women Religious in Chicago. For 10 years, she assisted with physical therapy services at St. Scholastica Convent, and she spent a year in pastoral ministry in Missoula, Montana. In 1993, she moved back to St. Benedict’s Monastery where she assisted with hosting guests to the monastery’s Studium program.

Social justice remained highly significant to Sister Merle throughout the years. She was a founding member and the first coordinator of Pax Christi Minnesota, as well as coordinator of the St. Cloud group for over 30 years. She was also active with the World Justice/New Jubilee committee and educated her monastic community on peace and social justice issues.

Sister Merle is survived by her Benedictine community, her sisters-in-law, Evangeline Nolde, Marianne Nolde and Shirley Nolde, as well as nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and brothers, Joseph, Gerald, Donald, Richard (+Lois) and Theodore, and her sisters Mary Miller and Elizabeth Nolde.

Please direct memorial gifts to the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict Outreach Ministries.


Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

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

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