Mary Anthony (Bernice) Wagner, OSB
1917 - 2002
Sister Mary Anthony (Bernice) Wagner, OSB, the second of Anton and Marie (Wagner) Wagner's three children, was born in Miesville, MN. After grade school in New Trier, MN, she came to Saint Benedict's Monastery and attended high school as aspirant and postulant. In June 1935, she graduated and entered the novitiate. On July 11, 1936, Sister professed vows.
Sister Mary Anthony taught departmentally in grades 5 to 10 at Buckman, MN, for three years, and catechetics for public school children from grades one to six in Farmington, MN, for four years, then attended St. Louis University, and in 1945 earned the B.A. degree in Religion. For two years she taught Religion in the high school at Saint Benedict's and assisted the aspirants' prefect, then went to the Catholic University, Washington, D.C., for her M.A. degree in Religious Education. From 1948 to 1954, while Director of Aspirants, she taught Theology in the College for two years and was Principal of the High School for four years. From 1954 to 1956, she attended Notre Dame University, and in 1957 earned a Doctorate in Theology.
Then, except for two years in Pierz, MN, as Memorial High School Principal and Convent Superior, Sister ministered at Saint Benedict's in the high school, college, monastery and as a source of inspiration and encouragement for individual Sisters. She taught Theology at the College for a total of 37 years and in 1991 retired from the classroom with distinction as Professor Emerita. With Father Paschal Botz, OSB, she founded the Benedictine Institute of Sacred Theology, which became Saint John's Graduate School of Theology. Here she served from 1964 to 1974 as Associate Dean and from 1974 to 1978 as Dean. For leadership in the Theology program she was presented in 1997 with a presidential citation by Saint John's University.
From 1972 to 2002, Sister was Director of the Oblates of Saint Benedict's Monastery. From 1979 until the final issue, in November 2000, she edited the national publication, Sisters Today. In 1993 Liturgical Press published her book, Sacred World of the Christian: Sensed in Faith. She has been active in Pax Christi and Amnesty-International, as retreat presenter, homilist, lecturer, ethics consultant, and often served on monastery committees. In the early 1980s, the contribution of her expertise in theology and liturgy helped effect a renovation of Sacred Heart Chapel at Saint Benedict's Monastery that reflects the Vatican II reforms.
Sister Mary Anthony Anthony, 85, died quietly and unexpectedly at Saint Scholastica Convent on September 18, 2002. She is survived by her only sister, Dolores Stoffel, St. Paul Park, MN. Her only brother is deceased. Sister Mary Anthony was a woman of the Word, formed by Scripture, a model of the Benedictine spirit, who lived in the presence of God. We are assured that she has awakened in God's likeness, knowing everlasting peace.
Tribute prepared by the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, Minnesota.