Rosina Baumgartner and Molly Brockwell

Recorded August 13, 2009 Archived August 13, 2009 41:33 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: dde000306


Sister Rosina Baumgartner, O.S.B. (87) tells her sister in community, Sister Molly Brockwell, O.S.B. (46), of her decision to join the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica and describes the changes she saw in the community with the coming of Vatican II.

Subject Log / Time Code

Sister Rosina describes her childhood in Atchison, KS, and her decision to enter the Mount St. Scholastica community.
Sister Rosina remembers her classmates upon entering monastic life in 1944 and shares her novitiate stories.
The women remember The Great Impostor.
Sister Rosina describes the changes she saw during Vatican II, including the end of the coif.
Sister Rosina tells Sister Molly of the increasing freedom sisters found during Vatican II, particularly the freedom to control their own finances and earnings.
Sister Rosina remembers her travels to the Holy Land


  • Rosina Baumgartner
  • Molly Brockwell

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type



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00:04 My name is Sister Molly Brockwell. I am 46 years old today is August 12th 13th 13th days fly August 13th 2009 and we are in Dooley Center at Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas, and I am going to be interviewing.

00:30 My partner who is the sister of mine in the community.

00:35 And I'm sister Rosina Baumgartner and on 87.

00:43 August 13th 2009

00:49 And I'm in Do It Center?

00:52 At Mount St. Scholastica, and I'm a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica. Just like mine.

01:05 Wonderful

01:07 So

01:09 Rosina to start to start off tell me a little bit about

01:17 About your family growing up. Where did you where were you born? And where did you grow up?

01:23 I was born in Atchison, Kansas and I grew up here. I went from the Catholic grade school, which was two and a half blocks away.

01:35 For 8 years when I went out to

01:40 Academy St. Scholastica Academy and I went to the college to so I went straight through wasn't one of the people that had to go to summer school for 20 years to get a degree.

01:59 That that's so so many people. That's what they ended up doing. So you you graduated from college before you entered the Community House.

02:10 And how did you how did you decide to enter the community when I was 10 years old Baumgartner my dead sister. She was dying in the Infirmary.

02:30 And she said you're going to take my place and I said I am not but then when I was 16, my brother George boss to say leg in a farm accident.

02:47 And my mother and dad suffered so much.

02:51 Of course, we all suffered but I decided I wasn't anxious to be a parent watching them suffer.

02:59 Rites of battling it through the night when I was a freshman in college. I thought I better answer but are priests. He encouraged me to wait till I finish with college and I did.

03:15 So your aunt was a sister here at the mount.

03:20 Two other ants to two other ants also what's your first memory of being at the mount? What's something you remember from when you were a little child about them out?

03:33 I remember coming out and visiting.

03:37 And

03:39 Going from one covered brick.

03:45 To the next one and having everybody watch me. So how old do you think you were when when that memory I guess around 2 O my or 3 that's an early early memory.

04:04 So you were here fairly often even growing up because yes, my mother sister sister ever rolled up Sister. Cirilla Miller believed in having us come out and visit every Sunday, but first Sunday for Sunday was

04:24 Be private we should pray.

04:27 So we came out every Sunday all summer long.

04:32 And we didn't know I didn't always want to come out every send it but we did yes. So we've kind of return to that customer first. Sunday's being being quiet days are private days.

04:47 And we have brunch to on first Sunday and we were told my friends that we would try it out.

04:55 Once a month and we've been having it more and I have said to Sister Angela. I thought we were going to vote on that and she said oh, I forgot to say something, but I'll keep after.

05:13 Are you do you like brunch or not? I don't like it either.

05:17 I'm too hungry. I got to get to hungry in about 3:30 in the afternoon. I just feel like I haven't eaten all day while I don't feel like I like it either so, okay, we'll both vote against brunch. But so even though you're at your aunt said you're going to come here. You weren't quite convinced. It took you a little while. What about your early years in the community? What are some some memories of who are your classmates?

05:53 All right Sister Mary Christian Norma Hans.

06:01 Cartaz and Walter C guide to recently she was in Colorado. Yes, Sophie. She's still alive in Colorado Mary Joyce.

06:14 Mary Catherine Taylor

06:20 That's it because

06:23 We've lost about 4, that's a good-sized class.

06:28 And what year did you enter 44?

06:33 44000 January 1st and 46th and we celebration or 50th and 96.

06:43 Yes.

06:45 That's that's wonderful. Wonderful. So, do you have any good though? Novitiate stories are what do you remember from those from those early years as a young sister about life in community?

07:05 Another bad story. I remember Sister Mary Christina.

07:11 Lives not too far from here and the train came by and her mother sent her some fresh meat.

07:20 And sister, Josephine

07:23 Work in the habit of

07:25 Well when she would get we would get candy. She put it in the cupboard to save it and we would have prayers after dinner after we had Chapel up in the new ways to it and she would say it.

07:45 Maybe I should give you some candy.

07:49 But she didn't so that fresh meats at in there.

07:58 When did she discovers the error of her horrible? I told you it was a horrible story. That is a horrible story. So out your ministry and when you first went out to work as a sister. What where did you go? What was your first Ministry first place? I went was Millard South High School, big Louis and Kansas City.

08:35 And I was scared to death.

08:40 So I was not a success.

08:44 They can be tough love kids.

08:48 And so did you teach high school for a bunch of years or did you also teach grade school on Todd Creek School?

09:00 Most of the time but in Salisbury I was teaching great school, but band.

09:08 Import

09:10 Both said that the great School in the high school now. Is there an interesting story about something that happened when you were in Salisbury? I'm at the great impostor the great impostor. You got it. You got to tell us more.

09:27 Well, you came to my door and I didn't know if it was told me it was brother Frederick.

09:35 And a blonde with an extra Medical Group in Wayne, Missouri.

09:41 That was only about 17 or 20 miles away, but they would be coming on Ash Wednesday.

09:50 Until each one of them had a turn leading the service.

09:56 But you wanted the band to play and he was going to be the first one. So that's why you stopped by to see me cuz he wanted the band why he didn't know what he was doing asking me that I have a whole band play when I didn't have the parts.

10:10 I told him we have some kind of always have something for him.

10:17 And then Saturday morning the Kansas City Times.

10:22 And the headline on the front page great impostor seeks the quiet life.

10:30 So we had a big crowd as Wednesday. Oh, my everybody was curious to see him.

10:39 So people knew that he was not who he said he was but

10:47 Was was this after he kind of been found out?

10:53 What what what happened when there was a man there that belong to the community and he and his family lived in a mobile home.

11:06 But father storming the priest who is head of the Enterprise dismissed him because he had Sticky Fingers. Haha. So you goes to the Kansas City Times give the story.

11:21 Oh, my you know, my dad also has a story about the great impostor and same as sister Lucille. That's when they were students in at subiaco down in Arkansas high school students that the great impostor came through there.

11:42 And passed himself off as as a priest and my dad says, oh the monks said he read Latin so beautifully your everyone love to have him do the reading and he was 9 just real charismatic and that people would go along with it. And I think is it Lucille tells her brother said that he motioned him over one day and said you listened real closely and I'll put your name in the reading so in the middle of this reading of Latin there was something about you know, whoever it was was from borengasser..... And that was that was his last name, but what an amazing man. Do you know, he must have been very talented to pass himself off as so many different things. Well, I read a book. I am at summer and he had been in Texas and a prison.

12:39 Where he was a warden supposedly?

12:43 But as Warden, he was able to quell a riot.

12:49 Yeah, so I mean he had talents too, but I guess not the patience to go through the right channels to do these things while I'm at least they made him too. He's operating know he's pulling a tooth and he's running to a book in between to see how to do it though. When did when did it come out about him? I mean, what years was this like that you were in Salisbury 6266 now it was through the forties and fifties and into the 60s. I'm in. My dad also talks about him being on.

13:36 I think it was the Jack Paar show at the time or you know where Johnny Carson or something. I was just fascinating. There's also an episode of mash remember the the show about the Korean War every times than that one episode was on dad would tell his great impostor stories cuz there's a fellow that comes through some crack surgeon, but come to find out he's not really a surgeon so it's kind of based on his story. It was really cute.

14:08 So that's that's great.

14:12 What other fun are or what is their stories do you have from your from your Days Inn in Ministry it in teaching in the classroom.

14:22 Have any other teaching stories to tell?

14:29 Well

14:31 I'd like to tell Mary Paul Story. Please do about Sister Mary Mary, Austin.

14:38 Mary Austin was teaching first grade in Kansas City, Kansas and after lunch. She always read to her class.

14:49 But before she read she said I want you to pay attention to the morale because there's a lesson here for you boys and girls and boys.

15:01 So

15:03 Mary Austin was called back to the mount for something. I don't know what for.

15:10 What is the sisters of a second grade teacher asked a first grader?

15:17 Well, what do you think about your new teacher?

15:22 She's all right, but she doesn't have any morals.

15:30 Oh my yeah, that'll be tough. And that was Mary Paul that didn't have any morals. That was Mary Paul store in Poteau. Okay with Mary Austin. She love that Harrison lots of good ones. So

15:47 When did you when did you go from teaching into pastoral Ministry? Cuz that's what you were doing when I came to community.

16:04 71

16:08 I was doing Religious Ed and going around visiting people on my own.

16:17 And then

16:19 I saw.

16:23 Where

16:25 Appendix was looking for someone.

16:30 I wrote a letter know I wrote a letter to the deanery saying I was interested in doing it cuz Gabriel told me about it.

16:41 Well father will through the pastor of st. Benedict's promptly sent me a letter.

16:48 And so when I came home I said I got this letter from father Alfred. Is that all right?

16:55 Mother Mary Austin, she said sure it's all right, so I didn't have to interview or do anything and he let me make my own job wonderful unfortunate that way cuz that's what you get that you were working at st. Benedict's when I entered the community and I know so many people in this town are grateful for your for your presence and your your care and attention grade in high school, but I felt fulfilled.

17:36 Yes in pastoral Ministry. I'm so glad you found found the spot unit cuz it is it so important to feel like what you're doing is a good a good fit with the gifts that you have and I know every anytime I've talked to you, but I heard you talking about the parish and there's something alive in you when you talk about that time, and that's and the people

18:06 So that was 71. That was were there other sisters working in in pastoral Ministry at that point or were you one of the first?

18:20 I was really up in.

18:24 Beatrice Nebraska for 4 years

18:28 Christmas

18:30 It's Christmas time Gabriel Rita Claire.

18:37 It was a group that was in pastoral Ministry and we had a meeting.

18:43 Out at the lake house

18:48 I know I wasn't very happy.

18:53 With the pastor

18:57 Nebraska

19:05 I thought about applying to The Sisters of Charity. They had a peace and Justice office and I wrote there.

19:14 But after being with the sisters

19:18 At the lake house. I thought no I want to stay in pastoral Ministry.

19:23 That's good. It seemed to work well.

19:28 So the time of Vatican II lots of changes in there. How would you describe that time for you?

19:44 From mother Celeste said we probably she knew we can get rid of.

19:50 The court will never get rid of that course.

19:55 Put that was the first thing to go.

20:02 And my sister

20:05 Made it black princess dress for me.

20:11 In January 1st

20:14 I don't remember what year it was, but still at 60th and we had a style store.

20:22 And there were 12 of us.

20:24 The first ones in the community to model clothes

20:30 So I didn't have any trouble getting rid of the court. I would think that coif and I've had it on a few times for like a you know demonstration or or in a performance kind of thing. I would have been a grease spot on the pavement. I mean, it's so heavy and hot and I sweat so much I had to wear at a week. Yeah.

21:01 It was Alexia William. It was a linen.

21:08 Peace that they made tiny little pleats and then shaped it. So it was it kind of fit your heads or like a chainmail helmet is all pin together. And then this collar kind of thing of these plates. It was beautiful. But if you seen The Sound of Music

21:33 Gross you she's nodding. Yes. Well those sisters hit on Okoye. Yeah, and it's it's the the white part down here. And when when you sweat the pleats Come Undone and people talk about getting a goiter cuz it would kind of balloon out but I would get yelled. So yeah.

21:57 So I am not sad that the habits went by the wayside for us. Well, everybody wasn't pleased with that.

22:09 I remember Kathleen Asian was hoping we go to a uniform suit.

22:16 So that everyone would still be pretty much the same, but but not in the medieval dress.

22:25 So all I meant to ask you earlier is Rosina your religious name or your baptismal name?

22:34 Or both sexes my religious name. I was baptized Mary Theresa Mary Theresa of the Blessed Virgin and the Little Flower. Okay, the Little Flower Teresa.

22:48 Rosina you were named for your I'm sure you received that for your aunt, you know, we met in her memory and K.

22:56 Mike's Aunt sister everilda came from Germany when she was 12 with my dad. She was Rosina.

23:07 My grandmother in Germany was Rosina.

23:11 My sister Rosina and Arlington, Texas has bone cancer.

23:20 And she named.

23:23 Her daughter Rosina only she goes by Zena. So there are a whole bunch of roses in the family. Yes. That's great.

23:39 So I told one of the people who worked in.

23:45 She was trying to get my name I said where you won't forget my name because I don't tell you all the people.

23:53 All the all the ones in the family and a whole bunch of them were Rosina Baumgartner.

24:00 That would be your grandmother and your aunt and your sister and you my grandmother.

24:10 Rosina Krause cuz my grandfather died and louder with six children in Germany.

24:19 And she had to marry.

24:22 To support herself on my and then

24:28 My dad

24:30 Ambrosina 12 they came because I didn't like the new dad.

24:39 I said he was mean he got drunk on Sunday afternoon.

24:46 So how old was your father when he came 14?

24:51 Sew-in how did he get to Atchison?

24:54 What brought him to Atchison?

24:57 Well after mess every Sunday.

25:02 The server says with a cup outside of church.

25:09 To get some money for

25:15 I don't know if it was King Louis is Mission Society.

25:20 And all these people came over to Atchison.

25:25 Is that King Ludwig or that's so we were that the missions?

25:33 So that was his he's so he'd heard of Atchison that way and sister Brianna was already here.

25:42 So there was some family already here a couple of other sisters that were here not real, but they were here.

25:54 That's good. So

26:01 What's the talking? I'm moving back to Vatican II.

26:09 What would you save is what difference is stand out to you as far as our life before Vatican II and after Vatican II before Vatican II we were treated like children.

26:26 In what way what how are we what was the say little more what you had to ask permission to do everything?

26:35 And

26:37 If you want somewhere the superior kept the tickets.

26:42 She might not even tell you where you were going.

26:46 Who's the black Porter on the train?

26:50 Set

26:53 East ladies awful nice, but days never knows worst days going.

27:03 Yeah.

27:05 We didn't have any money.

27:08 Spend

27:10 We didn't know what we were getting paid for in the schools.

27:16 And I remember telling my class so I didn't have money $0.05.

27:22 4 bottle of Pop

27:27 I knew you were horrified. We did get pop for $0.05 but I didn't have enough Medical Supply on it.

27:37 Sew-in in that changed

27:42 That changed so that week.

27:46 We had a little money ourselves.

27:49 I'm so excited when I was at st. Bernadette's in Kansas City, Missouri.

27:56 We're going to go to the movie.

27:59 On Sunday afternoon

28:02 And the sister who had been the superior wanted each one of us to give her the money so she could buy our tickets.

28:13 I wouldn't give it to her cuz I was going to buy my ticket myself.

28:18 But that changed because I was glad to have somebody why I'm still standing in line with all six of us.

28:31 So that was a that was a welcome change having a little more responsibility and being given responsibility and treated like you were able to handle it.

28:43 Can you briefly explain the Vatican 2?

28:50 Well Vatican II was in the 1960s the pope called together all of the Bishops and Cardinals from around the world every every once in awhile. It has been more than a hundred years. I think since the previous Vatican Council to discuss matters of the church and where they need to go and what Pope John XXIII who called Vatican II it was John XXIII what he was the one that called for this Council and he said we need to throw open the the windows and that's it.

29:39 Blow blow through and freshen up the church.

29:43 So it was very much a call to get back to the roots of our faith and for religious communities, especially we all we all have different stories every Community has different history and different purpose for being founded but we kind of threw the years gotten lumped together and treated as a homogeneous group and he wanted us to go back to the spirit of the founder.

30:11 And see what what changes we need needed to make to be true to the spirit of the founder changes in the broader Church were moving the changing the Liturgy from Latin to whatever the language was of the people. The renewal in the Liturgy was was extensive to I think most people that was the biggest change they saw

30:36 But a frozen Community, I hear lots of stories. I was born in the middle of Vatican II so I don't remember pre-vatican II.

30:47 Anything to add Rosina?

30:50 Well

30:52 Go ahead and something in my mind and it kind of left.

30:56 Let me know when if it if it pops back up. Sometimes they do.

31:02 But that I love that image of opening the the windows and letting the Holy Spirit blow through and freshen things up and bring new life. And I think that's that's what change does for us. Not just change for the sake of change but change that we need to breathe new life as religious women.

31:30 Our founders

31:32 St. Benedict

31:35 He said

31:38 Or at Hobart more pray and work but everybody looked at just a Benedictine as teachers. So we got into other things depending on the gift of the person who answered. Yes that's been really important because so many people have stories, you know of finding the teaching was not a good fit for them. It wasn't the best use of their gifts and

32:13 For us to be able to do lots of kinds of work lots of it, you know different kinds of labora as long as we're continuing the prayer and life and Community brings us to life and in some really good ways.

32:33 And

32:34 Another thing we live in community. So we're really monastics more so than amongst to go out one by one two parishes. That's very true and often times. I think the sisters

32:55 Get I don't know people look at us as as not as monastics either because we're not in the habit or because we don't have a Cloister.

33:06 And yet wherever we are, I think our Cloister goes with us. So, you know, it's it's the space we create to live community and to make the space for prayer, even if we are out side of that for all of our work and I I think of like I lived on a piece house and

33:30 We have Community there and we pray together and then we come and share our days and it's not a Cloister with a in a big wall around it. But that's space where where are unity crows.

33:43 So the

33:50 So

33:53 What do you what are some?

33:58 Good memories for you if you gotten to do any travel in your life, what's some?

34:10 But then my dad wanted to take me to Germany in 1981.

34:18 And then I live with Nicole and Andrea.

34:23 And Nicole have been in the Holy Land.

34:26 And she decided that would be a good thing to go to the Holy Land.

34:32 And she said let's pray early every morning. We were living at 1021 North 3rd here in Atchison.

34:42 And see yourself there.

34:46 In Jerusalem

34:49 Well, I thought how can I see myself out there?

34:53 Cuz I had never seen it, but we tried to imagine.

34:58 And so

35:01 We got free.

35:05 Sister Noreen told us we could go but we do have to

35:11 Litters that would pay her way

35:15 So we got 45 people the first year.

35:19 All of us for 45 together and then the next year. I told sister Mina my cousin out in, Colorado.

35:29 And she got 17 people after so we ended up with 76 people. Oh my gosh.

35:41 235

35:44 But I was really scared sometime cuz we had to have five.

35:50 Couldn't get for what so I can get.

35:55 And I thought well as Lord.

35:58 Maybe I'm not supposed to go.

36:01 I got real quiet like I dread.

36:05 I don't know what I was saying. So I go or not go Full Speed Ahead. That's that's wonderful. We work hard though. You get them. The first year was the best.

36:24 How did it feel to be in the Holy Land?

36:29 Well going up on.

36:33 Going up on the bus.

36:38 The first time

36:40 We were seeing some dealing with some 122.

36:49 We shall go up if I was crying so it felt wonderful.

37:01 I agree and there was something about it and praying the Psalms ever since I was there there were times when the images in the sights and

37:14 That the churches were beautiful but there was something just about being in the land and thinking Jesus saw his son playing on the Hills just like I'm seeing and yeah, it's a powerful experience in and I didn't realize how many of the Psalms.

37:34 Would speak to me of the land until I've been there and came back and pray them in all the memories that come it's beautiful.

37:45 Well, we probably need to think about coming to a suitable and hear of this little visit.

37:56 One thing

38:01 When you meet God.

38:04 Whenever that day comes

38:08 What do you want to say?

38:11 When you are standing or sitting sitting across the table from from God in heaven, what do you think? You'll want to say?

38:26 Well, I'm happy to be here if I wasn't so sure. I always make it.

38:38 What do you think God's going to say to you?

38:44 Hope he says I had no worries.

38:50 So, how do you want to be remembered?

39:00 I haven't thought of that one.

39:03 Pulling one on your hair.

39:08 Cuz here's what I'll remember.

39:11 I will remember.

39:15 Someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to be of service to other people whose heart is always open to meeting other people and to responding to what it is. They need in that moment. I've always experienced you as very kind and caring and thank you though. I don't know which feel kind well.

39:45 Yeah from the inside. It's I think I know I focus more on the not-so-great aspects, but those are the things that I will remember about you Rosalina.

39:58 Thank you, and also that you never quit learning.

40:03 I see in you a great desire for for knowledge and you know reading and or last year when we had the retreat from Anne McCarthy.

40:19 And you were right up front with every every conference and it was just it if your thirst for what she had to say was evident and I couldn't hear any other. So I need to be up front when it's in the end. You weren't satisfied with saying well, I'll just kind of do my own thing. It's but I see you wanting to get to know and understand and I just I hope that that's something I can continue to do in my life, too.

40:51 You will.

40:54 Anything else you want to say or want to say to me?

40:58 Well, I've been very nice getting to know you today. I've enjoyed it to Rosina. I will remember you and not be afraid to say something. Good good.

41:16 So I appreciate you putting your hand up as soon as soon as I asked.

41:24 Wonderful. Thank you.

41:29 Welcome.