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In Memoriam: Sister Dona Obenrader, OSB

Headshot of Sister Dona Obenrader.

Sister Dona Obenrader, OSB
August 29, 1928 - August 19, 2017

Our sister, Dona, was faithful unto death
and now enjoys the gift of eternal life.

Dona never stopped seeking God
through prayer, community and service.
She was committed to her ministries of
teaching, tutoring, and offering welcome to guests.
When ill health prevented fulltime ministry
she assisted in ways that she thought were small
yet were big because they were done
with steady and selfless care.

For Dona, giving of herself was a privilege, not a duty,
and it was in the giving of herself to God and others
that she was able to find meaning and fulfillment.

May the simplicity of this woman
be a reminder to all of us
that great things are accomplished
when we live with intention and purpose,
sincerity and dedication.
In this way God will indeed be glorified
in all manner of being
now and evermore. Amen.

Sister Dona Obenrader, OSB, formerly Sister Alice Francis, age 88 and in the 65th year of her religious life, died on August 19, 2017, at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania. Born to Calvin and Viola Walburn on August 29, 1928, she was adopted at the age of two by Alice (Eisenman) and Walter Obenrader when her birth mother died unexpectedly and her birth father was unable to raise the seven children, ages 2 to 10, who were left behind. Sister Dona, entered the Benedictine Sisters of Erie from Saint Michael Parish, Fryburg, PA in 1950 and attended St. Benedict Academy. She made her first profession of vows in 1952; her perpetual profession followed in 1955.

Sister Dona held a BS in education from Mercyhurst College (1963), was permanently certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and took a number of graduate courses to enhance her education. Dedicated to her students and their parents, she was a long-time teacher in the Erie Diocese: St. Gregory, North East; Sacred Heart, Sharon; St. Joseph, Sharon; Immaculate Conception, Clarion; and Mount Calvary, Erie. After spending more than 35 years in the field of elementary education, then having worked as a school secretary and librarian at All Saints-St. John Vianney in Wickliffe, OH, as well as an adult tutor at St. Benedict Education Center, a ministry of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Sister Dona engaged in the ministry of hospitality as a monastery switchboard attendant. This ministry was in complete alignment with her favorite verse in the Rule of Benedict (53:1): “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).” Time and time again, Sister Dona reached out to the guests who found their way to the monastery and for many years she offered them a kind and caring welcome. All the while her hands were never idle; she enjoyed crocheting and was also known for her plastic canvas stitched creations. In 2004 Sister Dona began her volunteer ministry in the community’s Development Office, a ministry she continued until shortly before her death. In addition Sister Dona was faithful to the ministry of prayer and presence. Day in and day out Sister Dona found ways to give of herself; for her, this giving was not a duty but a privilege.

Sister Dona was predeceased by the members of her family. She is survived by her Erie Benedictine Community. Services will take place at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery: Visitation, Tuesday, 2:00– 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday, 2:00 – 5:00 p.m., a Service of Memories on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. and a Mass of Christian Burial on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Interment will be on Thursday at 8:15 a.m. in Trinity Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, 6101 East Lake Road, Erie, Pennsylvania 16511. Brugger Funeral Homes and Crematory, Pine Avenue Branch, 845 East 38th Street, is in charge of the arrangements.

Memorials may be made to the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, 6101 East Lake Road, Erie, PA 16511. Click here to offer an online memorial.