Browsing The Northern Cross

Obituaries December 2014

The Northern Cross


Sister Monica Laughlin, music specialist, 92

Sister Monica (Donalda) Laughlin, OSB, 92, died Oct. 22, at St. Scholastica Monastery. She was the daughter of James and Margaret (Dillon) Laughlin, born on Sept. 1, 1922, in Iron Mountain, Mich. Sister Monica was in her 66th year of monastic profession.

Sister Monica’s musical abilities were significant by the time she attended Iron Mountain High School, where she played piano, clarinet and snare drum in the high school band and orchestra. Her father referred to her as “our one-girl band.”

Following her graduation from high school in 1940, she attended the College of St. Scholastica from 1940 to 1941. From there she transferred to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, earning a bachelor’s degree in music education in 1944. She then was employed for two years as director of music in the public schools of Fowlerville, Mich.

In 1947, Sister Monica entered the Duluth Benedictine Monastery as a postulant. She professed her triennial vows on July 11, 1948, and her perpetual vows on July 11, 1951. During her time as a postulant, she began teaching in the music department at the College of St. Scholastica and continued to do so for the next 60 years, serving as music department chair from 1954 to 1975.

She also served as director of orchestra for Stanbrook Hall High School from 1946 to 1954. During these years of teaching, Sister Monica nourished and inspired music students of all ages. She instilled confidence and developed the unique talents of her students, taking great pride in them and their accomplishments. She was director of St. Scholastica Monastery Schola Cantorum from 1951 to 1955, 1960 to 1966 and 1994 to 2006. Her wealth of talent as a musical director, composer and performer, and her love for Gregorian chant, added extraordinary beauty to the liturgies of the Benedictine Sisters for many years.

Sister Monica earned a master’s degree in music education from Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, in 1956, and a doctor of musical arts degree from the University of Southern California in 1967, when she also received the Phi Kappa Phi award for best dissertation in music education. In 1987, Sister Monica received the prestigious Max Lavine Award for Teaching Excellence from the College of St. Scholastica. Sister Monica played E-Flat clarinet for many years with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra and was recorder soloist for the Duluth-Superior Chamber Orchestra, on tour 1972.

Active in both academic and civic affairs, she served as a member of the Duluth-Superior Symphony Association Board of Trustees, Matinee Musicale, the Cecilian Society and many other local and state music associations.

She also served her Benedictine Community as a member of the St. Mary’s Medical Center board for many years, including chair, 1991 to 1992. She was a member of the St. Mary’s/Duluth Clinic Board, 1997 to 2007.

Sister Monica was preceded in death by her parents, James and Margaret, and her brothers, William and Thomas. She is survived by her sister, Sister Margaret James Laughlin, the other Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery and by nieces, nephews, colleagues, relatives and friends.

Her visitation/wake service/evening prayer was held Oct. 31, at Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel, St. Scholastica Monastery. The Mass of Christian Burial was Nov. 1. The Rite of Committal to the Earth was held at Gethsemane Cemetery. Memorials to St. Scholastica Monastery are preferred.


Sister Mary Richard Boo, former St. Scholastica president, 85

Sister Mary Richard Boo, 85, prominent in higher education, died peacefully on Nov. 13, at Essentia Health East St. Mary’s Medical Center.

Margaret (Margie) Boo was born on June 20, 1929, in Pine City, the third child of Clinton and Julia (Hurley) Boo. After graduating from Pine City High School in 1947, she enrolled at the College of St. Scholastica. In January 1952, she entered the Benedictine Community of St. Scholastica.

She professed her triennial vows on July 11, 1953, and perpetual vows on July 11, 1956.

Sister Mary Richard graduated in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of St. Scholastica; subsequently, she earned a master’s degree from St. Louis University in 1960 and a doctorate from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, in 1966, both in English, with minors in journalism, philosophy, art and history. Her master’s thesis was a study of the poetics of Emily Dickinson; her dissertation, “Dickenson’s Myth of Society.”

A brilliant teacher with a cogent sense of humor and keen understanding of and compassion for her students, Sister Mary Richard spent the first 10 years of her professional career as a teacher of English, art and journalism at Stanbrook Hall High School, Duluth. From 1961 to 1963, then again in 1966, she served as an assistant professor and chair of the Department of English at the College of St. Scholastica. After a period of postdoctoral study in administration at Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., Sister Mary Richard returned to the College of St. Scholastica as its president from 1967 to 1971.

During Sister Mary Richard’s presidency, she oversaw several accomplishments significant in the growth of the college, among them: the construction of the science building; the beginning of co-education at the college; the establishment of a board of trustees, which included lay members as well as sisters; and the initiation of a faculty-student senate.

After Sister Mary Richard’s resignation as college president in 1971, she remained at the college as a professor in the Department of Language and Literature. From 1979 to 1980, she served as chair of that department; then from 1981 to 1985, as chair of the Humanities Division.

After receiving the College of St. Scholastica’s Max H. Lavine Award for Excellence in Teaching, she also served on the Lavine Award Committee.

Sister Mary Richard was also active in civic and Benedictine Community affairs. She chaired the Benedictine Health Center Board of Directors and served on the Board of Directors of Advocacy Plus (consulting services for the handicapped) in St. Cloud. She served on the monastery council, and from 1991 to 1995 was secretary of the Benedictine Sisters; from 2008 to 2011 she wrote the “Annals” for the monastery. After her retirement in 1994 she continued as a freelance writer and editor and was a major contributor to the text of “For the Love of Learning: the College of St. Scholastica Story” (2011).

Undoubtedly Sister Mary Richard’s best and most widely known publication is the candid history, “House of Stone: The Duluth Benedictines” (1991).

Sister Mary Richard was preceded in death by her parents and her brothers Richard and Daniel Boo. She is survived by her sister Julie Boo, CSJ, of St. Paul, cousins, including Ben and Mary Boo of Duluth, several nieces, nephews, friends and her monastic community.

A wake service/morning prayer was held Nov. 19, in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel, St. Scholastica Monastery. Visitation followed until the Mass of Christian Burial. The Rite of Committal to the Earth was at Gethsemane Cemetery. Memorials to St. Scholastica Monastery are preferred.