Browsing The Northern Cross

Obituary: Benedictine Sister Mary Catherine Shambour

Sister Mary Catherine Shambour, beloved teacher, board member, historian, writer, and peacemaker, passed peacefully May 30 at St. Scholastica Monastery. Having marked the milestones of 25, 50, and 60 years of religious life, Sister Mary Catherine was in the 67th year of vowed commitment. An alumna of the College of St. Scholastica, Sister served many years on the Board of Trustees.

Sister Mary Catherine Shambour
Sister Mary Catherine Shambour

Born to Joseph Shambour and Anna (Maruska) in 1930, Sister Mary Catherine grew up on a farm near New Prague, Minnesota. In 1951 she completed a bachelor’s degree in English, entering the Benedictine community following graduation.

Sister began teaching at Stanbrook Hall and later in Cloquet, Minnesota. This was followed by nine years at Duluth’s Cathedral Senior High School and 19 years at Cathedral High School. She earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1962.

Sister Mary Catherine’s love of Russia led to an M.A.T. degree in Slavic languages from Indiana University in 1976. A pivotal experience occurred in 1980 when teaching English in Moscow and Leningrad. She writes, “I was warmly welcomed and began to see Russians with different eyes. I learned that they did not want a war with us.” Sister would serve for many years as liaison and peacemaker through research, writing, and lecturing. Her teaching ministry continued in Minnesota, where she taught Russian for 19 years. She would make 18 trips to Russia over a 33 period.

Sister Mary Catherine returned to Duluth, serving as vocation director from 2006 until 2015. More recently, she explored the intersections of God, humanity, and nature, facilitating book discussions on the writings of Pope Francis, Richard Rohr, and Ilia Delio through the Center for Spirituality & Enrichment.

Preceded in death by parents and sister-in-law, Mary Ann, Sister is survived by her community; brother, George; nieces, Patrice (Wayne) and Kathy (Steve); nephews, Roger (Jeannie) and Michael (Judy); and many cousins and grand nieces and nephews about whom she would often inquire and in whose lives she was genuinely interested. Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in June. A memorial service will take place at a later date.