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Sister Martha Esser

March 20, 1907-Dec. 4, 2007

Becker County native Sister Martha Esser, 100, of Crookston, died December 4, 2007 at Villa Saint Vincent Nursing Home, Crookston, where she had resided since May 2003.

Emma Ann Esser was born to Henry and Anna (Schmitz) Esser on March 20, 1907, at Two Inlets, the third child in a family of 10; five boys and five girls.

When Emma was seven years old, she became very ill and was given the privilege of making her First Holy Communion.

Emma attended school in Two Inlets. Even at an early age she thought about becoming a sister. The first prioress of the newly-formed Mount Saint Benedict community, Mother Eustacia Beyenka, came to visit the parish, and she invited Emma to join the community. On March 24, 1924, Emma entered the novitiate and was given the name Sister Martha. She made her final profession of vows Dec. 31, 1928. Later, her two younger sisters, Hilda (Sister Lucy) and Martha (Sister Imelda) also joined the monastic community.

Sister Martha served as dietitian at Saint Vincent Hospital, Crookston; Saint Mary's Hospital, Detroit Lakes; Mount Saint Benedict Monastery and the Diocesan Chancery, Crookston, as well as at convents in East Grand Forks, Red Lake Falls, Mahnomen, Moorhead and Thief River Falls.

Sister Martha's diamond jubilee of profession, June 29, 1985, was celebrated at St. Mary's Parish, Two Inlets, with a Polka Mass offered near the church at the Lourdes Grotto. In 2005 she celebrated 80 years of monastic profession.

After retiring, Sister Martha lived with the sisters at Saint John's Convent, Red Lake Falls, where she helped prepare meals and had time to relax and enjoy her hobbies of knitting, embroidering, putting together jig-saw puzzles and listening to music. Her greatest joy was to make others happy.

In 1995, Sister Martha moved to Good Shepherd Hall, the monastic healthcare center. Here she still joined the monastic community for prayer and an occasional game of cards. She was overjoyed when she received a TV from one of her friends. She transferred to the Villa in May 2003. Sister Martha continued putting jig-saw puzzles together. It was always a joy to visit her because she always had lovely smile for everyone and a blessing for all who stopped in.

Surviving Sister Martha is her brother, Michael (Donna) Esser of Mankato, Minn.; the members of her monastic community; and several nieces and nephews.

Preceding her in death were her parents; four sisters, Sister Lucy, Sister Imelda, Cecelia Resch and Walburga Solinger; and four brothers, William, Joseph, Leo and Henry.

Visitation for Sister Martha will be from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, with a prayer service at 6:30 p.m.. in the chapel of Mount Saint Benedict Monastery.

A mass of Christian burial is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 10 at Mt. St. Benedict, with Msgr. Roger Grundhaus as the celebrant and homilist. Arrangements have been entrusted to Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home, Crookston.

Memorials in honor of Sister Martha Esser can be given to Mount Saint Benedict Foundation, 620 Summit Avenue, Crookston, MN 56716.