August 4, 1931 – March 30, 2023
Sister Benita Hassler, 91, passed into eternal life on March 30, 2023, at Grangeville Health and Rehabilitation, Grangeville. She had been a Benedictine sister for 74 years.
Sister Benita was born in Wolf Point, Mont., on Aug. 4, 1931, to George and Veronica Brost Hassler. She entered the Monastery of St. Gertrude in 1949. She embraced monastic life and soon began a 55-year teaching career – including 30 years in Idaho Catholic schools – where she could express her love of art, music, and language.
Sister Benita credits her mother as her biggest influence. “She showed me by her example many monastic values, especially her seemingly unlimited love for each member of her family and her voluntarily simple lifestyle.” Her mother was also a teacher, in a one-room country school in Montana, and eventually entered the Monastery of St. Gertrude 16 years after her daughter – as Sister Veronica.
In 1963, Sister Benita was among the first to be missioned to Bogotá, Colombia, to teach in the newly built Colegio San Carlos. Sister Benita taught art and music in the primary and secondary schools there. Once back in Idaho, Sister Benita began teaching Spanish and English in the public high schools in Rupert and Caldwell. In 1984, she was named “Most Outstanding Foreign Language Teacher in Idaho” and was celebrated for her contagious enthusiasm and ability to motivate.
In 2000, Sister Benita became a volunteer, teaching English, GED and computer skills to Hispanic families. She and former student John Irwin also initiated a program that provided recycled computers for her students.
In her later years, Sister Benita rose early to write, compose music or paint. During the day, she helped the sisters in the infirmary email their families and friends.
Sister Benita is survived by extended family members, and her Benedictine sisters.
The rosary vigil will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 1, in the chapel at the Monastery of St. Gertrude. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:15 am on Tuesday, May 2, in the chapel.
Blackmer Funeral Home in Grangeville (blackmerfuneralhome.com), is in charge of arrangements. Memorial gifts can be made to the Monastery of St. Gertrude, 465 Keuterville Road, Cottonwood, Idaho 83522, or via the website: stgertrudes.org/donate/