Making St. Benedict Proud: Mount Angel Seminary Welcomes Sister Gertrude
Sister Gertrude Feick explains a concept to seminarian Frank Villanueva.
by Bryce Lungren
Mount Angel Seminary has always been dedicated to providing seminarians with a superb education. An excellent example of this scholarly pride is the recent appointment of Sister Gertrude Feick, O.S.B. (Order of Saint Benedict) as an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies.
Sister Gertrude has just completed three years of study at the Angelicum, a Pontifical University in Rome, where she has been working on earning her Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL) in Spiritual Theology.
This fall semester, Sister Gertrude is teaching Introduction to Christian Spirituality as well as assisting in Liturgy Documents. Next spring, she is scheduled to teach Historical Introduction to Theology, Christian Spirituality and Practicum, and to team-teach Theology of Liturgy with Fr. Paschal Cheline, O.S.B.
Sister Gertrude explained how the bar has been raised for those involved in seminary education. No longer is it just priests and religious teaching theology; it is whoever is most qualified, which is often lay professors. In this regard, one could say that seminary employment is not much different than corporate America, which Sister Gertrude knew well before entering Queen of Angels Monastery eleven years ago.
However, unlike the competitive business world, Mount Angel Seminary professors collaborate to bring out the best in one another. Sister Gertrude said that Mount Angel Seminary is such a wonderful environment to work in because “you can find people who are very willing to support and help a person to do what he or she needs to do. In my case, I’m still trying to finish my degree.”
Sister Gertrude, who has also taught in secular institutions, said that she would not want to go back to teaching in a public school. “What interests me,” she said, “is to be in this type of setting and work for God and the Church.”
One of the positive challenges Sister Gertrude has found in teaching is the continual education she must undergo in order to be prepared for her students, although, she said, “what a privilege for me too, because I have to study in order to teach. It’s not as if I already know it all.” A seminary professor gets the double duty; they’re a teacher and also a student.
Fr. Paschal, the Director of Spiritual Formation at Mount Angel Seminary, considers Sister Gertrude to be a good friend who is entertaining and enjoyable to be around. He also said that “we are blessed to have her on the faculty because she takes her classes and her work very seriously and is really concerned that her students gain knowledge in this realm of spirituality.”
Sister Gertrude plans to return to Rome this spring to complete the requirements for her STL, which includes comprehensive exams. She hopes to continue teaching at Mount Angel Seminary in the years to come but is quick to state: “I also know, because I’ve had enough working and life experience, that anything can change. There are no guarantees in life."