Sister Claudia Riehl, OSB, 88, died February 26, 2015, at St. Scholastica Monastery. Born in Raleigh, North Dakota on February 13, 1927, she was the daughter of Melchior and Emma (Wagner) Riehl. Sister was in her 67th year of Monastic Profession.
Sister Claudia was raised on the family farm in North Dakota, one of seven children of devout Catholic parents. During these years she developed a profound sense of being in relationship with her family and with God. She graduated from Flasher High School in 1944, and entered St. Scholastica Monastery as a Postulant on January 8, 1946. She professed Triennial Vows on July 11, 1947 and Perpetual Vows on July 11, 1950.
In 1948-52 Sister Claudia began her teaching career at St. Anthony School in Duluth and continued to teach from 1952-7 at Our Lady of Victory, Minneapolis. From 1957-65 she taught at St. Thomas School, Phoenix. She was principal and teacher at Assumption School in Hibbing from 1965-67. She received her BS degree in Education from The College of St. Scholastica and an MA in Religious Education (Scripture concentration) at Immaculate Heart College, Los Angeles. Other graduate studies included programs at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, in education; the University of Minnesota Duluth, in Counseling; Summer Session Iliff School of Theology, Denver, Colorado in Scripture; and St. John’s University Collegeville, Minnesota in Scripture.
Sister Claudia was Novice Director at St. Scholastica Monastery from 1967-1970. She served as an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies/Psychology at The College of St. Scholastica from 1970-82, where she taught Scripture classes and Group Dynamics. In 1978, she co-led a six-week study tour of Israel, Turkey, Greece, and Italy, giving lectures at the biblical sites. Sister also participated in The College of St. Scholastica’s Irish Studies Program from March 3, 1982 – May 6, 1982. She served her monastic community as a member of the Monastery Initial Formation Team, as the Director of Monastery Volunteers, as Circulation Coordinator in the Monastery Development Office, and as Director of Human Resources. She celebrated her Silver Jubilee on July 11, 1972, her Golden Jubilee on July 11, 1997, and her Diamond Jubilee on August 12, 2007.
Sister Claudia served on a number of Boards and in other administrative positions, including the Benedictine Health Center, The College of St. Scholastica, the Duluth Diocese Coordinator for Ecumenical and Interfaith Dialogue, Woodland Hills Juvenile Rehabilitation, Duluth, St. Mary’s Regional Health Center, Detroit Lakes, the Arrowhead Council of Churches, and St. Francis Regional Medical Center and St. Gertrude’s Health and Rehabilitation Center, Shakopee.
In 1991 the Prioress of St. Scholastica Monastery requested that Sister Claudia become Director of Mission Integration at the Benedictine Health System (BHS), a newly formed position. After giving it some thought and prayer, Sister made a decision, “I believe I could do that.” And she did for nearly twenty years with exceptional wisdom, grace, energy, and joy. To her, the goal was clear; she “was keeping alive the healing ministry of Jesus.” On September 14, 2010, as part of the 25th anniversary year celebration of the founding of the BHS, Sister Claudia was honored for her work when the BHS Foundation established the Sister Claudia Riehl Living a Legacy Program. This program recognizes the work of others at each of the facilities in the System who model Sister Claudia’s dedication and commitment to the BHS Mission and Core Values. Sister Claudia retired from the BHS in 2011 due to ill health.
Sister Claudia was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Eugene and her beloved sister and best friend, Sister Agatha, OSB. Besides the Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery, she is survived by her brothers Emil and Theodore, and her sisters Dorothy Leader and Alvina Wang, and by many devoted nieces and nephews, friends, and associates. The Wake Service/Morning Prayer was held on March 7, 2015 in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel at 9:30 a.m. The Mass of Christian Burial followed at 11:00 a.m. with Father Tom Foster presiding. The Rite of Committal to the Earth was at Gethsemane Cemetery. Arrangements were by Dougherty Funeral Home. Memorials to St. Scholastica Monastery are preferred.