In Loving Memory
Sister Lea was born in Mason City, Iowa, December 31, 1909, one of ten children of Frank and Mary (Lukes) Pocta. While she was still a young child, the family moved to a farm east of Beroun, Minnesota.
In 1924 she became an aspirant at St. Scholastica Monastery where she attended Villa Sancta Scholastica High School. On August 24, 1926, she entered the Duluth Benedictine community as a postulant, was admitted to the novitiate July 9, 1927, and professed her monastic vows on July 11, 1928. Sister Lea celebrated her Silver Jubilee on August 15, 1953, her Golden Jubilee August 15, 1978, her Diamond Jubilee August 14, 1988, her Jubilee of seventy years on August 15 1998, of seventy-five years on August 15, 2003, and of eighty years on August 3, 2008.
Sister Lea earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from The College of St. Scholastica and a Master of Arts in counseling and administration from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. For many years her ministry focused on education and administration. She taught at the following schools in Minnesota: Assumption, Hibbing; St. Thomas, International Falls; St. Bridget’s, Minneapolis; St. Joseph’s, Grand Rapids; Marquette, Virginia; and St. James, St. Anthony’s, St. Clement’s, and Sacred Heart, all in Duluth. Sister’s last teaching assignment was at Our Mother of Sorrows in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In addition to her teaching duties, Sister Lea was principal at St. Bridget’s and St. Joseph’s. Her summers were spent in teaching religion in various parishes, substituting for the administrator of the former St. James Children’s Home in Duluth for two summers, and ministering in various ways at St. Mary’s Medical Center.
In 1975 age and failing eyesight caused Sister to ask to be relieved of her teaching duties to attend a course in clinical pastoral education at St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. This course, coupled with her training in psychology and counseling, prepared her to accept a chaplaincy position at St. Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth, where she visited patients, assisted families of dying patients, and made weekly rounds on the oncology floor.
Sister served on the Monastic Council and, in 1987, was asked to be on the pastoral team at the Benedictine Health Center, Duluth, and continued there until 1990. In 1984 she was appointed Subprioress. She also assisted the Monastery Director of Temporalities and helped staff the Monastery Information desk.
Sister Lea was an excellent teacher and administrator. Her work in pastoral care brought out the caring and compassionate side of her character. Sister brought genuine enthusiasm, a ready smile, total dedication, and professional expertise to all she did. She was ever grateful for her vocation to religious life. She wrote “God has been very good to me, showered me with graces and blessed my activities. Now, in my remaining years, I strive to deepen my relationship with Jesus so that someday we can continue this friendship in Heaven.”
In retirement Sister Lea enjoyed time for quiet prayer, rest, and relaxation. Vision problems curtailed her knitting, crocheting, and macramé, but talking books, good music, sports broadcasts, large print crossword puzzles, and solitaire replaced her earlier hobbies. Daily walks with her sister, Sister Paschal, and visits with friends rounded out her days.
Sister Lea was preceded in death by her parents and all her sisters (including one who died in infancy and Sister Paschal of St. Scholastica Monastery) and all her brothers. In addition to the Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery, she is survived by devoted relatives and countless friends.
A wake service was held Saturday, March 26, 2011, in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel with visitation following until 10:45 a.m. The Mass of Christian Burial followed at 11:00 a.m. in the Chapel with Father William Graham presiding. Interment was in Gethsemane Cemetery.
- Assumption Hall, Hibbing, MN
- St. James, Duluth, MN
- St. Anthony’s, Duluth, MN
- St. Thomas, International Falls, MN
- St. Clement’s, Duluth, MN
- St. Bridget’s, Minneapolis, MN
- Sacred Heart, Duluth, MN
- St. Joseph’s, Grand Rapids, MN
- Marquette, Virginia, MN
- Our Mother of Sorrows, Cincinnati, OH
- Monastic Council, Duluth, MN
- Subprioress of St. Scholastica Monastery
- Principal, St. Joseph’s School, Grand Rapids, MN
- Principal, St. Bridget’s, Minneapolis, MN
- Substitute Administrator, St. James Home, Duluth, MN
- Monastery Information Desk
Chaplaincy / Pastoral Care
- St. Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth MN
- Benedictine Health Care Center, Duluth, MN
National Catholic Education Association