+Sister Mary Catherine Shambour, OSB

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+Sister Mary Catherine Shambour, OSB

+Sister Mary Catherine Shambour, OSB
+Sister Mary Catherine Shambour


Sister Mary Catherine Shambour, beloved teacher, board member, historian, writer, and peacemaker, passed peacefully May 30 at St. Scholastica Monastery. Having marked the milestones of 25, 50 and 60 years of religious life, Sister Mary Catherine was in the 67th year of vowed commitment. An alumna of The College of St. Scholastica, Sister served many years on the Board of Trustees.

Born to Joseph Shambour and Anna (Maruska) in 1930, Sister Mary Catherine grew up on a farm near New Prague, Minnesota. In 1951 she completed a bachelor’s degree in English, entering the Benedictine community following graduation.

Sister began teaching at Stanbrook Hall and later in Cloquet, Minnesota. This was followed by nine years at Duluth’s Cathedral Senior High School and nineteen years at Cathedral High School. She earned a master’s degree in Education from UMD in 1962.

Sister Mary Catherine’s love of Russia led to an M.A.T. degree in Slavic Languages from Indiana University in 1976. A pivotal experience occurred in 1980 when teaching English in Moscow and Leningrad. She writes, “I was warmly welcomed and began to see Russians with different eyes. I learned that they did not want a war with us.” Sister would serve for many years as liaison and peacemaker through research, writing, and lecturing. Her teaching ministry continued in Minnesota where she taught Russian for nineteen years. She would make eighteen trips to Russia over a thirty-year period.

Sister Mary Catherine returned to Duluth, serving as Vocation Director from 2006 until 2015. More recently, she explored the intersections of God, humanity, and nature, facilitating book discussions on the writings of Pope Francis, Richard Rohr, and Ilia Delio through the Center for Spirituality & Enrichment.

Preceded in death by parents and sister-in-law, Mary Ann, Sister is survived by her community; brother, George; nieces, Patrice (Wayne) and Kathy (Steve); nephews, Roger (Jeannie) and Michael (Judy); and many cousins and grand nieces and nephews about whom she would often inquire and in whose lives she was genuinely interested. Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in June. A memorial service will take place at a later date. Memorials are preferred to St. Scholastica Monastery.


Posted in Happenings, Obituaries


  1. I was so sorry to hear of Sr Mary Catherine’s death. I have two special memories of her.

    The first was in 2010 when we went to Siena, Italy when we were attending the Benedictine Study Program. We had a lovely dinner on an outdoor rooftop dining area overlooking St. Catherine’s Basilica.

    The other was during the Oblate Directors and Oblates National Meeting when it was held at your monastery. She took two of our oblates and me on a grand tour of Duluth. She was a perfect tour guide.

    I am sure that you will miss her presence. May God be with you as you grieve her passsing to her eternal reward.+
    Sister Ruth Ksycki, OSB
    St. Mary Monastery
    Rock Island, IL 61201

  2. I was one of the oblates with Sr. Ruth Ksycki, mentioned above. It was such an enjoyable day with Sr. Mary Catherine guiding us around Duluth! I will always remember her enthusiasm and gracious Benedictine hospitality. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved her. She no doubt touched many lives in her 89 years. She certainly touched mine.

  3. She was a wonderful sister, I had many wonderful conversations with her on Sisters line and at many of our Special Events. She will be with her wonderful other Sisters.

  4. Sister Mary Catherine was a wonderful advocate for peace and justice. At my 50th reunion at Scholastica I had a nice chat with her about pro-life activities in Russia!
    We will all miss her presence among us. Rest in peace, Sister.
    Cathy Connolly Evans ’67

  5. Sister Shambour was my Russian Instructor at the University of Saint Thomas. Her passion for teaching was evident. Her desire for peace among peoples and nations was apparent when she talked about her experience in Russia. I only learned of her passing today, and will be remembering her in my prayers. Requiescat in Pace, Sister Shambour.

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–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict