Meet Sister Pierre Roberts
“I don’t think I gave the idea of a vocation much thought,” says S. Pierre. “Once one of the Sisters suggested that it might be the way of life for me – even though I ran from the idea for a few months – it seemed the natural step as I ended my junior year. Besides, it was just a hop and a skip across the campus to make the transition. I have never for a day regretted the decision.”
Before she was known as S. Pierre Roberts, she went by Marie Ruth Corinne Chretien and was born September 22, 1923 in London, Ontario, Canada. In early life she moved to St. Lawrence, SD, and was adopted by John and Christine Roberts and became known as Gertrude Roberts.
At the public school in St. Lawrence, S. Pierre was part of the “Holy Roller” neighbor kids and shares, “I even helped them sing on the street corner on Saturday evenings.” She moved often in her youth between Woonsocket, Sioux Falls, and St. Lawrence, South Dakota. Her adoptive mother passed away while they were living in St. Lawrence. She attended Mount Marty High School, and it was upon completion of her junior year that she entered Sacred Heart Convent in 1940. Desiring a couple different names upon entering, S. Pierre wanted either “John” or “Marie” but mainly a masculine name. “I delight in the name Pierre” and try to remain as solid and rock-like as I can” Around this time her adoptive father passed away and the convent, “truly be[came] my home.” S. Pierre’s first teaching assignment was in Aberdeen, and later she was assigned to Sacred Heart School in Yankton, SD. She says “I remember Sister Teresa Schuster’s words as I left for Sacred Heart: “Pierre, you may not learn discipline, but you will certainly learn love” and “these words were so true.”
Teaching has been the primary passion and love of her life while living this vocation, and there are many wonderful stories and experiences she would eagerly share. One story, when she was assigned to Christ the King in 1955, at the time a brand new school, she had to make adjustments throughout the year. “S. Cynthia and I taught in the same room … she had class in the front of the room, and then I had class in the back half of the room … the two other Sisters had paper boxes dividing their room and the first and second grade students soon learned that the boxes were empty and moved quite easily.” Her other teaching assignments also include happily serving at Hartington Cedar Catholic High School from 1963 to 1980. S. Pierre came back to Yankton in 1980, and joined Mount Marty College staff from 1980 to 1996, filling the positions of academic dean, registrar, assistant dean and freshman academic advisor. Her Benedictine spirit was put to use in the formation of new Sisters at Sacred Heart Monastery from 1992 until 2001.
Reflecting on her many years as a Sister, S. Pierre shares, “I wouldn’t say that I am deeply religious given to frequent spells of deep soul searching, but I do love my community and my community life, and I try to live it to the full. I feel I am a good member, and I try to keep the Benedictine balance of work, prayer, and play. In sharing what has been helpful in her vocation, “annual retreats, spirituality workshops, days of recollection, daily liturgy, and praise are important to me and I try to participate fully.”
In her retirement, she still helps staff the gift shop and the switchboard. She crochets many sets of new baby blankets, caps, and booties. It is hard to believe she is a nonagerian.
Sister Pierre Roberts
- Elementary & Secondary Education
- Higher Education
- Health Care
- Parish Work
- Retreats/ Spiritual Direction
- Monastery Ministries
- Music and Art
- Monastery Gift Shop
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