Grace Gillespie, Staff Writer
Every student and alumnus who has walked into Saint Martin’s has a different perspective on the impact this university has to offer. Saint Martin’s University recently announced the notable alumni of 2020 for its annual Distinguished Alumni Awards, which will be held on Feb. 8. Each alumnus has a unique story that they are more than happy to share with the faculty and students at this university in the upcoming weeks. In the future, long after you graduate, you could be back here telling a new generation your experience just as alumni this year will be doing.
One group of alumni to be highlighted are the Nuns of St. Gertrude. The sisters mentioned that they are honored to be recognized for 2020, and they hope that every student attending this university appreciates Benedictine education while pursuing their degree. The Nuns of the Monastery of St. Gertrude are being highlighted this year for their persistent Benedictine value in service. Over a century ago, dating back to May of 1904, three nuns were sent to Lacey from Cottonwood, Idaho to practice service. They would cook and sew for the students and monks on campus. The nuns quickly became popular around campus, blessing the university with the service they brought to the school. A half a century later, the three nuns were sent back to their Monastery to continue their services closer to home. The relationship between Saint Martin’s University and The Monastery of St. Gertrude continues to stay strong today. A few of the nuns attended Saint Martin’s to earn their degrees in teaching and advance their education. Sister Clarissa Goeckner expressed in an interview, “I had many English classes, and Michael Contris, Ph.D. was a professor whose presence remains with me sixty years later.” She went on to say she had many incredible teachers who shaped her life. The sisters enjoyed their time spent at Saint Martin’s. Father Kilian has taken the Saint Martin’s Benedictine Scholars, to visit the sisters in Idaho numerous times. The scholars will be visiting again this spring. Sister Mary Marge Goeckner had a lot to say about Saint Martin’s University’s effect on her life. Goeckner wrote, “When I entered St. Gertrude’s here in Cottonwood, Idaho 65 years ago, the Sisters from here [were] going to Saint Martin’s to do the cooking for all the college students, monks and visitors. When the Sisters would come home, they would tell stories about their adventures with the students and their enjoyment to trips to the Sound and the cabin. I really enjoyed my years at Saint Martin’s, and I had wonderful teachers. They prepared me to go on for my master’s degree in Education and also to go on for more Benedictine Studies at Sant’Anselmo’s in Rome. So, I have to say Saint Martin’s had a tremendous effect on my life and I will always be very grateful for all my excellent teachers and friends I gained there over the years.”
Another alumnus being honored for his service is John Carr, who graduated from Saint Martin’s in 1959 as valedictorian of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. The college gave him a basketball scholarship which motivated him to carry out his studies. Basketball was a huge passion of his, and he served as a captain in his junior and senior seasons. When asked how Saint Martin’s has affected him, he said the people and community’s impact on him was immense. He mentioned that he had already written his speech to discuss all the major positives this university had on his life and would love for students to come to hear all about it. His fiftieth-class reunion sparked something in him to continue his engagement with the university. He co-chaired for the science initiative, which led to the new Ernsdorff science building. Currently, Carr is on the Board of Trustees for Saint Martin’s. When asked what made him want to be a trustee, he simply said, “There was no vision to be a trustee. I was a part of the team for the Ernsdorf building to be established and wanted to see that get carried out. I was a chemistry major, and Professor Ernsdorf was one of my professors. After that, I was approached asking if I would consider being on the Board of Trustees. I made that decision in 2015. I was never aware of the power or ultimate power and responsibility that trustees have.” Carr stated that his involvement with the university makes him feel young again.