On July 27, 2022 our dear Sr. M. Ludhelma Ebert was called home by our Heavenly Father into his eternal Kingdom. She died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 98. She was the last of the original pioneer sisters who came to the United States in 1949.
Sr. M. Ludhelma was born on September 2, 1923 in Ringelbach, Germany, close to Oberkirch in the beautiful Black Forest, which also marked her personality. She had a complete school education, and after that time attended a school of home economics for two years. The longing for a religious vocation led her to Schoenstatt and she decided to enter the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary.
Following God’s call
She began postulancy on November 1, 1945, the year of our founder’s return from the concentration camp of Dachau. She received her Marian dress from the hands of our founder on June 20, 1946.
In the first years during novitiate, Sr. M. Ludhelma worked at Steins Garden and then in Marienborn, where she was responsible for the housekeeping for the sisters’ filiation. During this time, Sr. M. Ludhelma decided to dedicate her life to the missions. It was in God’s wise providence that the United States, the exile land of our founder, and specifically the state of Texas, would be her destination. She also had a younger sister, our now deceased Sr. M. Adelita, who became a missionary to one of our Provinces in Brazil.
At the service of others
As part of one of the first groups of Schoenstatt Sisters to settle in South Texas, Sr. M. Ludhelma came in November 1949 to Corpus Christi. Here she worked in the Corpus Christi Cathedral Rectory at the service of the newly appointed Bishop Garriga and the priests. One year earlier, during his visit to the United States in 1948, Father Kentenich had come to see the previous Bishop Ledvina in Corpus Christi in response to his wish for Schoenstatt Sisters for his diocese. Besides her work in the bishop’s rectory, Sr. M. Ludhelma soon began her studies at the Incarnate Word College in San Antonio. She studied there every year during summer vacation until she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in education.
Some years later, a new Catholic school was to be established in Rockport, Texas. The pastor of Sacred Heart Parish was in need of sisters to run the new school, and he made a pilgrimage to St. Anne’s Shrine in Quebec, Canada, for this intention. Sr. M. Ludhelma was transferred to Rockport, where she became the principal of the new Sacred Heart school and the superior of the filiation there.
Sr. M. Ludhelma had a very fine disposition and personality. She was open for the families and their children and lovingly attended their needs. At the same time, Sr. M. Ludhelma made the house community a true home for the sisters in her reverent, motherly way. She also helped the younger sisters coming from Germany to get acquainted with the new country and its customs.
In 1958, after many prayers and much searching, our region in Texas decided on the land for a future Schoenstatt Shrine and Center. Lamar, a small town about five miles out of Rockport on the tip of a peninsula would become the home of the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen, and Victress of Schoenstatt, and the home of the sisters. Almost every weekend, Sr. M. Ludhelma saw to it that the filiation sisters could visit Lamar. The longing for a shrine was deep in the hearts of the sisters. Many prayers were offered for this, and the contributions to the capital of grace were buried where the shrine was to be built. Sr. M. Ludhelma had great mission zeal and the words of our founder inspired everything: “Build the Blessed Mother a shrine, and she will build you the house.” J.K.
In the years from 1965 to 1971, Sr. M. Ludhelma was the principal of St. Lawrence Catholic School in San Antonio, where she was liked very much by families and children. She was also involved with the direct Schoenstatt apostolate with couples’ groups, preparing them for the covenant of love and the home shrine. During the years 1971 to 1987, she worked in Refugio and Corpus Christi as a parish helper and CCD teacher. It was easy for her to work well with the parish priests and she was much appreciated by them. From 1987 on, Sr. M. Ludhelma lived at the province house in Lamar. During these years, she took care of the sacristy, garden, and cemetery, tasks she enjoyed very much. For about two years in between, she was responsible for the daycare we had at our center in Lamar. She worked just as well with the little children as with the older ones. The families were very grateful for this wonderful service.
When Sr. M. Ludhelma’s health eventually declined and she needed extensive care, which we could not offer her in the province house, she was transferred to a nursing home in Rockport, where she lived from 2013-2017. Due to the mandatory evacuations prior to Hurricane Harvey, she was taken to a nursing home in Austin and then to the John Paul II nursing home in Kenedy, Texas, run by a community of Polish sisters, where she completed her life.
We are very grateful for the gift she was to many. Her memory will always remain!
May she rest in peace!
Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary