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Sister Beatrice Hoberg (formerly Sister Mary Canice)

Hoberg_Beatrice-webSing to God a new song!
Sing to God, all the earth!
Psalm 96

This song seemed appropriate for our remembrance of Sister Beatrice Hoberg, considering her connections with music and her creativity. Beatrice was a writer, a poet and a composer of music: talents which served her well in her many years of active ministry, said Sister Margaret Quinlan in her commentary for Sister Beatrice Hoberg, who died March 3, 2013.

Beatrice was born in Chicago Nov. 2, 1917 to Louis and Julia Linskey Hoberg. She was baptized Beatrice Margaret. She had a sister, Julia and a brother, Joseph, both of whom preceded her in death.

Sister Edwardine McNulty can claim Beatrice as a friend since they were ten years old. Isn’t that a gift, to have a friend for eighty-five years! Edwardine remembers how in grade school, at St. Frances of Rome School in Cicero, Beatrice made up plays for the children to put on, putting sheeting over a wire across the room for a curtain. Later, when Beatrice played the organ, she was so small that she could not reach the pedals, so Edwardine worked the pedals as they made music together,” Sister Margaret said.

Of course, Beatrice continued her creativity as an adult, creating a piece for a piano course, entering a poem in an anthology, writing a reading workbook, creating the Mass to Honor Divine Providence, as well as the songs, “We Greet You, Mary” and “Joseph, the Just.” But perhaps her most significant creation, which many of us used and remember, was the “To God through Music” series, created with Sister Brendan Harvey and Sister Mary Lourdes Mackey and published by the Gregorian Institute of America in 1955. In creating the books, Sisters Beatrice and Brendan would share ideas; Beatrice would write the music and the lyrics, and Brendan would test the work in her first-grade classroom. In 1996, Beatrice, Brendan and Sister Adelaide created a book and tape recording about Mother Theodore for children, titled “Anne Therese.” This is still available in our gift shop.

To back up a bit, Beatrice entered community in 1937 and pronounced final vows in 1945. She ministered in many different ways, teaching music to students from kindergarten to high school for many years, including teaching violin to small children, using the Suzuki method. She taught in Indiana at Holy Cross and Immaculate Heart of Mary both in Indianapolis and at Sacred Heart and St. John the Baptist, both in Whiting. In Illinois she taught at St. Angela in Chicago, Providence in New Lenox and St. Athanasius in Evanston. In California she taught at St. Euphrasia in Granada Hills.

In 1979 she coordinated the Retreat Center in Orange, California; from 1980 to 1984 she ministered again with Sister Brendan Harvey at Simeon House in Terre Haute as activity director. Sister Beatrice then she moved to River Grove, Ill., where among other things, she worked with the Providence High School Alumni Office. Finally in 1996 she moved to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, where she volunteered for many duties.

One of her activities here was working with the birthday party for the sisters in their 90’s. One year, according to Sister Charles, Bea and Brendan created pictures of each of the sisters celebrating, with the word, “fantastic” by each sister’s picture. Unfortunately, there was a spelling error on half of the pictures, “fantistic.” But no matter: Beatrice and Brendan created a song and dance: Fantastic, fantistic, what is the difference, they are only statistics!

Once when asked what a significant moment in her life was, Beatrice said her second novitiate before final vows, and especially her thirty-day retreat. When asked what enabled her most to be faithful to her call, she said, “The Grace of God, the help of many, and maybe my God-given sense of humor.”

It is that sense of humor, that cleverness with words that I most remember, Sister Margaret continued. I often played pinochle with Beatrice, Ann Denise Reger and Mary Pat Peacock when we all lived in Owens Hall. Mary Pat said she would ask Beatrice if she wanted to play cards that evening, and her reply was always, “Of course!” You understand, Mary Pat and I were the straight men to the two comedians that Bea and Ann Denise were! I so much enjoyed Bea’s clever use of quotations, maybe from famous writers or from some of the old prayers or old sayings we had used years ago. She would say, “Please, Sister, would it be a practice of tomorrow’s lesson and pleasing to our Blessed Mother if someone would deal me a decent hand?”

Bea, thank you for keeping us laughing, and for the life you have shared with us.

And let us end with this poem which was written by Beatrice in 1990 and published in the anthology titled, the Emily Dickinson Anthology:

High up in the heavens
or beneath the deep, blue sea,
ev’ry thing that I behold
becomes God’s gift to me.
Lashing, splashing raindrops
or an ivy-covered wall,
a sunset’s glow, the winds that blow,
my Father made them all.
And should I wish for music,
He plans a program rare
of concerts in the running brooks
and a symphony in the air.
But more than these, He made in me
a little world apart, where He abides
and softly speaks His Word
into my heart.

Sister Beatrice Hoberg died March 3, 2013 at the age of 95, having lived 76 years as a Sister of Providence. The Mass of Christian burial was celebrated March 8 in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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