Merle (Simon) Nolde, OSB, 96, Saint Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph
April 8, 1926 - March 28, 2023
The Eucharist of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, April 3, 2023, at the Sacred Heart Chapel, Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., for Sister Merle (Simon) Nolde, who died peacefully at Saint Scholastica Convent, St. Cloud, Minn., on March 28, 2023. Burial of the cremated remains will be in the monastery cemetery. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Benson Funeral Home. Friends may call at Saint Scholastica Convent on Sunday, April 2, for a Prayer Service at 3 p.m., followed by visitation until 4:15 p.m., or for a Vigil Prayer Service at 8 p.m. at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. Visitation continues at 9 a.m. until the time of the funeral on April 3.Merle was born April 8, 1926, to Joseph and Meryl (Runk) Nolde in Stillwater, Minn., the eldest of their eight children. She attended St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School in Stillwater and Saint Benedict’s High School and the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in music.
After graduating from college, Merle worked for three years in the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference in Washington, D.C. There, her social life centered on her volunteer work at the Catholic Interracial House known as Friendship House. Social justice remained highly significant to S. Merle throughout the years, and equally strong was her call to Benedictine life. In November 1952, she entered Saint Benedict’s Monastery, was received into the novitiate on June 17, 1953, as Sister Simon (reverting to her baptismal name in 1969), made first monastic profession on July 11, 1954, and perpetual monastic profession on July 11, 1957. She celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2004 and her 60th anniversary of profession in 2014.
A well-educated woman with many talents, S. Merle was able to put her gifts to use in a variety of ministries. She earned a Ph.D. in English from St. Louis University in St. Louis and attended the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind., and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She taught English at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud and at the College of Saint Benedict. From 1978 to 1981, she was co-director of the National Assembly of Women Religious (NAWR) in Chicago. For 10 years, she assisted with physical therapy services at Saint Scholastica Convent, and she spent a year in pastoral ministry in Missoula, Mont. In 1993, she moved back to Saint Benedict’s Monastery where she assisted with hosting guests to the monastery’s Studium program. She was a founder member and first coordinator of Pax Christi Minnesota, as well as coordinator of the St. Cloud group for over 30 years. She was also active with the World Justice/New Jubilee committee and educated the whole monastic community on peace and social justice issues.
S. Merle is survived by her Benedictine community, her sisters-in-law, Evangeline Nolde, Marianne Nolde and Shirley Nolde, as well as nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and brothers, Joseph, Gerald, Donald, Richard (+Lois) and Theodore, and her sisters Mary Miller and Elizabeth Nolde.
Please direct memorial gifts to the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict Outreach Ministries.