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Sr. Mary Bertha Horning

January 19, 1925 — May 8, 2023

Sister Mary Bertha Horning, SSpSAP, died on May 8, 2023, at Mount Grace Convent in St. Louis,

MO at the age of ninety-eight, and on the 77 th Anniversary of her Religious Profession. Sister

Mary Bertha was baptized Helen Rosemary Horning, and was born on January 19, 1925, in

Springfield, MO to Homer Horning and Mary Bertha Newton. Her parents however died before

she was a year old, so her maternal aunt and uncle adopted her as one of their own; she

became one of seven children in that loving family. She used to call her adoptive parents

“mother and daddy.” Her aunt, however, made her retain her biological parents’ last name.

She told a Sister that she was so blessed for having had two sets of loving parents and was

looking forward to meeting them.


She was just a teenager when the thought first dawned on her to become a nun. She once

shared that looking up at the monstrance while she was praying during the 40-hour adoration,

she thought, “what in the world is more important than the Incarnation and the Eucharist.” Her

mother had plans for her to go to a Benedictine College, but when she spoke to her spiritual

director, the priest told her, “God calls—that’s the time to go.”


On August 13, 1943, at the age of eighteen, she entered Mount Grace Convent in St. Louis, a

convent of the Sister-Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration (a congregation

dedicated to perpetual adoration and praying for the sanctification of priests). Three years

later, on May 8, 1946, she made her First Profession of Vows in Philadelphia when she took her

religious name Sister Mary Bertha in honor of her biological mother. She made her final

commitment on May 21, 1951, also in Philadelphia. On May 8, 2021, she celebrated her

Diamond Jubilee in St. Louis. She had also been assigned to our convents in Philadelphia,

Corpus Christi, and Austin (which has been closed). Along with learning a little German, she

learned to play the organ in our Motherhouse in Steyl, Netherlands. She once told a Sister that

she played the organ only out of obedience and that she never liked it. She spent most of her

years as an organist and a librarian, and she also helped in the correspondence room.

In 2017, while still in our convent in Corpus Christi, Sister May Bertha had to undergo two hip

replacements having fallen twice. In 2019, she was assigned back to St. Louis where she

became confined to her room because walking became difficult for her. Nevertheless, Sister

continued to live her life of unceasing prayer and sacrificial love faithfully and serenely for the

salvation of souls and for the needs of the world. She also welcomed anyone who visited her

with a smile and a listening ear. Her favorite prayer was the Rosary; she always had her beads

in her hands. She likewise kept in her room a small statue and relic of Saint John Neumann, her

favorite saint.


Sister Mary Bertha died on the anniversary of her religious profession, May 8 th , concluding 77

years of loving dedication to the Eucharist and the Lord’s service, having kept in her heart the

Lord’s promise: “Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood… I will raise on the last day.”

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Sr. Mary Bertha Horning, please visit our flower store.

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