May 7, 1907 – September 5, 2010
A volunteer from the Benedictine Monastery in Clyde Missouri, Mary Sheridan, replied to my letter. Sister Irmina’s memory was not great and Ms. Sheridan had recently completed an oral history with her which she shared with me.Sister Mary Irmina was born Cecilia Mary Blatt in Granville, Iowa to Nicholas and Anna Blatt. One of 11 children, she had 7 older sisters and 3 brothers, they lived on a farm with cows, pigs, horses, chickens, and sometimes ducks. She considered herself an obedient child. She was raised as ‘a good Catholic’ and attended Catholic schools, joining the Benedictine Sisters as a novice at 16 years old.
A member of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, clearly faith has been a daily part of her life. She says, “I am a person that just takes things as they come, hard times or good times. I just try to do the best I can. Try to obey the Rule, that’s the one thing.” When asked how old she felt she replied, “I don’t feel [any age] at all, I’m just happy I’m living. Take things the way God has them for me, that’s the way I live.” She also notes that she says her rosary every day.
I could not find definitive numbers on the average age of living Catholic sisters but the consensus appears to be in the 70’s. The amount of Catholic nuns has been declining and the average age increasing as fewer women join. Being that sisterhood is a spiritual endeavor, there is minimal scientific evidence about the effects on their life of celibacy, devotion, and good works on their health and longevity. Despite that, we can draw our own theories.