Sister Marie Natalie Sommer died December 10, 2019 at Saint Joseph Villa where her Mass of Christian Burial on December 17, 2019 in the Villa Chapel commemorated a life “on the move” in faithful service to God through untiring consideration for others. Nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews celebrated their “Sister Barb” along with friends and her sisters in community who experienced her life of touching others with her loving presence, gracious smile and memorable encounter.
The third of five daughters born to Lawrence and Helen Sommer, Barbara Ann was born on March 27th, 1931. She and her sisters Jane, Helen, Olive and Pat attended Saint Benedict and Saint Athanasius Elementary Schools and Little Flower High School. The girls frequently assisted the Sisters of Saint Joseph with after-school chores, opportunities that fostered Barbara’s consideration of religious life. Having worked a year after graduation, she entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1950. On her Day of Reception in 1951, Barbara received the name, Sister Marie Natalie.
From the beginning of her teaching career Sister was “on the move.” She taught in elementary schools for fourteen years, studied Spanish and French which qualified her for 40 years as a language teacher in high schools and happily provided travel to France twice with her students. In 2005 she lived with her sister Pat, caring for her until Pat’s death in 2010. In that same year, when Natalie’s own health declined, she moved to the Villa where she claimed, she “found a special peace.”
As a young student at Saint Leo School, Sister Frances Hart recalls her third-grade teacher’s exceptional attention to her young students, especially those with greater needs, a trait which inspired Sister Fran who sought Sister’s guidance in nurturing her own vocation. As Sister Fran’s sponsor, Sister Marie Natalie and Sister Frances Hart shared an enduring relationship graced by God’s love.
Sister Natalie’s nieces attested to their aunt’s mindfulness of others whether their needs were simple or challenging. On occasions, slated to give Sister Natalie a change of scenery, many excursions focused on visiting the sick and lonely, shopping for those unable to do so, or buying supplies for her card-making passion which ultimately brought joy to the recipients. Her nieces reveled in their aunt’s “on the move” for others. They cherished with deep gratitude being with their Sister Barb in those hours when she drew close to eternity.
We are grateful for Sister Natalie for the gift she has been to her family, the Congregation and the People of God. She has been “on the move” living God’s hope and desire for her life and the lives of others. Hers is an eternal “on the move” into the never-ending life and love of the Blessed Trinity. – Constitutions of the Sisters of Saint Joseph