Late Sister Thomas Welder honored in Congress

Late Sister Thomas Welder honored in Congress


The late Sister Thomas Welder, longtime former leader of the University of Mary, was honored in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, with both of North Dakota's senators making floor speeches and her obituary being formally entered into the Congressional Record.

U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., highlighted Welder's legacy as one of the more influential female leaders in North Dakota history.

“I come to the floor today with a heavy heart and a fair bit of trepidation,” he said. “My goal is to pay tribute to someone who is so special, remarkable, beloved, and important to my home state of North Dakota.”

After his remarks, Cramer submitted Welder's obituary into the Congressional Record with unanimous consent of the Senate.

Welder, 80, died Monday at her monastery home south of Bismarck. She had recently been diagnosed with kidney cancer. She had two kidney transplants during her lifetime.

The member of the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery served as U-Mary president from 1978 until she retired in July 2009. She was an active participant on boards and in community organizations, and she earned numerous awards, including the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, the state's top honor. She's also a member of the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., bestowed the Rough Rider Award on Welder in May 2004 when he was governor. He honored her memory on the Senate floor Wednesday.

“Sister Thomas was truly somebody who I think epitomizes the term servant leader. She was a person of incredible faith. She lived her faith and she provided that to others certainly in her words but in her deeds,” he said. “(My wife) Mikey and I want to express our sincere appreciation for her lifetime of service and her commitment to God. Sister Thomas was patient. Sister Thomas was wonderful. Sister Thomas was beloved and Sister Thomas will be missed very, very much.”

A public visitation is planned from 1-7 p.m. Sunday in Our Lady of the Annunciation Chapel in the Benedictine Center for Servant Leadership building on campus. A vigil service with evening prayer will follow at 7 p.m. A second public visitation is scheduled from 9-10 a.m. Monday, with Welder's funeral following at 10 a.m. The funeral is open to family and close friends. Others can watch via livestream at Welder will be buried in the Monastery Cemetery on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River.


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