Sister Emily Zent, OSU


Wake Reflection for Sister Emily Zent, OSU

On December 30, 2008 at 11:00 pm at the age of 97, Sister Emily Zent breathed her last breath into arms of God, whom she had so lovingly served for 79 years.

Sr. Emily was born in Mandan, North Dakota in 1911, the first child of Jacob P. Zent and Rose (Kupper) Zent. The Zents had migrated to the US from Russia. Sr. Emily had 2 sisters: Isabel and Tillie. Her five brothers were: Joseph, Raphael, Edward, Leo (died at birth) and Leo. Her brother, Joseph is the only sibling alive and lives in Mott, ND.

Besides her brother, she has nieces, and cousins in different parts of the country. Two of her nieces have visited Sr. Emily several times here at the Mount.

Sister entered religious life in 1929 with the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Calvary in Kenmare, ND. On June 4,1930 she put on the religious habit and was given the new name: Sr. Mary Augustine. (In the 1970’s, she changed her name back to “Emily” which had been her baptismal name) Sr. Emily’s first teaching assignment was in Strasburg, ND. Then she taught in Kenmare and later in St. Anthony. Both places were in North Dakota.

When the Ursulines moved their Motherhouse to Illinois, Sr. Emily began teaching In Illinois: Fairmont City, East St. Louis, Mounds, Belleville, Millstadt, and Mascoutah. She usually taught the lower grades. Her favorite part of teaching was to prepare the children for Holy Communion. Because she was a short person, the children could relate to her and they loved her.

She loved small animals, especially cats. If you have ever visited her in her room, you would have seen all types of animals but mostly cats! In Belleville she befriended a white cat, Angel Boy. This cat knew where her room was and knew she would get a treat there. When Sr. Emily walked outside the cat was always walking with her and we feared she would fall and break a bone when the cat jumped on her.

When most of us no longer wore the veil, she didn’t follow our changes. One time when she was on a home visit with her mother, her mother just said “Why are you wearing that? I think you should take it off.” Her mother’s words were enough for her as she came back from Seattle with no veil! We considered that a minor miracle.

Sister Emily could never throw anything away. She would say: “It just might be something of value sometime!” She was generous in sharing those items when anyone asked her for something. She kept saying, “See, it pays to save!”

I think many of you have experienced her craving for hugs. It was like giving her the best gift, if she got a kiss and/or a hug. She believed that we need at least 7 hugs a day to survive. Thanks to all of you who have given her the joy of your hug.

Thanks to all of you: Sisters, nurses, workers, visitors, who have cared for and prayed for Sr. Emily especially these last months. She will be watching over all and using her influence for the good of all of us.

In Sister Emily’s honor, let us give a hug to our neighbors. Thank You!


Given by Sister Dorothy Helbling, OSU

December 30, 2008