March 16, 2017
Canyon—Benedictine Sister Mary Hawkins, longtime Prioress at St. Benedict Monastery, passed away March 15 after a brief illness. She was 97 years old.
Mass was celebrated March 18, St. Ann’s Church, with Bishop Patrick J. Zurek, presiding and priests of the Diocese of Amarillo concelebrating.
Mary G. Hawkins was born in Tulia on Oct. 20, 1919, the daughter of Willis A. and Fredda Hawkins. She grew up in Hart and later attended high school in Nazareth before graduating from Shamrock High School.
When World War II began, Hawkins went to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a secretary in the Pentagon.
On Dec. 8, 1945, Hawkins joined the Catholic Church and was baptized in Norman, Okla. On Aug. 29, 1947, she entered St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Ark. Taking the name Sister Mary Augustine (which she would use until she reverted to her baptismal name in 1967), she professed Temporary Vows on June 24, 1950 and Perpetual Vows on June 24, 1953.
Sister Mary owned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio; and a Master Degree in English from Creighton University. She also studied theology at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn.
Sister Mary taught at schools in Subiaco and Fayetteville, Ark., until January 1957, when she was appointed Assistant Novitiate Mistress. She returned to the classroom in 1959, when she spent nine years in Moberly, Mo.
After a year of teaching in Fort Smith, Sister Mary came to the Diocese of Amarillo, where she spent eight years teaching in the Nazareth Independent School District. In 1977, she began a four-year stint as a reference librarian at West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University) in Canyon. While in Canyon, Sister Mary tested the waters for founding a Dependent Priory in Texas.
That dream was put on hold in 1981, when St. Scholastica Chapter elected Sister Mary as its Eighth Prioress for a term of four years.
In 1985, Sister Mary returned to Canyon, where she was appointed Prioress of St. Benedict’s Dependent Monastery. In 1998 and 1999, she spent most of her time overseeing the construction of a new Monastery and moving from downtown Canyon out to a few miles on the rim of the upper reaches of Palo Duro Canyon.
According to her community, Sister Mary considered her Benedictine Monastery vocation as one of God’s greatest blessings in a life filled with God’s blessing.
Sister Mary was preceded in death by her parents; two sisters, Mildred and Loramack; and a brother, Gus.
Survivors include three brothers, Willis A. Hawkins of Canyon, Dr. Theron C. Hawkins of Comfort and Robert L. Hawkins of Hart; numerous nieces, nephews, great-niece and great-nephews; and her Benedictine Community at St. Benedict Monastery, Canyon.