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Sister honored for ‘giving glory to God’ through music


FERDINAND — After more than 80 years as an organist and pianist, Sister Theresita Schenk, 97, earned an award for her talents.

Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music awarded Schenk the Jacobs Dean’s Excellence Award on Friday in recognition of her service to the profession. Throughout her life, Schenk played the organ and piano for churches — she still plays for the Sisters of St. Benedict — and composed antiphons, masses and songs for the church. At age 88, she recorded a CD. She also taught lessons to what former student Sister Catherine Duenne called “a mind-boggling” number of students.

“I enjoyed all the years,” Schenk said.

Schenk stayed busy during the school years teaching music students in the Ferdinand schools, but in the summers between 1958 and 1968, she attended Indiana University to get a master’s degree in music education. She’d hoped to get a doctorate, but could not meet the requirement of being on IU’s campus during the school year. She was needed in Dubois County to teach and serve as the monastery’s liturgist and organist, Duenne said. Still, Duenne thought Schenk deserved a high honor for her work in music and contacted the Jacobs School of Music about the Dean’s Excellence Award.

On Friday, Vince Carr from Indiana University presented Schenk the award in a surprise celebration that included a concert by the IU ChoralFest. The award was a surprise, and Schenk said she had no idea she would be honored when she took her seat in the front row of the monastery church. Behind her, the church was filled with former students and friends who had come to see her receive the award.

“You have spent your whole life giving glory to God through your

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