The Dignity of Grace
In The Dignity of Grace, Larry Woiwode recounts the remarkable life of Sister Thomas Welder, Benedictine Sister of Annunciation Monastery and the fifth president of the University of Mary. A towering figure to North Dakotans, Sister Thomas was first Diane, a girl in whom the trace of her future influence was evident from the beginning—in her capacity for endurance amid suffering, her ease of affection and attention, her trademark magnanimity joined to her humility. Entering Annunciation Monastery in 1959 and professing her monastic vows in 1961, the life of Sister Thomas was soon entangled in the drama of the newly established Mary College, from its uncertain beginnings to its dynamic growth into America’s Leadership University. First choir director, then chair of the Humanities Division, then president for over three decades, the University of Mary’s story—and Sister Thomas’, too—can both be summed up in a phrase that marks each to the core: to lead is to serve, to serve God, and to serve one another. On her passing in June of 2020, the University of Mary remembers that Sister Thomas’s was a life that resounded with the truth that, even today, runs all through the striving and dreaming on its windswept prairie bluff – everything is grace.