|A providential sunbeam illuminates Sr. Elizabeth as she approaches the altar in our Abbey Church as the Rite of Solemn Profession begins at Mass after the proclamation of the Gospel.|
A native of Denver, Sr. Elizabeth, 46, was born Judith Baumgartner, the eldest of the seven children of Dennis and Joan Baumgartner. She graduated from St. Mary’s Academy High School in Englewood in 1988, and then entered the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. After completing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, she was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy, and served for 15 years on ships stationed in Italy, Japan, Spain, and Maryland, first as a communication officer, than as a cryptologic officer.
“At each overseas duty station,” she recalls, “I was able to travel throughout the various regions and experience the customs and cultures of the respective countries that I lived in, as well as during numerous port calls that the ships made.”
In 2007, Judith left active duty in order to more fully discern a vocation to religious life. “When I graduated from the Naval Academy, I never dreamed of entering a monastery,” she reflected. “However, as I became more involved in the life of the Catholic communities at the various duty stations, I felt a call to religious life.”
After corresponding with our Abbey and visiting several times, she entered in 2008, and was received into the novitiate in May, 2009. She made her first profession of vows on the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, June 24, 2011, taking the religious name Elizabeth, for the wife of Zechariah and cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Luke 1:5).
“I was drawn to the daily rhythm of prayer and work of Benedictine life,” Sr. Elizabeth recalled. “The joyful spirit of all of the Sisters, as well as their love of and fidelity to the monastic life, made a deep impression on me.”
Like most of our Sisters, Sr. Elizabeth helps out in many different work areas. She is a talented cook, and her worldwide experience of different cuisines has enriched our already varied kitchen. She is an energetic and conscientious groundskeeper, keeping lawn machines and other equipment up and running. And while a Benedictine monastery is a different kind of community than either a big family or an aircraft carrier, sharing space with other people is nothing new to Sr. Elizabeth. Her willingness to adapt to different characters and situations makes her a treasured member of our community.