Guilhermina Kost, RSCJ

Guilhermina Kost, RSCJ

Birth: April 2, 1913
Profession: March 6, 1943
Death: November 13, 2014

Religious of the Sacred Heart Guilhermina Kost died Thursday, November 13, 2014, at Teresian House in Albany, New York at the age of 101. A generous spirit and an accomplished custodian of the beauty of God’s house, Sister Kost will be remembered in a Mass of Christian Burial at 3:30 PM on Tuesday, November 18, in the chapel at Teresian House. Visitation will be a half hour prior to the funeral. Burial will be at the Society of the Sacred Heart cemetery at Kenwood on Wednesday at 10 AM.

Guilhermina Kost was born April 12, 1913, in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, the only child of Paul and Louise Kost. She first came to the United States as an au pair, and in 1935 entered the Society of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois. She made her final vows there in 1943. She is survived by more than 2100 sisters in the Society of the Sacred Heart.

From 1935 to 1982, Sister Kost served in numerous kitchen and housekeeping roles, including the vestry, in which she served as seamstress and launderer. During her novitiate, 1935-39, she served as a milkmaid in the dairy! Her assignments included Sacred Heart schools and communities in Lake Forest, Illinois; Omaha; St. Joseph, Missouri; Chicago; Cincinnati; and Albany.

Sister Kost moved to Kenwood Convent in Albany in 1980, first for a ministry of community service and volunteering in the Child Care Center, finally retiring to a prayer ministry in 1999 when she was 86 years old. She moved to Teresian House in 2008.

It would be difficult to capture the effect of Sister Kost’s upbringing on her personality except to say it resulted in a fiercely independent, always honest (sometimes disarmingly so), totally compassionate toward “the underdog,” large-hearted woman in a diminutive body. Born in Brazil to German parents, Sister Kost’s first years were spent in Switzerland, her mother having decided to go there since Mina’s father left them when she was just a few months old. As would happen throughout her early life, her mother came and went, leaving her first in a home for infants from which she was shunted from family to occasionally abusive family, eventually claiming her and returning with her to Brazil. 

When she was twelve years old she was placed in an orphanage and eventually heard her mother had died. By then, however, she had grown accustomed to her new home and had received conditional Baptism in the Catholic Church (the orphanage was run by a group of sisters). She wrote in her memoir, “I was enchanted with everything and the sisters with me. They encouraged my aspiration to join them.” When she reached 18, however, and asked permission to enter their congregation, she was refused—a devastating experience for her.

It was then she moved to Washington, DC, as an au pair. When the child in the family became a student at the Sacred Heart Convent at 1719 Massachusetts Avenue, Mina became acquainted with the Society of the Sacred Heart. Although she was resistant at first, she was eventually won over by means of various Society books and biographies, and she asked to enter.   

Throughout her life, though her ministries were hidden, she was a woman to be reckoned with. Her relationship with Jesus was the heart of her being and she was unfailingly loyal to those she admired and knew she could trust. She wrote of her concerns in her later years, “If I am obnoxious or unmanageable, I want appropriate treatment.” She was in fact just the opposite; the staff at Teresian House found her grateful and loving and all there will miss her prayerful spirit.