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Tributes paid to Quidenham nun Sr Katrin

Norfolk Catholic nun, Sr Katrin Foerster, of Quidenham Carmel, died on February 7. Born a Jew, Katrin converted to Christianity in her early teens and was noted for her characteristic smile and sense of humour. Fr John McGowan pays tribute.

Sr Katrin was an extraordinary person, with such humanity and gift for friendship, just like St Teresa of Avila. I met her when she was in Sclerder Carmel, Cornwall. Her story is fascinating, especially her childhood. Born Jewish in Germany, her father was killed because of his opposition to Hitler.

As a child, she and her sister were sent to England on the Kindertransport. Her mother was beside herself with grief. Someone nearby noticed, asked her what was the problem. He suggested she marry a Dutchman, then she could go to the Netherlands and send for her children. She thanked him but asked: “where would I find a Dutchman to marry me?” The man replied: “I’m Dutch, and I’ll marry you.” They went on to get married.

The couple went to the Netherlands and brought Katrin and her sister from London. But then the Nazis invaded. The two girls were arrested and put in a camp in preparation for transportation to a concentration camp. The parents managed to bribe a guard and the girls escaped. They spent the rest of the war in hiding.

Sometime after, Katrin decided to be baptised. She didn’t tell me why. I hope it was the example of Christians who had helped the family. Sometime later she became a Carmelite nun. There were lots of nuns in the Netherlands.

She was sent to Iceland, where she spent many years. She then came to England and joined Sclerder Carmel. I met her there on a few occasions. I always remember enjoying her company: she would join me at breakfast, and we would talk and laugh. I know a Dutch film crew came to Sclerder to film her.

Sadly Sclerder had to close in 2014 and Sr Katrin spent the final years of her life in Quidenham, Norfolk. Heaven will now be a livelier place. May she rest in peace.

This article first appeared in Independent Catholic News

Read more tributes to Str Katrin on Facebook:

Sr Katrin (seated on the right)- image from Quidenham Carmel Facebook page.