St. Raphael's window repair honors
New Ulm native Manderfeld has been
playing organ 72 years
By FRITZ BUSCH
Journal Staff Writer
SPRINGFIELD -- The restoration of a
stained glass window at St. Raphael Catholic Church honors
an organist and music teacher with more than seven decades
Bernice Marti Manderfeld, who has
roots in New Ulm, has been playing the church's organ since
1934 and continues to play music to this day. She has taught
music to hundreds of Springfield area residents.
"She's had a tremendous musical
influence on many people," said Father Dennis Labat of St.
Raphael's. "If she's asked, Bernice continues to play music
by heart, including Mass at St. Johns Home in Springfield."
The church established a fund to honor
Manderfeld and restore a stained glass window that features
St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, playing the
The 91-year-old window is original to
the church. With the removal of a balcony, it will be an
even more prominent church feature and will include wording
honoring Manderfeld for her service.
Bernadette Cecilia Manderfeld was the
last child born to Rudolph and Mary (Huelskamp) Marti, a
very musical family in New Ulm. Bernice was named after St.
Rudolph and Mary Marti raised seven
children. Everyone sang and played musical instruments. The
boys played horn and violin while the girls played piano.
At age 6, Bernice began piano lessons
from her first cousin who played music for silent movies.
By age 9, Bernice began teaching her
friends and neighborhood children to play the piano.
Manderfeld's musical debut took place
in 6th grade. She and another young girl sang "Moonlight and
Roses," and "I Get the Blues When it Rains," with the
Whoopee John Wilfahrt Orchestra at a car show at the
Minnesota National Guard armory in New Ulm.
The girls sang in English and German.
Whoopee John wanted them to tour with the orchestra. The
notion was not approved by Bernice's mother.
Bernice began pipe organ lessons in
6th grade. She studied music during her high school years at
Our Lady of Good Counsel Academy in Mankato.
Living in New Ulm in 1930, Manderfeld
attended MacPahil Center for Music in Minneapolis. She rode
the train to Minneapolis one day a week, took piano, voice
and music theory lessons and rode the train back at night.
After a few years of study at McPhail,
Bernice studied piano for three years with her first cousin,
World War II kept Alma from touring
France as a concert pianist. She studied piano at the Boston
Under Alma Marti, Bernice learned
about the need to listen closely to music.
Bernice met Chris Manderfeld through
mutual friends. The couple married at Holy Trinity Catholic
Church in 1934 and settled in Springfield.
Manderfeld continued to drive to New
Ulm to give music lessons until she began having children.
Bernice began teaching piano in Springfield when her mother
moved in with the family after Rudolph Marti died.
Many of Manderfeld's students advanced
to state competition at Northrup Auditorium at the
University of Minnesota. About a dozen were state winners..
Music continues in the family.
"When the family gathers, there are so
many musicians, it's like a band," Bernice said.
Manderfeld retired from teaching music
in 2004, but admitted she continues to teach it in her
The total cost of the church window
restoration project is $13,000. Work is scheduled to be
complete in mid-April.
Those wishing to donate may contact
Father Dennis Labat or Connie Vogel at St. Raphael's at
507-723-4141 or 723-4137.
Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com