CORNELIUS – Some might say that the faith journey of the von Trapp family, made famous by the movie “The Sound of Music,” began with a Catholic nun named Maria. But they would be wrong.
The granddaughter of Maria and Captain von Trapp, Elisabeth von Trapp, who performed Jan. 24 at Mt. Zion Methodist Church, set the record straight.
“Maria was not a nun!” Elisabeth said. “She was not even a postulant. She was a teacher that they hired.”
Maria, who had gone to teacher’s college, was hired by the nuns to teach at the Nonnburg Abbey school in Salzburg.
But Elisabeth said her famous grandmother did consider becoming a nun, at least until the Mother Abbess told her she had “another role in life.” Fourteen years ago, Elisabeth met her grandmother’s roommate at Nonnberg, who was in the room when Maria returned from her talk with the Mother Abbess. The roommate said Maria was “very cross” about the Mother’s decision.
“Maria was a very devout Catholic her whole life,” Elisabeth said. “Her faith never wavered.”
Elisabeth grew up Catholic but is now Episcopalian. Like her grandmother, she takes an ecumenical view of faith.
Maria von Trapp organized and hosted the first ecumenical conference in Vermont. She invited priests and pastors from the area to the Trapp Family Lodge.
When they all sat down together at the table, Maria said to them, “And now we must have a discussion.”
Also like her grandmother, Elisabeth relates to God through her music.
“Music helps bring me into my feeling of inner peacefulness or a centered sense of who I am and having God in my heart,” Elisabeth said. “The beauty of going from one church to the next, that’s the other half of it.”
The von Trapp family would always sing at family gatherings. Elisabeth said songs were a very important part of celebrating life.
At those gatherings, Elisabeth said, “My grandmother would always say, ‘One more (song), one more before you go.”