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Altar Bread manager enjoying new role

Altar Bread manager enjoying new role - (12-09-2018)

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PHOTO: Altar Bread Operations Manager Margaret Branner (far left) inspects presider breads with Sister Gladys Ruth Noreen, OSB (center) and Sister Ramona Varela, OSB. Margaret took over the reins of the department in April and is enjoying getting to know the Sisters, lay employees and the altar bread production process.

After 25 years of working in large manufacturing plants, Margaret Branner grew intrigued by a different type of production, which led her to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri, this spring.

In April, Margaret was named operations manager of the congregation’s altar bread department, which has provided communion hosts for more than 100 years.

Originally from New York, Margaret earned a degree in chemical engineering from Clarkson University in New York. She spent almost 20 years working for Energizer in facilities in Ohio, Vermont and Missouri. Most recently, she worked for six years in quality assurance for Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Plant in Maryville, Missouri. Altar bread, lawn mower engines, household consumer batteries…what’s the linking thread?

“Basically, I was looking for a change,” Margaret said. “In my other jobs, the when and where of changing from one role to another was often determined for you. When the altar bread position with the Benedictine Sisters came along, it was a chance for me to take control of the change of direction. The thought of going from being a small component of large manufacturing to a larger component of small manufacturing was intriguing and appealing due to the differences and challenges it would bring.” 

As operations manager, Margaret’s main duties encompass production scheduling to maintain necessary product inventory, maintaining supply inventory levels, equipment maintenance tracking and planning, and implementing operational improvements.  

“In the short time since I started, I am amazed and in awe of the energy, dedication and heart of the lay employees and the Sisters. Many have worked here 20 to 30 years; others a handful of months to just a few years,” Margaret said. “Regardless of the years of service, each and every one gives their whole heart and full energy to what they do here.”

According to Margaret, the biggest challenges have been dealing with the moving and changing parts that are part of the production process.

“It’s like one of those locking puzzles,” she said, “where everything is linked together but the shape can be a little different every day. One of my early managers told me that it takes about six months to figure out how you want to make a job your own. I think I’ll use every bit of of that time!”

She and her husband live in nearby Maryville with their two daughters.