*** If you have missed previous Featured Member postings or would like to revisit them, go to the Featured Member Archives page.
The mission of the Benedictine Sisters is reverence. Through common prayer, stewardship, hospitality, and mutual respect, we seek to find and honor God present in each person and in all created things.
We chose "reverence" as the spirit of our mission for its Latin roots that mean "to see again." Join us in taking a fresh look at life. Discover God in yourself and in the world around you.
From October 17-20, 2018, the Federation of St. Scholastica paid our monastery a canonical visitation. This assessment provided us collaborative feedback offering support, advice, and direction. The Federation Visitators confirmed that the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago continue to do extraordinary work. We are grateful to our Visitators and the Visitation Committee for their guidance and preparation.
In our most recent newsletter, Sacro Speco, we featured a timeline of all of the prioresses of the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago (1861-present) as well as the five living past prioresses and the current prioress. Our rich history is shared with many other monasteries in the Federation of St. Scholastica as some of our early members helped to found other Benedictine communities in the United States.
To view the Sacro Speco newsletter, please visit our website.
Alumnae- Our Development and Communications office continues to spearhead an opportunity for each Alumnae Class of St. Scholastica Academy Chicago to celebrate a Reunion weekend every five years after their graduation. In fall 2019 we will celebrate those alumnae from classes ending in ’_ 4 and ’_9. Our two academies have closed, but the Alumnae continue to support one another and our Benedictine community by attending Reunion weekend and our annual fundraising dinner (gala).
Archives- Sister Virginia Jung, OSB, Community Archivist has hosted a Chicago Open Archives event each of the past two years and continues to work with DePaul University student interns and other undergraduate and graduate students on various projects to enhance our Archives and to continue to preserve our history.
Oblates- Sister Benita Coffey, OSB, Director of Oblates, and Sister Mary Susan Remsgar, OSB new liaison to the Colorado Oblates, continue to foster Benedictine Spirituality with our 130 active Oblates of St. Scholastica Monastery, Chicago, IL who live locally in Chicago, IL or in Pueblo, CO.
Social Justice- Social Justice Promoter, Sister Benita Coffey, OSB, who is active with Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants, planned and participated in the Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: Responding with Love, Mercy, and Justice event at Catholic Theological Union in September, a discussion of current immigration and detention issues. Sister Patricia Crowley, OSB was a featured speaker at one of the breakout sessions; she addressed the birth of Bethany House of Hospitality and described how this organization cares for immigrant women seeking asylum. On September 21st, the community marked the 70th Anniversary of the UN’s International Day of Peace with an evening prayer vigil. And in November, our Sisters attended area-wide events commemorating the Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life victims at a local synagogue.
Vocations-Sister Belinda Monahan, OSB, Vocation Minister, spearheaded an important panel for young Catholics and Vocation directors. During the live-streamed event, You Talk. We’ll Listen, And Together We’ll Grow younger Catholics discussed the church’s challenges and gifts and described how ( the) vowed religious can better connect with them. Sister Belinda also has hosted monthly Discernment discussion groups for young women and continues to offer two Discernment Weekend Retreat opportunities for young women (18-50) who are discerning religious life.
To learn more about the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago, please visit our website www.osbchicago.org or follow or like us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
2018 was a year of challenge, change and constant grace for the members of St. Walburg Monastery.
Last year when we wrote our article for the newsletter we were happy and hopeful about our property sale project and the Sanctuary housing development for the 85 acres west of the monastery. Right after we sent the article to the Federation, some citizens of Villa Hills started a Defend Villa Hills campaign. The focus of their discontent was a four story apartment building to be built on the property. They felt that the apartment building was not in keeping with the bedroom community nature of Villa Hills with its one family homes. They were concerned about the increase in traffic and the need to make road improvements. Signs appeared throughout Villa Hills, and citizens came to three public meetings held by the City Council of Villa Hills and loudly expressed their point of view. When the City Council voted 4 to 2 on March 6 to make a zoning change so that the project could go through, the Defend Villa Hills instituted a suit against us, the developer and the City Council of Villa Hills. The suit went to Circuit Court and the judge has not yet ruled.
The group also formed a PAC to support the election of council members that were opposed to the development and in November, the mayor of Villa Hills and all council members except one were voted out of office. The project is now stalled and we are waiting for the judge to rule.
In May we did sell the 17 acres of the property to the east of the monastery to Madonna Manor.
On April 3 the community elected Sr. Aileen Bankemper prioress. She appointed Sr. Nancy Kordenbrock, subprioress and treasurer and appointed Srs. Cathy Bauer, Christa Kreinbrink and Kimberly Porter to the community council. On May 5 community members elected Srs. Barbara Woeste, Denise Gough and Mary Rabe to the community council. Among other changes, Sr. Mary Catherine Wenstrup was appointed Director of the Infirmary.
Srs. Aileen Bankemper, Mary Catherine Wenstrup, Rita Brink, Dorothy Schuette and Kimberly Porter attended the Federation Chapter meeting in June. Sr. Kimberly Porter was elected to the Federation Council.
St.Walburg Monastery has a long-standing relationship with St. Bede Academy sponsored by the monks of St. Bede Monastery in Peru, Illinois. For past 3 years in July students from St. Bede Academy under the direction of Chaplain Father Ronald Margherio have travelled to St. Walburg’s on a mission trip to serve others through social agencies in Covington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio. This summer eleven students with chaperones spent a week on such a mission.
Sr. Cathy Bauer, with her social work background, welcomed them and guided them through a week of prayer, reflection and services opportunities in a program called Living Out Loud. The students always spend a day at the monastery doing service work, praying, playing and dining with the sisters. They especially enjoy an art project with our artist Sr. Emmanuel. The art project provides them an opportunity to create something unique and take it back with them to St. Bede’s and their families.
They spent the rest of the week with other young people from the local area providing service in soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters, respite care facilities, adult day care centers and in the ones of low income families. Fr. Ron says the purpose of the summer mission is to open the eyes of his students and allow them to get to know the less fortunate as individuals.
Fr. Ron also does a Mystery Tour with some of the students at St. Bede’s. The students on the tour are not told where they are going. This past fall eight students came to the monastery for an overnight stay on their way to another destination. Fr. Ron says the Mystery Tour builds trust and flexibility in the students.
On the afternoon of August 13 we discovered that there had been a burglary, and not only was cash missing but also 150 profession rings of deceased sister had been stolen. After Srs. Aileen and Nancy were interviewed by local reporters and we had reported the thief to the police and written about it on our Facebook page, we garnered a lot of publicity locally, nationally and internationally. Most people commented that they were appalled that someone would take the rings and we received messages of support and prayers. The rings have not been recovered.
From October 27 through November 2, Sr. Cathy Bauer had the privilege of being part of the last week of the 2018 Nuns on the Bus Tax Justice Truth Tour. She met the bus on October 27 in Washington, DC and continued on to Mar-a-Lago, Florida. Sr. Cathy found the experience both exhausting and energizing She began with words from Pope Francis, “A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of him/herself so that those who govern can govern.” She ended the tour by wishing to share the hope and joy that were shared at the site visits and the idea “that we are called to meddle into politics and urge our representatives to see that each policy that is passed takes into consideration how the most vulnerable individuals and families are affected.”
After thirty years of serving the poor and homeless in downtown Covington through the Northern Kentucky Family Health program (late known as HealthPoint), Sr. Ann John Kotch retired from that ministry. She had established the Pike Street Clinic for the Homeless which became a central place for the homeless to receive medical care from TB tests to blood pressure check. Doing this work Sr. Ann John established working relationship with other social agencies in the Northern Kentucky area and the clinic was in a central location that enabled its clients to have other needs met in a seamless way. On November 16 she received the Msgr. Bill Cleves Award from the Family Community Pharmacy. See Sr. Ann John and Msgr. Cleves right. She had been on their first board and developed a free medical support system for the homeless and poor of the area. Sr. Ann John will be missed in Covington, but is thinking about opportunities for volunteering.
During the year Sr. Dorothy Schuette has been part of directed retreat teams at the Jesuit Retreat Center in Milford, Ohio. She has also offered silent directed retreats at the monastery Guest House as part of the Center of Spirituality offerings. Under the auspices of the Center of Spirituality, she and Sr. Kimberly have offered two presentations entitled Mindfulness, Meditation and Movement.
Other Center of Spirituality programs were a Lenten program Exodus: Finding God While being Seduced by Other ‘gods’ presented by Deacon Royce Winters (See picture left) from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and a September program entitled Holiness in the Ordinary: Reflections on Pope Francis’ Exhortation Gaudete et Exultate presented by Msgr. Bill Cleves, a popular speaker from the Diocese of Covington. Both programs attracted many participants , including sisters, Oblates, friends and the general public.
This past summer Pam McQueen, Executive Director and Junior High/High School Principal of Villa Madonna Academy, attended the first Benedictine Leadership Institute in Lisle, Illinois. She and VMA Religion Faculty Member, Eileen O’Connell developed the Benedictine Exchange Program for Benedictine Schools. The program‘s goal is to connect teenagers from across the nation who have a shared philosophy and a shared sense of spirituality to meet and explore how to make the world a better place. From November 14-18 Villa Madonna Academy hosted students and faculty from St. Bernard Prep in Cullman, Alabama as the first venture of the program. The Cullman students stayed at the monastery Guest House, participated in Villa’s class schedule, besides seeing the sights of Cincinnati. They also joined the VMA students for the annual Tweed Twirl where the Villa DJ played Sweet Home Alabama. They came to the monastery for Sunday Eucharist and learned about the monastery’s history. They discovered similarities and differences between the two schools. Villa students will visit St. Bernard Prep in the spring.
In late November Sr. Rita Brink announced that St. Mary Parish in St. Marys, Pennsylvania contracted to purchase the 15 acres and buildings of St. Joseph Monastery where she has been the administrator since 2013. We are very glad that Sr. Rita will be coming back to St. Walburg’s soon.
Finally, seven members of the community died this year. It was a significant loss for us and has focused our thoughts even more on future planning for a smaller community. The sisters who died were: Srs. Philomena Rarreick (January), Esther O’Hara (February), Margaret Mary Dressman (April), Jeanette Frisch (June), Martha Feder (July), Cecilia Daigle (August) and Helen Hergott (December). We are sure all of them are enjoying eternal life with the Communion of Saints.
After a year of challenges, changes and constant grace we look forward to 2019 and wish the members of the Federation monasteries a joyful New Year blessed by all of God’s good gifts and graces.
Federation of St. Scholastica
916 Convent Rd NE,
Cullman, AL 35055
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