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Sacred Heart Monastery, Lisle, IL

Byzantine Benedictine Sisters Appoint a New Administrator 

In a ritual before evening prayer, on May 29, 2018, Sister Mary Bratrsovsky appointed Sister Barbara Pavlik as Administrator of Queen of Heaven Monastery in Warren, Ohio. Sister Mary and the Warren Sisters also thanked and blessed the outgoing Administrator, Sister Agnes Knapik, for her five years of service.

Sisters in the photo from left to right are Sister Agnes Knapik, Sister Marion Dobos, Sister Mary Bratrsovsky (Prioress at Sacred Heart Monastery in Lisle,) Sister Barbara Pavlik and Sister Mary Martha Kacmarek OSB.

The installation called for a Dinner at Enzo's to celebrate!

Spirituality Programs 

We continue our outreach program for our sisters and the general public


Tuesday Nights with the Sisters
We invite you to Tuesday Night with the Sisters. Programs take place in the Monastery Chapter Room from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

2018 Theme: The Diversity of Benedictine Life -how sisters, monks, oblates and lay people live their Benedictine Life.

 

April 10: Monastic Prayer
Let's take a look at and appreciate the prayer life of monastics.
Presenters: Sisters Mary Bratrsovsky, Christine Kouba, and Sharon Marie Stola

 

May 8: Stability and Environmental Stewardship: Think Global, Act Local
Jean-Marie Kauth will describe her work with environmental stewardship at Benedictine University and elsewhere and discuss the connection with the Benedictine hallmark of stability.
Presenter: Jean-Marie Kauth, PhD

 

June 12: What Makes a Homily Good?
Homily means “dialogue.” So let’s really talk.
Presenter: Fr. Becket Franks

 

August 14: LISTENING: “He who has ears, let him hear.” (Mk 4:23, Mt 11:15)
Most of us spend considerably more time each day in listening rather than in reading, writing or speaking, yet we listen at only 25% efficiency. To truly implement the Benedictine values of hospitality, justice, respect and stewardship, we can benefit from learning very specific steps to increase/improve our listening skills.
Presenter: Cindy Power

 

September 11: Peace on Earth: Exploring the call of Pope John XXIII
The anniversary of September 11th is a painful reminder of how far we are from peace on earth. Join the oblates of Sacred Heart Monastery as we explore Saint Pope John XXIII's call for peace on earth in his 1963 encyclical "Pacem in Terris" and celebrate our own prayer service for peace throughout this entire planet we call home.
Presenters: Jane Doyle, Beth Hemzacek, and Cathy Lentz

 

October 16: The Great Silence
In this age and culture of Twitter storms and constant outrage, we could benefit from the wisdom of St. Benedict regarding Restraint of Speech. This presentation examines the value of silence in a well-lived life.
Presenter: Chris Fletcher

 

November 13: Bridge or Barrier? Mary and Christian-Muslim Relations
Moving through early, medieval, and modern times to travel across Western Europe and the Balkans to the Middle East and India, this talk will explore how Mary's role in Christian-Muslim relations has constantly shifted from bridge to barrier and back again.
Presenter: Rita George-Tvrtkovic 

Lisle Benedictines send their third international student (Sister Anna Duong) “home” after completing her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at Benedictine University!   

Sister Anna returned to Vietnam September 7, 2018. She is very grateful for our presence and prayers during her stay here in the United States. Our community will miss her gentle and joyful presence as we wish her all the best of God’s blessings.  

A Blessing of the restored roof over Villa St. Benedict,  Sacred Heart Monastery and the new        Administration Offices.

Blessing of the newly restored roof, cupola and cross

“Almighty God, we ask your blessing upon this restoration project, its builders and its donors who helped Villa St. Benedict and Sacred Heart Monastery make this possible. As we bless this project with holy water, send your guardian angel, placed before this building, to bless us and all those who live and work here. May this project keep us safe from all water damage as we  continue to minister to the needs of one  another.  May we look kindly on all who enter."

“O God, in Your wise providence      You  are glad to bless all human labor, the work of our hands and of our minds. Grant that all who plan to conduct business in these offices be guided with Your support. 

 

May all who work in these offices greet one another and receive others as if they were Christ Himself. May our core values of Hospitality, Respect, Stewardship and Justice be the guiding force of all our communication and decisions.”

Sister Irene Jasien, blessing the roof project. Sister Irene Jasien, blessing the roof project.
Kathy DiCristina welcoming Luke Fredrickson to show a PowerPoint of the process of Renaissance Roofing                    renovating the roof of Villa St. Benedict and Sacred Heart Monastery. Nearly 100 in attendance. Kathy DiCristina welcoming Luke Fredrickson to show a PowerPoint of the process of Renaissance Roofing renovating the roof of Villa St. Benedict and Sacred Heart Monastery. Nearly 100 in attendance.

Holy Name Monastery, St. Leo, FL

SUMMER TIME and the LIV’IN IS…

The Benedictine Sisters of Florida were looking for a “somewhat” slower summer, but it hasn’t been thus.  Retreatants, prayer groups, an evening with guest speakers, volunteer service for the homeless, our annual retreat … the activities go on.  We are blessed to have this new monastery/home and retreat wing.  Visitors talk about what a peaceful experience they have and that Benedictine Hospitality, which we strive to provide, is warm and welcoming.  

Sister Tracy begins her novitiate year

June was especially blessed with the acceptance of Sister Tracey Adams into our community as a Novice. In her own words, Sister describes how she came to be at Holy Name –

 

My path to this life has not been a straight shot or direct route. There have been plenty of ups and downs, twists and turns, calamities and God-sends. As I now know, the timing was in God’s hands: I have arrived here neither too early nor too late. And it was in awe, and not a few apprehensions, that I approached this turning point.  Would I be equal to the task of continuous spiritual dedication my new vocation asked of me?  Would my world seem alternately too small within the semi-cloistered walls of Holy Name, and too large in context of my new-found responsibilities to the world-wide community of the human family?  Most importantly, would God accept this flawed and feisty woman into this most blessed of his homes?  But as I was encouraged to choose the hymns and psalms that would make up the liturgy for my entrance into the novitiate, I became calmer in the knowledge that this is where I was meant to be – where I could be part of a community dedicated to making a difference.

 

For Sister Tracey, the novitiate will be a year of study and prayer. Of course, there will be some internal ministry involved as well … we wouldn’t be Benedictine if we left out service to each other.  Balance in these aspects of Benedictine life is what she will strive to achieve and continue as she goes on in religious life.  It will be a joy for the Community to watch and help Sister Tracey become the person God is calling her to be.

The Prayer Service and reception were attended by Sister Tracey’s mom, Sharon La Fave, other family members, friends and her parish priest and spiritual director from St. Petersburg, FL, Father Tim Sherwood. Lots of welcoming hugs from everyone followed and then a special dinner.

 

We are excited and very pleased as well to have received one of our affiliates, Marietta Dinopol, as a postulant during Sunday evening Prayer, July 15th.

Aqua/Hydroponics 

From February until June and before the summer got too hot, the Aquaponics garden gave forth God’s bounty in vegetables of every kind including peppers, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, cucumber, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, beets and herbs.  Sister Miriam and a few volunteers harvested 604 pounds of food and also sold an added 108 pounds.  

Annual Retreat

July 26 through the 31st brought Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, O.S.B. to lead the Sisters’ annual retreat. The theme was “The Benedictine Life and the Paschal Mystery.”  In addition to daily sessions, we were able to have private conferences with the Abbot and Eucharist daily, time for reflection or walks on our spacious grounds.

Family Nights

“Uno means nothing.”

 “I only needed one more card to have a run!”

 “That can’t be a word, I don’t care what the book says!”

 

These are sounds heard on Sunday evenings in the monastery when we have Family Night. We gather in the multipurpose room to play games and enjoy each other.  Currently, we have three games going: Uno, Phase 10, and Scrabble. The games played are changed periodically. These stress-free evenings are filled with much laughter, especially Sister Mary Romana’s giggles. Like with any family, we are brought closer together.

 

Family Night started in 2010 and is now an institution. We don’t let too many weeks go by, even if busy, before having our night of fun together. Guests, volunteers, and anyone who happens to be around can join in. 

Monthly Concerts

Music has always been an integral part of the ministries of the Benedictine Sisters of Florida.  Even when first opening Holy Name Academy for girls in 1889, music education was part of the curriculum. The Sisters who taught in schools throughout Florida brought their love and appreciation of music to their students.  Sister Helen (who is looking forward to her 105th birthday on September 28th) has fond memories of writing musicals, teaching all the parts to her elementary students, and joyfully watching their performance development.

 

The free Monthly Concerts hosted on Sunday afternoons have brought not only those familiar with the Sisters and our ministries, but also many people who would not otherwise think to visit here.  The concerts are presented from September through April and feature different choirs from local churches.  The music varies: Gospel, traditional, chants, music of India, bells, and even a few quartet groups.  The Sisters usually sing a piece or two as well.

 

The choir directors love having their groups sing/play in our chapel because the acoustics are exceptional.

One said tearfully that her choir sounded the best she had ever heard them! 

Fall is not right around the corner for us, but we do look forward to fewer days of 90 degree weather soon. We certainly don’t get a super visible fall season, but even little changes that come in November are beautiful.  The air gets crisp and fresh so sitting outside and watching one of our spectacular sun sets is a highlight of the day. Did you see the “Strawberry Moon” on July 27th?

 

                              Hurry-up and get here Fall!

Monasterio Pan de Vida, Torreon, Mexico

Main monastery building Main monastery building

Pan de Vida Monastery, the youngest community in the Federation of St. Scholastica, celebrated its 25th anniversary in November, 2017.  

Mission Statement: "We are a community of sisters rooted in the Gospel and the Rule of St. Benedict, applied to our time in Call to Life.  We accompany those around us, with a preferential option for impoverished women; and in this way contribute to building more humane relationships in Mexican families, in society and in the Church."

Cactus flowers tend to bloom for a day or two  once a year or once every few years. Cactus flowers tend to bloom for a day or two once a year or once every few years.

We have accepted the challenge of living our monastic life in a semi-arid climate, closely surrounded by neighbors, small businesses and street vendors.  It has taught us to create silence within, to be centered and walk in God’s presence in every situation and to be very respectful of each other’s needs.  We have learned to care for creation and help the dry and solitary land rejoice and blossom (Is 35,1)

View across the street from the monastery View across the street from the monastery
In 2016 we elected our second prioress,  Sister Maricarmen Bracamontes  (front row, second from right) In 2016 we elected our second prioress, Sister Maricarmen Bracamontes (front row, second from right)
On the Feast of St. Scholastica Sister Alejandra, our newest member, began her novitiate during Vespers. On the Feast of St. Scholastica Sister Alejandra, our newest member, began her novitiate during Vespers.
Local women participating in a workshop on peace-building at our Center Local women participating in a workshop on peace-building at our Center

Our external ministries begin at and flow from CEDIMSE, St. Scholastica  Center for the Development of Women, located down the street from the monastery.  At the Cnter we offer a variety of services to women and their families, such as shared prayer with lectio divina, spiritual companionship, counseling, workshops for those who are grieving the multiple losses that they face, brief courses on women in Scripture,  human development, social analysis with a gender perspective and peace-building.  

Children participating in a parade for environmental protection Children participating in a parade for environmental protection

When women are asked what they need, many of them reply that they want help with their children.  So, what began many years ago as a space for women, has grown into a family center, which includes summer programs for grade school children, youth groups focused on self-esteem, building healthy relationships, avoiding addictions etc.   Our library offers many services besides lending books.  It is a cool, quiet space where the young can get help with their homework and children can find a game to play.  Since some children won’t cross the avenue that separates our Center from the adjoining neighborhood, some of our young adult volunteers set up a reading and play space one afternoon a week on the wide median strip in front of our Center.  

Young people helping to clean up the neighborhood.   CEDIMSE (the brown building) can be seen in the background). Young people helping to clean up the neighborhood. CEDIMSE (the brown building) can be seen in the background).

Recently we invited our new Bishop, Don Luis Martín Barraza to our annual prayer and dinner in gratitude to the more than fifty oblates and friends who collaborate in CEDIMSE.   He was happy to receive our Benedictine blessing.

Sisters serving our many helpers at the dinner held in their honor Sisters serving our many helpers at the dinner held in their honor

Beyond CEDIMSE we reach out in service within our Diocese with classes and conferences at the Seminary, the Institute for the Formation of Pastoral Ministers and Catholic Charities, two Women’s Study Groups and a civil organization dedicated to helping families find their members who have “disappeared” in recent years due to drug violence or police brutality.  

Patricia giving a reflection on the Benedictine history of our schools to a group of staff members from our schools in Mexico City. Patricia giving a reflection on the Benedictine history of our schools to a group of staff members from our schools in Mexico City.

We have renewed our long-distance involvement in three Benedictine schools in the Mexico City area and continue to participate in Religious life in general and Benedictine life in particular on a national and international level.  Maricarmen continues to serve on the theological team of CLAR (Confederation of Latin American Religious) and Mariana is the secretary of the Mexican Benedictine-Cistercian Union.  

St. Gertrude Monastery, Ridgely, MD

Attentive to the continuing call of the Spirit and the summons of our vow of conversion, we commit ourselves to daily Liturgy of the Hours, Lectio and Worship. As Benedictine women, we strive to listen to the message of the Gospel, the Rule and the Wisdom of one another as we respond to the challenges of our communal life, our Church and the needs of those around us.

                                                                                                          --Charism Statement

New Beginnings

New monastery drawing New monastery drawing

For the fourth time in our community’s history, we are transitioning to a different geographical area and a new monastery.  Having spent the last 5 years praying, searching for and purchasing property, working with architects, planners and builders, we finally broke ground on November 1, 2017.  We anticipate that we will make the move from Ridgely, Maryland to Newark, Delaware by the end of 2018.

New monastery drawing New monastery drawing

Remembering Where We Came From

The Ridgely Benedictines originated from Germany in 1852 when 3 nuns arrived in America and settled in St. Mary’s, PA. 

 

In 1857, 6 sisters traveled to Newark, NJ to teach at St. Mary’s parish school and in 1859 they became an independent monastery.

 

In 1887, under the second elected prioress of the Newark community, Mother Dolorosa Berg, the monastery transferred from Newark, NJ to the Bourne estate, named “The Plains”, near Ridgely, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Soon after the sisters arrived, St. Gertrude Academy was opened on the convent grounds - continuing what would become a long tradition of educating young students.

 

In addition to teaching in Newark and Ridgely, the sisters further expanded their ministry over time to teaching in schools throughout the Diocese of Wilmington.

 

In 1959, as the need for special education increased, St. Gertrude Academy was phased out and the Benedictine School for Exceptional Children was established. 

A new school was built in 1964, replacing the old Academy and was followed by the Habilitation Center and the Open Community Program.  Today these programs are collectively called the Benedictine Program and Services.

 

After Vatican II, the sisters, again responding to the needs of the times, pursued additional ministries in nursing, social work, counseling, and library science.

Where We Are Today

In 1982, under the patronage of St. Martin DePorres, several sisters began collecting and distributing food, clothing, and other necessities to the poor of the area- it was the beginning of St. Martin's Barn.  In 1993, St. Martin's House was opened as a transitional residence for homeless women and children; both ministries are still very active today.

In 1982, Sr. Miriam Ruth Wilk initiated the Oblate program at St. Gertrude Monastery.  Today, this fulfilling ministry has grown to over 35 Oblates who gather for monthly meetings at the monastery that include prayer, Mass and brunch with our sisters, study of the Rule, lectures on Benedictine values and retreats.

Our sisters and our Oblates currently share a blog with 2 nearby monasteries, Emmanuel in Lutherville, MD and St. Benedict in Bristow, VA.  3 OSB Connections provides seasonal reflections with posts by members of each community throughout Advent and Lenten seasons.  

 

The concept of this new TriCommunity effort is to deepen our charism and foster commitment “to creating collaborative relationships to support one another in living and stewarding this gift now and into the future."

Where We Are Going

After relocating and establishing ourselves in Newark, DE our primary ministries will continue to be communal prayer and hospitality.

 

This is a very exciting time for us!  We are exploring many options for our future. 

We are looking forward to opening our monastery doors to our neighbors, family, friends, and anyone seeking to share our Benedictine way of life.

St. Joseph Monastery, Tulsa, OK

The Benedictine Sisters of St. Joseph Monastery in Tulsa, OK invite you to visit their website at stjosephmonastery.org to learn more about their community, ministries, and events.

St. Joseph Monastery Chapel St. Joseph Monastery Chapel

St. Benedict Monastery, Pittsburgh, PA

The Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh--Our History

 The Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh were established in 1870 in Carrolltown, PA, about 80 miles east of Pittsburgh. Eventually, these women educators spread throughout southwestern Pennsylvania and Ohio. Upon their arrival on the Northside of Pittsburgh in 1885, they founded a monastery and opened a school nearby.

 

In 1927 the Sisters moved their monastery to Ross Township, a suburb to the north of Pittsburgh. Mount St. Mary’s High School for Girls opened in 1931 which evolved into St. Benedict Academy, which the Sisters owned and staffed until 1985.

St. Benedict Academy building St. Benedict Academy building

 

 

When St. Benedict Academy closed, the building was used by several non-profit service agencies with whom the Sisters collaborated, including Meals on Wheels, Easter Seals Adult Day Care, and Benedictine Place-- apartments for women with children in transition. Sisters served as staff and helped these programs in numerous ways from 1985 through 2012.

Monastery at Bakerstown location Monastery at Bakerstown location

The cost of maintaining large buildings prompted the Sisters to construct a smaller, environmentally-friendly monastery that would be more appropriate to their needs. Now the Sisters continue their monastic way of prayer, community life, and ministry at the new St. Benedict Monastery in Bakerstown, PA, a little further north of Pittsburgh, where they moved in 2013. 

A Sampling of Current Ministries

Spiritual Spas: For more than 15 years, the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh have offered women the opportunity to step back from their busy schedules and breathe deeply. Just as there is a need to refresh and renew the body, so there is a need to revitalize and recharge the spirit. In addition to candles and music, prayer and meaningful discussion on spiritual themes, friendship and good food bring peace and strengthen the whole person—body, mind, spirit. The Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh refer to such an experience as a Spiritual Spa. Participants come from various religious backgrounds and different walks of life. The Spa is offered at the monastery two or three times a year for women and has included the Sisters’ family members, oblates, friends, former students, and women from surrounding parishes. 

 

Guatemala Mission: When the Sisters relocated to Bakerstown in 2013, they made a point to become involved in their new neighborhood. Within a short time, Sister Corrine Moeller, Sister Linda Larkman and Sister Jeanne Ubinger began volunteering at nearby Saint Richard Parish. They serve on the Guatemala Mission Group committee which supports an orphanage in Guatemala. The mission also includes a clinic, hospital, nutrition center, and preschool. Providing resources for the mission is a continuous effort, so the Sisters help with all the necessary fundraising activities, including parish breakfasts, bake sales, a Mother’s Day basket raffle, and an annual 5K race. 

New Year’s Eve Peace Vigil New Year’s Eve Peace Vigil

Peace and Justice Ministries: Benedictines for Peace is a committee within the Community which prays for and promotes peace and justice. Chaired by Sister Susanne Chenot, the group’s main activity is an annual New Year’s Eve Peace Vigil which is open to the public. The vigil features dinner, a musical concert, prayer service, speaker, and fellowship. During Lent, the Benedictines for Peace lead a special service of the Stations of the Cross at the monastery in which the prayers relate to current social justice issues. Sister Susan Merrie English volunteers as secretary Benedictines for Peace as well as Casa San Jose which is a community resource center that advocates for and assists individuals and families of Latino descent in the Greater Pittsburgh area.

 

Bereavement Ministry: For the past two years, Sister Michelle Farabaugh has been coordinating a monthly bereavement support group that meets at a nearby parish. This small group is open to anyone who has experienced grief, either recent or long term. The unstructured format allows people to share their feelings with people who are facing similar issues. The members help each other deal with the everyday issues of life, such as cooking for one person, or working out the new family dynamics that often occur after the death of a spouse, parent, or child.

 

Angels in Overalls: This program provides furniture for homeless or low-income families through various nonprofits. Directed by Sister Florence Lynch using a handful of volunteers, Angels in Overalls work is done in the evening and on weekends. Sister Florence picks up, refurbishes and stores donated furniture until it needs to be delivered. For instance, when Catholic Charities calls to for a “set up” for a refugee family, the necessary items include a bed, night stand, lamp, drawers, a table, couch or loveseat, armchair, lamp and coffee table so the family will have a place to call home when they arrive.

Food Bank Ministry: Located just a few miles north of the monastery, the Lighthouse Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps impoverished individuals and families with housing, food, employment, and more. Every Friday, you can find several of the Sisters serving breakfast to people who are coming to pick up items at the food bank.  

“Each time I walk into Lighthouse I seem to receive another blessing,” says Benedictine Prioress Sister Karen Brink. “To be on board with many other volunteers encourages us and allows to be part of the bigger picture. Through our efforts there I believe we are the hands of Christ, as we have the privilege of serving our brothers and sisters.”

Greene County Mission: After St. Benedict Academy closed in 1985, Sister Audrey Quinn and Sister Sue Fazzini began the Greene County Mission in 1989.  Greene County, located to the south of Pittsburgh, is one of the two most impoverished counties in Pennsylvania, and the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh reach out to help the residents in various ways. One of the many Greene County programs is called Heart and Sole which provides new tennis shoes for school-age children. They work year-round to collect 300-400 pairs of shoes with the help of several Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese of Pittsburgh and local civic groups.  

In addition to these ministries, the Benedictine Sisters of Pittsburgh also work or volunteer in:

  • Education & After-School Care
  • Social Services
  • Pastoral Ministry
  • Visual Arts
  • Care of the Aged
  • Development
  • Religious Education for children and adults
  • Guidance Counseling/Professional Coaching
  • Addiction Counseling/Prison Ministry
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