*** If you have missed previous Featured Member postings or would like to revisit them, go to the Featured Member Archives page.
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."
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Federation of St. Scholastica
916 Convent Rd NE,
Cullman, AL 35055
CIB Resources- Bulletins