Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore, MD

What’s in a Name?

…For the Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore of Emmanuel Monastery,

there’s tradition, community, ministry, identity and prophecy.

First and foremost though, there is an experience of God who is always with us and a commitment to help others know of this loving God, Emmanuel!

It seems fitting for Emmanuel Monastery to be writing this article for the December Federation Newsletter.  This is the season of Emmanuel, God’s promise to be with us, always. Even though our foundation as a monastery goes back to 1971, this name was not chosen- or had not chosen us- until 1978, when we sought independent membership in the Federation of St. Scholastica.  As a group, we had spent many hours, and had a number of discussions attempting to come up with a name that seemed to fit, and we got nowhere.  We were “down to the wire.”   We needed a name if we were to be an independent monastery.  During a break in our discussions one weekend, we were conversing with the parents of one of our sisters who happened to be staying with us at the time.  They pointed to the bible in the guest area which just happened to be opened to Isaiah’s prophesy of a child to be born who was to be named Emmanuel! (Isaiah 7:14)  This is how we wrote about that “coincidence” years later in a community newsletter from 1990.

 

Names are significant. They give us identity and help us to know who we are. They also help to identify us to others. Very often, names shape who we become…. As the community regathered to prayerfully reflect on a suitable name for our home and our community, we realized that our beginnings had the markings of an Exodus experience – being called by God to go forth into an unknown promised land. We were a pilgrim people on a journey. It seemed so appropriate that we should identify ourselves by our communal experience of God: Emmanuel, God With Us!  In that choice of name, we were telling ourselves and others who God had been for us. Perhaps we were not as aware at the time that God was also telling us who we were to become for others.

As we reflected together on our critical junctures in preparation for the Federation Chapter this past June, we realized even more, that when we as a community faced those critical times in discerning and faithful ways, our God, Emmanuel, was so present to us, constantly shaping us in trust and hope. We actually had “become” Emmanuel, a presence of God always with us! What a humbling and amazing, grace-filled realization!

 

Each year, on December 23rd as we pray the O Antiphon, “O Emmanuel…” we celebrate our community feast…who we are and who we have become.  We gather in the darkened library, before an unlit fire in the fireplace.  As we welcome the coming of light in the physical world at the winter solstice, we pray for the Light to come into our hearts and the heart of the community.  The kindling for the fire is our individual prayer…slips of paper where we write those things within us that need to be handed over to the Light who is Emmanuel.   We bless the fire and process into the chapel carrying that light as we light the Advent Candles and begin our Evening Prayer.  

Both our Vision Weaving and our Mission Statement end with the prayer that we might be Emmanuel in our world. That prayer took on “flesh” in a very real way during Christmas week of 2010. We were blessed to experience our own “Christmas Story” (which many of you know) when Sara, a young pregnant woman seeking asylum was in need of housing. She, her son Amin born on January 6, 2011, and now her husband, Mohsin, reunited 3 years ago, and their daughter, Sakina who just turned 2, are a steady part of our lives.  AWE (Asylee Women Enterprise) which came from this experience and in collaboration with other communities of women religious, is now an independent outreach helping hundreds of women, children and families as they seek safety for their lives. We have become connected to our Muslim brothers and sisters in this geographic area and have both shared and experienced the gift of hospitality and we continue to collaborate with other communities and outreach opportunities as we welcome the stranger into our midst. It is not unusual to find one of our oblates or sisters tutoring our Afghan friends in the English language and/or preparation for GED exams in our library or dining room on any given morning.

Programs offered at the monastery now include many of our oblates as presenters and co-facilitators. Some programs are co-sponsored with other groups in the Baltimore area.  All offer opportunities to explore and experience the gifts of Benedictine Spirituality.  Art, music, poetry, the Rule of Benedict and its values are incorporated in all offerings. Our geographic proximity to Washington, DC has led us to offer prayer services here at the monastery when large marches addressing social concerns are being held. This offers those who cannot physically be part of such events, a way to participate, and can draw numbers in excess of 60 people on a Saturday morning. Some of our sisters regularly participate in the Prayer Walks in Baltimore City inaugurated by Bishop Denis Madden. We regularly host a poetry group; various gatherings of ministers, staffs and personnel from surrounding churches and religious communities; offer opportunities for days of prayer and private or directed retreats and, as Benedict quotes in his Rule, “the monastery is never without guests.”

 

 All of the above, and a deepening commitment to social justice and peace are part of our DNA. Hospitality is undoubtedly the gift we share and the gift that has been so nurtured through the blessing our name, Emmanuel.

 

May the blessing of Emmanuel, our God always with us,

be yours in this Advent/Christmas season, and all your days.

St. Walburga Monastery, Elizabeth, NJ

Celebrating 150 Years!

The first Benedictine women in America arrived in the United States in 1852 from Saint Walburg's Convent in Eichstatt, Bavaria and settled in Saint Mary's Pennsylvania.  A house was opened in Newark, NJ, in 1857.  Seven years later the Reverend Henry Lemke, Pastor of Saint Michael's Parish in Elizabeth, requested and received sisters of the Newark community to teach the predominantly German children of Saint Michael's.  On September 29, 1864, three Benedictine Sisters, the first sisters of any community to live in the city of Elizabeth, New Jersey, began classes for 72 children.

In 1868, the Elizabeth sisters became an independent community with Sister Walburga Hock as their first prioress. A year later the new community moved from Saint Michael's parish to a new Saint Walburga Convent built by Father Lemke on Magnolia Avenue. In 1923 the community moved to its present site on North Broad Street and is now known as The Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth at Saint Walburga Monastery.

St. Walburga Monastery Community photo at the Opening Mass St. Walburga Monastery Community photo at the Opening Mass

To celebrate our 150th anniversary year, we opened on November 19, 2017 with a Mass and special dinner joined by our Benedictine Sisters from Baltimore and Ridgely, MD, Bristow, VA and Erie, PA.

 

In February Benedictine monks from three NJ houses and other local clergy joined us for Vespers and Dinner.  February also provided prayer and a brunch for our employees and a Lenten Reflection by our Archbishop, Cardinal Joseph Tobin.  In March we invited our Oblates and Academy Advisory Board for Vespers and dinner and in April we celebrated with our former Sisters.

 

 In May we traveled to New York to celebrate with our two mission houses there.  Women religious from other congregations joined us for the Feast of St. Benedict in July and over a hundred visitors came for an Open House in October.  A special Remembrance Ceremony was held on the Feast of All Saints for our deceased sisters.  As the year concludes on November 19, 2018, family and friends-like-family will join us for our closing Mass and a festive dinner.  It has been a full and fruitful year to remember!

Guests from opening Mass on November 19, 2017 Guests from opening Mass on November 19, 2017, including Benedictine Sisters from Baltimore, Ridgley, Erie and Bristow
Opening Mass celebration Opening Mass celebration
From the Vespers and dinner with Benedictine monks and clergy From the Vespers and dinner with Benedictine monks and clergy
Celebration in New York

Mission and Ministry                 

The work of the Sisters expanded and changed from its original mission to German immigrants. At various points in our 150 year history the community has had mission houses in New Jersey, New York, Washington, DC, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Ecuador. At present our community ministers within New York and New Jersey.

Benedictine Center for Spirituality

Benedictine Center for Spirituality offers an oasis in the city.  It is a place to be apart, to enjoy the peace of a monastic atmosphere and the warmth of Benedictine community at Saint Walburga Monastery. Through the Center we hope to share the spiritual resources of the monastery with those seeking a deeper relationship with God. The Center invites others to join in the listening to God through retreats, spiritual direction, daily Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours with the sisters.

Benedictine Academy

Benedictine Academy, a Catholic college preparatory high school in Elizabeth, New Jersey, founded by the Benedictine Sisters, educates young women to be responsible leaders of the 21st century.  Focusing on academic growth and character formation in the Benedictine tradition, the Academy challenges students to become life-long learners who are intellectually curious, rooted in the gospel and committed to justice and integrity.

 

Benedictine Preschool

Combining Catholic values with their belief in the necessity for quality preschool education, the Benedictine Sisters established the Benedictine Preschool in 1996.

Benedictine Preschool promotes, expects and encourages kindness and love, respect, integrity and service to others. It strives to develop well-rounded students by encouraging the cognitive, social, physical and spiritual growth of every child, through a process oriented, developmentally appropriate program.  It is a state licensed preschool, awarded 4 stars through the state’s quality rating improvement system, Grow NJ Kids. 

Oblates

At St. Walburga Monastery, Oblates meet once a month.  Meetings are open to anyone. Those who make the commitment of Oblation formalize their intention to live the Gospel values found in the Rule, and they share in the spiritual life of the community.  Oblates do not live in the monastery or make vows, but are encouraged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and to reflect and pray with Scripture daily.  Some Oblates may join the community in praying the Liturgy of the Hours or in working on some particular project.  It is especially important for each to discover the application of Benedict’s teaching in his or her own life. The meetings include both conferences and time for discussion so that Oblates may share their experience of applying the Rule to life outside the monastery.

Sacred Heart Monastery, Cullman, AL

Cullman Benedictines offering hospitality to four Benedictine gatherings in 2018

2018 Federation Chapter Group Photo 2018 Federation Chapter Group Photo

So far this year, the Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center has provided housing, meals and gathering space for the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses (CBP) and the Federation Chapter.  In January, the Cullman community welcomed forty Prioresses of Benedictine monasteries from throughout North America.  Sr. Tonette Sperando, Prioress and a member of the CBP Coordinating Committee, played a major role in planning the event that took place with a grand Mardi Gras flair. 

 

In June the General Chapter of the Federation of St. Scholastica, which had sixty participants, congregated at the retreat center in Cullman.  Sr. Lynn Marie McKenzie, President of the Federation and member of the Cullman community,
chaired the meeting and was re-elected for another four-year term of service. The week-long gathering concluded with a special banquet featuring Umbrian fare in
honor of the Italian homeland of St. Scholastica. Images of St. Scholastica
greeted participants all along the passageway to the dining room and several statues of Scholastica were prominent features of the dining room décor.

 

In addition to these two large gatherings, the community hosted the Federation of St. Scholastica Council in April and the Executive Committee of the North American Association of Benedictine Oblate Directors (NAABOD) in May.

Conference of Benedictine Prioresses Group Photo Conference of Benedictine Prioresses Group Photo

Benedictine Manor closes after 35 years of service

The former college dormitory known as Janeway Hall, was renovated and became Benedictine Manor in 1983. The former college dormitory known as Janeway Hall, was renovated and became Benedictine Manor in 1983.

Thirty-five years ago, an unexpected ministry came to birth on our monastery grounds Benedictine Manor. At that time, the Sisters had learned of the need in our area for independent living options for seniors and decided to bring such a ministry to life in one of our newly-empty college dorms.


During these years, many changes have taken place in residential options available to seniors. While these shifts are positive, it has meant that fewer people are seeking the independent living option provided by Benedictine Manor, and over the past several years the need for this ministry has decreased substantially. After careful analysis of all available information,thorough exploration of all options,and much prayer and discernment,the Sisters made the difficult decision to close the Manor before the current realities affect the level of service we can provide to our residents. Now, the blessing that has been Benedictine Manor will continue in other ways as the remaining residents take the blessing with them to their new places of residence, and those who have been blessed to serve at the Manor share the fruit of that blessing in new ways.

 

An interview with Sister Tonette about Benedictine Manor may be found in the latest issue of Benedictine Update. See link below.

Sister Michelle St. Marie makes her perpetual monastic profession

Sister Michelle St. Marie signs her profession document on the altar with Sister Tonette Sperando (r), Prioress, and Sister Mary McGehee (l), Scholastic Director, looking on Sister Michelle St. Marie signs her profession document on the altar with Sister Tonette Sperando (r), Prioress, and Sister Mary McGehee (l), Scholastic Director, looking on

The Eucharistic Celebration, during which the Rite of Perpetual Monastic Profession was celebrated, was held at Sacred Heart Monastery Chapel on Saturday, July 7, 2018. Rev. John O'Donnell, O.S.B. presided over the Eucharistic Celebration and offered the homily. Sister Tonette Sperando, O.S.B., Prioress of the monastic community, led the Rite of Perpetual Monastic Profession, received Sister Michelle’s vows, and offered a reflection on this important step in the life of every monastic.  Joining the monastic community for the celebration were Sister Michelle Renee’s sisters, Paulette Haynes and Annie Scarborough, along with their families, as well as Oblates and friends.

 

To read more of this article, click on the link to the Benedictine Update below.

These stories and more inside the summer issue of Benedictine Update

Other articles published in this issue of Benedictine Update include:

     25th Jubilee celebration of Sister Kathleen-Christa

     Sister Lynn Marie's trip to South Africa

     Sister Margaret Mary Liang's work with the community in Colony, AL

     Death of Sister Margaret Frederick

     Activities of pecan industry volunteers

Summer 2018 Benedictine Update
SummerBenUpdate2018final.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [2.0 MB]

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

St. Lucy's Priory, Glendora, CA

Mission Statement

We, the Sisters of St. Lucy’s Priory, are a Benedictine community of prayer, work and hospitality. We continue to embrace, expand and share our consciousness of God through our corporate educational commitment and ministries.

Anniversary Celebration

We are celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Mall Villa which became St. Lucy’s Priory in 1952.  A local citrus pioneer, William B. Glidden, founder of the Glendora Heights Orange and Lemon Association, built the house described in the real estate brochure as “this extremely picturesque 5 1/3 acre estate.”

 

The Priory’s age is definitely showing in some respects as the repairs and refurbishing demands seem never-ending.  At the same time the classic Italian Renaissance design and natural beauty of the property has made it a very special home.

 

 

The main sponsored ministry of the community has been St. Lucy’s Priory High School since it was established in 1962.  The school recently completed the transition to solar power.  The monitoring equipment was installed in the science wing to allow student observation of the energy conversion process. 

St. Lucy's Priory High School 

 

 

 

The faculty have introduced students to the Benedictine Hallmarks, developed by the American Benedictine Colleges, in a variety of ways including art projects.

(additional information at stlucys.com

Blue Mountain Court Retreat House

A newer ministry is the Blue Mountain Court Retreat House in Grand Terrace (Riverside) coordinated by Sister Joan Marie Sasse. Sister Joanie facilitates weekend retreats as well as evening prayer groups during the week.  Unique to this property is an 80-foot handicapped accessible labyrinth available to retreat participants and the public. 

Benedictine Guild Ash Wednesday Retreat

From the beginning of the community there has been a Benedictine Guild, women who came together in support of the community.  One of the Guild’s traditional events is an Ash Wednesday retreat.  This year’s theme was Our Purpose in Life is to Shine LIGHT in Dark Places and was attended by approximately 130 women.

Founding member passes away

Sister Collette Smith, O.S.B.

 

The oldest community member, Sister Colette Smith, (95) died December 29, 2017.  S. Colette was one of the original Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison volunteers who came to San Diego to help staff newly established parish schools in this newly established diocese.  S. Colette arrived in California in 1948 and stayed to become a founding member of St. Lucy’s in 1956.  

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