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A publication of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica

Volume 10 Number 2

Winter, 2011–

Bless the work of

Our Hands

•Beloved Wangari •9 Hearts of Gold

From the Prioress Dear Friends of the Mount,

In late August and the first two weeks of September, I traveled to Togo, Ghana, and Benin in West Africa as a guest of the Benedictine sisters and monks that have monasteries in that region. A trip like this reminds me of the similarities of all Benedictine houses with our devotion to common prayer, our attendance at Eucharist, hospitality to all guests and community life. All Benedictines work with their hands, although the Africans support themselves in ways different from us. They create many wood carvings, sew vestments and sell homemade yogurt. They work the land as we do here in the states; they just have different fruits and vegetables and live happily with so much less. Being with women religious leaders from almost 20 different countries was a gift. The hope for the future is tangible as is the comfort in our heritage as monastics for over 1500 years. The contents of this issue of Threshold are vast. We are so blessed to have celebrated the anniversaries of 12 sisters this summer and fall. The family and friends of nine golden jubilarians filled St. Scholastica Chapel the last Sunday in July. Of those nine, many came from large families so we had a wonderful time with the children as well as adults. In October, we opened the month with the silver jubilee celebration for three sisters who made profession in 1986. As I reflected on that occasion, I noted that at the Mount we never tire of jubilee celebrations. Each occasion beckons us to be grateful to God for all of our blessings, particularly the unique gifts of each jubilarian. Within the context of a vespers service, our sisters in Red Plains Spirituality Center in Oklahoma handed over the leadership of their ministries to competent and capable leaders. Having chosen to become members of the Mount community in 2009, the six sisters who remain in Oklahoma are in transition as they plan to leave their family and friends to move here no later than early October 2012.

We are gearing up for our sesquicentennial. We will have more information throughout this year and next spring. Our community will begin preparation for the jubilee year with a week long retreat in June, 2012. We have invited a Benedictine scholar on the Rule of Benedict, Sister Margaret Malone, from Australia to lead us in a week of reflection on the theme of “Blessing.” Please keep us in prayer as we will you. Our formal opening will be on November 11, 2012, our Founders’ Day. The Mount St. Scholastica College class of 1963 has volunteered to prepare and serve dinner for the Mount sisters that day. Our monastic elders and all of the Dooley residents remain our treasured gifts. Last summer photographs of their hands were displayed on the windows at the entrance of the two wings where the sisters reside. The pictures are indications of the hard work and joy that mark the lives of these sisters. For your reassurance, we still pride ourselves on having Dooley Center as a care facility with “no deficiencies,” the highest ranking given to a nursing home. Care for the sick does rank above all else for St. Benedict and for us. Our Night of Dreams was successful once again. We are so blessed with the generosity of our donors and with the presence of so many who give us their time and talent as well as those who contribute financially. So many hands contribute to this event each year, donating auction items, setting up the Expo Center, staffing the tables, and greeting the guests. It is a community evening unlike any other in the year as we “friend raise.” One can never clearly predict what a new year will bring. What is predictable, however, is that you can count on our prayers and our doors being open to welcome guests. May God bless you in 2012 with happiness, peace and hope. Come visit.

S. Anne Shepard, Prioress Winter 2011


Vol. 10, No. 2

Winter, 2011

2 . . . . . . . . . . . . From the Prioress 4-7 . . . . . . . . . . . Golden Jubilarians 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . Silver Jubilarians 9 . . . . . . . . . Red Plains Celebration 10-11 . . . . . . Wangari Maathai Tribute 12-13 . . . . . . . . . . .Night of Dreams 14-15 . . . . . . . . . Work of Our Hands


16-18 . . . . . . . . . . . . . In the News 19 . . . . . . . . .Keeler Center Calendar 20 . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sophia Calendar 21 . . . . . . . . . Development Message 22 . . . . . . . . . S. Anne to West Africa 23 . . . . . . . . . . . Travels to Tanzania 24-25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Obituaries Threshold is a publication of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica for families, friends and benefactors of the sisters. All reproduction rights reserved.


Editor: Barbara Ann Mayer, OSB Design Editor: Megan Bickford Editorial Board: Sisters Mary Blaise Cillessen, OSB, Bridget Dickason, OSB, Paula Howard, OSB. Communications Director: Mary Agnes Patterson, OSB Mount St. Scholastica 801 South Eighth Street Phone: 913-360-6200 Atchison, KS 66002 Fax: 913-360-6190


Visit our website at Contact the editor by e-mail at To subscribe /unsubscribe, contact the circulation manager: Mary Margaret Kean, OSB (

COVER PHOTO: “These hands have seen a lot of work and a lot of prayer.� Sister Ann Zager





“All You Peoples, Clap Your Hands”

Ps. 47

By Judith Sutera, OSB

t was a lar ge and joyful celebr ation

at Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas, as nine Benedictine sisters celebrated the golden jubilee of their profession on July 31. They are a diverse group of individuals and their gifts are many. They came to the monastery from farms and cities, and chose a variety of fields for their work, but all have been faithful and hope-filled in their life of prayer and community.


At the celebration, Sister Anne Shepard, prioress, praised the jubilarians for their decades of dedication, saying, “Our jubilarians have approached their God for nourishment and delighted in God’s rich fare. They have listened so that they would have life. In turn they have been life for us, for all here, for others. For that we are grateful.”

2011 Golden Jubilarians (Back row) Sisters Therese Elias, Mary Margaret Kean, Loretta McGuire, Linda Zahner, Jeannine Neavitt (front) Eleanor Suther, Genevieve Robinson, Martha Schweiger, and Joanne Yankauskis.

Winter 2011



McGUIRE Sister


ister Loretta McGuire has worn many hats in the past 50 years. Her ministries have included nursing, social work, cooking, baking, maintenance, grief counseling, hospice care, and caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s. She began life in rural Barneston, Nebraska, as one of eight children. Her brother recently gave this tribute: “Loretta is living testimony of someone who has carried out her commitment. She has worked with people of all colors, races, cultures, economic status and sexual orientations.” As Loretta reflected, “I have sat at table with all these persons and have felt at home.” Her joyful, generous and loving personality makes others feel at home too. Her volunteer work has included serving in soup kitchens, working in thrift stores, housing battered women, and caring for children while earning her degree in social work at the University of Kansas. One of the children nominated her for the “Kindest Kansas Citian Award.” For the past ten years she served as director of bereavement services with Saint Luke’s Hospice in Kansas City, counseling both the dying and grieving families. She states her philosophy: “We are sojourners here for only a while, and while we are here, it is the life we live that prepares us to meet God face to face. This gift of life is filled with brokenness and goodness, with love and abandonment, with riches and poverty, with friends and foes, with health and illness. But always it must be filled with great thankfulness and hope.” As for her own life, she says, “All I’ve done has transformed me. Both the land and persons have changed me and my image of God.” Sister Loretta now lives at the Mount, where she is director of pastoral care for the residents of Dooley Center.





ducation by Benedictines at St. Joseph’s grade and high schools in Shawnee, Kansas gave Sister Linda her first inkling to become a sister. She entered the community just a few weeks after high school graduation. She taught elementary grades in Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska and was an elementary school principal in St. Joseph, Missouri before moving to Iowa where she was administrator of the Catholic schools of Shelby County. Feeling a call to spiritual ministry, she studied at Creighton University and then combined spiritual direction with a new focus. “My belief in the wholeness of health, manifested in integration of body, mind and spirit led me to further study and to complement my spirituality ministry with massage therapy,” Sister Linda said. “Finding there was still much more to learn about the integrative approach to health, I began studying energy medicine and am now also an Eden Energy Medicine Clinical Practitioner. Jesus most often touched when he healed. I feel I am participating in that healing ministry whether I am listening with my directees and retreatants, touching in massage therapy or working with the client’s energy fields.” She continues the community’s outreach in Iowa as she provides her services from Covenant Monastery in Harlan. Reflecting on her life journey, she says. “I thank God and my community every day for the graces of these fifty-plus years. We have witnessed many changes in our Church and in our personal lives, but the constants are God’s faithful love and the fidelity to the Benedictine way of life in our monastic community.”


Winter 2011


ister Eleanor Suther has never forgotten the environment from which she came. She grew up on a farm near Blaine, Kansas, and has devoted her time and talents to the needs of rural people. Her educational accomplishments, including a doctorate from Catholic University, have enabled her to serve as an elementary teacher in Missouri and Kansas, as a director of religious education in rural parishes of Missouri and Iowa, and as a religious studies instructor at Benedictine College. As consultant for adult faith formation for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and as director of the Institute for Religious Studies at Benedictine College, she provided instruction and resources for those teaching in Catholic schools and religious education programs throughout the area. Her most far-reaching effort was as author of Seasons of Faith, a religious education series based on the Sunday lectionary. There were workbooks for every educational level, including adults, so that families, especially in rural areas where resources are limited, could engage in meaningful religious education in the home through a sharing of Scripture and personal faith. Although designed for rural parishes, the series has been used in many settings. Currently, she is director of Sophia Spirituality Center in Atchison, reaching out to many more spiritual seekers. With fifty years of religious life behind her, Sister Eleanor continues to help enrich peoples’ faith, knowing that it is a gift she has received from others. “I am grateful to my community and my family,” she says, “and to all those with whom I have ministered who have constantly supported me in living the Benedictine way of life.”




ister Martha Schweiger had the unfortunate distinction of celebrating her jubilee in a wheelchair due to an accident shortly before the event. Yet she went bravely on, just as she did for 47 years of teaching primary students. “Growing up on a farm in Lenexa, Kansas, helped me to develop an appreciation for God’s creative beauty, family life, prayer, and working together,” she explains. “I was able to recognize my call to religious life because of these values and the Benedictine Sisters who taught me at Holy Trinity Grade School and St. Joseph High School in Shawnee, Kansas.” She was joined at the monastery shortly thereafter by her sister, Sister Mary Elizabeth. A creative teacher, her influence has gone well beyond her own classrooms. She has served on visiting teams for elementary accreditation and been involved in several special projects. Among these was a Special Friends program and resource book to help children become aware of the gifts and the needs of the aging. Another was a social studies curriculum guide to teach third graders about cultural awareness and peace and justice. Because of her love for beauty and appreciation of nature, she began a tradition of Monarch Butterfly Day, a field trip for her students to study the life cycle of butterflies and to enjoy God’s creation. Since retiring from teaching, Sister Martha has been offering hospitality to retreatants who come to Sophia Center. She also enjoys using her photography talents to capture the beauty of nature and of people’s lives.





ister Therese Elias’s ancestors arrived before the sisters to the Atchison area. In the 1850s, they helped found the first Catholic community, working alongside the newly arrived Benedictine monks to build St. John’s Church in Doniphan, Kansas. “My parents relocated from Doniphan to Atchison so that their seven children might have access to a good education,” she recounts. “Four generations of my family attended the Mount Academy and Maur Hill, and all of my siblings were educated from grade school to college by the Atchison Benedictines. I grew up on a farm, was a member of 4-H, and had hands-on experience in the fields and working with animals. My father ran a large apiary and an orchard which, along with the farm duties, kept our family busy preparing and selling honey and peaches.” Farm life, however, was not her destiny. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theology, she has taught religious education in various ways. From her monastic living group at Guardian Angels parish in Kansas City, she engages in a number of spiritual ministries. Primary among them is directing several groups of lay oblates throughout the Kansas City area and giving retreats. She also offers spiritual direction and gives workshops at Sophia Center, especially in the study of the mystics and in personal spiritual practices such as centering prayer and dream work. An interest in Celtic spirituality has led not only to workshops but also to leading pilgrimages to Ireland and Wales at least once a year.





ister Genevieve Robinson loves history, and is appreciative of the intersections of her history with that of the Mount. She observes, “Hundreds of women have been members of this house, with different backgrounds, but we have all sought God in a life rooted in prayer and lived in community. I have witnessed the meaning of hospitality and service.” Her first mentors from the Mount were sisters who taught her in Kansas City at Lillis High School. “They taught me that being a Benedictine meant seeking God through living the Rule, serving others, and seeing Christ in all, regardless of their standing in society.” Her academic degrees are in history, with her doctoral specialization in social, immigration, and ethnic history. After teaching elementary school, high school and college, she was a professor of history at Rockhurst University where she chaired her division. Currently, she is dean of undergraduate studies at Fontbonne University. Noting the social history of her own life in community, she says, “I have witnessed change in the schedule of the day, transition from Latin to English for the liturgy, from seated service to cafeteria style dining, choices of work, and, yes, clothing that we wear. We did not and do not walk or think in lock step. Instead, we listen to one another respectfully and in prayer we decide the direction to pursue. Together through all of these changes, the members of the community continue to listen with the ear of their heart as they continue to seek God.”


Winter 2011




ister Jeannine Neavitt did not have very far to go geographically to come to Mount St. Scholastica because she was born and raised in Atchison. Her journey, however, covered a distance within her heart as she was not raised Catholic, but in the Methodist faith. Only two years after becoming a Catholic, she knew that she wanted the additional commitment of the monastic life. She taught for a number of years, then earned her master’s degree in educational administration and became an elementary school principal. Moving from smaller children and the academic focus, she became assistant dean of students at Benedictine College. For twelve years, she assisted students with the many non-academic elements of college life. Later work included serving as associate director of Sophia Spirituality Center and associate director of Keeler Women’s Center in Kansas City. In all the work she has done over the past decades, her welcoming smile and attentive presence have shown her joy in life and her appreciation of others. Now she is in a very well-suited ministry as director of hospitality for monastery guests. Her enthusiasm for life is reflected in her observation: “My life has been one lived with great gratitude and joy for the many blessings and abundant love and guidance that I have received over the years. Through our gracious and loving God’s continual call, I have been able to serve others in a variety of ways and truly believe that those I was able to serve taught and gifted me more than I could ever reciprocate.”





t is not so easy to say where Sister Mary Margaret is from. Before coming to the monastery after high school, she had already been baptized in Nebraska, made her first communion in Colorado, been confirmed in South Dakota, and also lived for a time in Oregon, Kansas, and Texas. Perhaps this is why she was attracted to a life of stability, but could also adapt to 35 years of involvement in Catholic elementary education in a variety of settings in Colorado, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. She was a primary teacher, elementary school principal and, for six years, was the education consultant for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. This was followed by experience in higher education at Benedictine College as the assistant registrar. She is now in her twelfth year as the office manager for Mount St. Scholastica’s development office. In addition to the daily tasks of taking care of donations, she is the one who makes all the wheels turn smoothly for the enormous undertaking of the annual Night of Dreams benefit dinner and auction. She is one of two members of her class to have a sister in the community, Sister Chris Kean, who is the youngest in their family and followed her many years later. “I was drawn to the Benedictine way of life not only by the vow of stability, but also by the simplicity of our life,” Sister Mary Margaret said. “Our life of prayer, including the Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharist, has enriched my life.”




ister Joanne Yankauskis is a latecomer to the jubilee class, but a very welcome addition. Renewing her commitment to religious life at Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison would have been hard for her to imagine when she was growing up in Massachusetts. She entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1959 in Waltham, Massachusetts, and taught the primary grades in several schools in eastern Massachusetts before feeling a call to transfer to the Benedictine Sisters of Red Plains Monastery in 1981. During her thirty years in Oklahoma, she was pastoral minister in the Tulsa diocese for nine years and has ministered in the Oklahoma City archdiocese for the past 21 years. She also served as vocation director and retreat director at Red Plains. Her religious journey took another turn when the Red Plains community merged with the monastery of Mount St. Scholastica in 2009. Thus, she has acquired a large and supportive group of “classmates” in time to be part of a jubilee celebration that featured hundreds of well-wishers instead of the small individual celebration she had been expecting. After the merger, Sister Joanne continued in her spirituality work on the staff at Red Plains Spirituality Center in Piedmont, which is now a mission of Mount St. Scholastica. This fall she moved to Atchison, and will soon pick up her spirituality work at Sophia Center. “I thank my family, friends and commuities for supporting and forming me in my vocation of seeking God,” Sister Joanne said.




By Judith Sutera, OSB

Three Mark Silver Jubilee

he Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica joyfully celebrated the 25th anniversary of monastic profession of three of their members on October 2, 2011. In her remarks, Sister Anne Shepard said, “Our three jubilarians have heard God calling in their prayer and in the voices of the young, sick, uneducated and illiterate. They have responded to those voices with care, compassion and integrity. They have served by their generous attentiveness at the Divine Office and their presence in community.” Sister Patricia Seipel is from Maryville, Missouri, and was first inspired to consider religious life by the sisters who taught her in grade school. In her nearly three decades as an educator, she has taught in eight places, and also served for four years as community vocation director. She presently lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and teaches at Visitation School. Sister Patricia likes to paraphrase Cardinal Basil Hume, “My prayer has sent me to the market place; the market place has sent me back to pray.” She says, “My search for God has allowed me to embrace a life of prayer and at the same time live a life of serving God and others through active ministry, mainly that of teaching. Living each day in community has given me opportunities for prayer and for service.” Sister Mary Rardin, a Topeka native, entered the community after finishing medical school, serving three

years as a doctor in the U.S. Navy and completing her family practice residency. Since then, she has continued her work as a physician, including eight years serving the poor and homeless in Leavenworth and Kansas City, 10 years as a faculty physician at University of Kansas Medical Center, and the past five years working in small rural hospitals and clinics in Kansas as a traveling doctor for underserved areas. Reflecting on her twenty-five years, she comments, “I am very grateful to God for calling me to this Benedictine community, for I’ve come to realize how much this community has been Lumen Christi for me, revealing the light of Christ’s love and wisdom to me in our prayer and liturgy, our life together, during the difficult times as well as the good, and helping me see this light in others.” Sister Kathleen Flanagan first encountered the sisters when she came from Denver to Atchison as a Benedictine College student. She has been an elementary teacher and is now a school librarian for the Kansas City Kansas public school system. “Being a member of this Benedictine community has been very life-giving and challenging,” Sister Kathleen said. “I have been blessed to live with a variety of sisters who have each taught me something about being a Benedictine, about myself, and most of all about loving God. I enjoy being an librarian and am grateful for all the educational opportunities I have had.”

Silver jubilarians (left to right): Sisters Kathleen Flanagan, Patricia Seipel, and Mary Rardin.


Winter 2011

Piedmont Sisters Transfer Retreat Ministries to Lay Women A

bout 200 people gathered on Saturday, September 24, 2011, at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church in Oklahoma City. The occasion was a prayer service during which the Benedictine sisters of Mount St. Scholastica serving at Red Plains Spirituality Center (formally Red Plains Monastery), Piedmont, Oklahoma, handed on the ministries of Retreat in Daily Life (RIDL) and the Spiritual Director Formation program to the new formation team consisting of three lay women – Mary Diane Steltenkamp, Joanne Forgue and Kay Britton. Sister Anne Shepard, prioress, welcomed everyone, sharing the sisters’ many years of service to the people of Oklahoma dating back to 1892, when the Benedictine sisters came to Guthrie from Creston, Iowa. The ministries handed on today began in 1983 and 1984 under the direction of Sisters Marie Luecke and Jan Futrell. Thanks were expressed to the many people throughout Oklahoma who have supported and encouraged the

Transition of Ministries at the Epiphany of the Lord Church in Oklahoma City. The Benedictine Sisters of Red Plains Spirituality Center handed their spirituality ministries to three women they trained. Pictured here from the left are: Kay Britton, Joanne Forgue, Mary Diane Steltenkamp Sister Marie Ballmann, Sister Benedicta Boland and Sister Joanne Yankauskis.

sisters during their years of service. Sister Anne asked those present to pray for the sisters during their time of transition and to be sure to come and visit the sisters at the Mount. Mary Diane Steltenkamp offered a reflection on the fruitful ministries of the sisters in the archdiocese these many years and how their presence and ministries deeply touched many lives. She stated that one of her own directees told her, “It was when I stayed at Red Plains Monastery that I became real.” The new formation team, along with many directors and RIDL facilitators, presented the sisters with a framed picture of the “unnamed Manressa woman” by Holly Schapker. According to St. Ignatius’ autobiography, this woman was the only one who touched him deeply enough to change his life spiritually. They explained that the meaning behind this gift expressed the similarities between what Ignatius experienced and what the many people touched by the sisters have felt over the years.

Fr. Stephen Bird, director of the Office of Worship & Spiritual Life for the archdiocese, expressed his gratitude to the sisters and thanked Mary Diane, Joanne, and Kay for taking on the responsibility of these ministries under the umbrella of his office. Archbishop Paul Coakley thanked the sisters for what they have bequeathed to the archdiocese and emphasized that the three women have the support of the archdiocese as they continue what the sisters began. There were mixed emotions throughout the service, with many tears, as the sisters handed over their ministries to others. The sisters know that these ministries are in good hands and that they will continue as long as God desires. The seven sisters now living at Red Plains will gradually leave the plains of Oklahoma for their new home at Mount St. Scholastica over the course of the next year. Although their physical presence will not be in Oklahoma, their spirit will always remain.


A Tribute to Wangari Muta Maathai, Nobel Peace Laureate


angari Muta Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace laureate, passed

away on September 25, 2011. She was a dear friend of the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica and will be deeply missed. Wangari, born in Kenya, left her homeland to study biology at Mount St. Scholastica College. After graduating in 1964, she continued her studies at the University of Pittsburgh and Nairobi University. She was the first woman in central or eastern Africa to hold a Ph.D. In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement, a movement that has planted over 45 million trees in Kenya in an effort to protect the land and provide needed food. She faced whatever needed to be faced. She stood strongly against political injustices and paid the price: house arrest, beatings, and imprisonment. Through it all, she had hope. Always, hope. She could envision a world of greater peace. Wangari’s most recent return to the Mount and Benedictine College was in 2007, when she enlivened her audience with her stories, vision, and challenges. Our Mount community had invited Wangari to speak to us during our upcoming sesquicentennial year. She asked us to suggest a topic. We said, “Wangari, we want to hear some words on HOPE from you; your ability to LIVE in HOPE is admirable. We wonder how you do it so steadily.” Mount St. Scholastica community extends sympathy and prayers to Wangari’s children: Waweru, Wanjira, and Muta, and granddaughter Movement, to all who love Wangari and work for justice and peace, and we extend sympathy, too, to the many, many trees she’s planted.


Winter 2011

–Sister Thomasita Homan, OSB

Photoshop Roadmap

Ruth Wangari. We extend sympathy and support to all in The Green Belt

We thank you, Wangari. You were tall in so many ways. Now you reach eternity. You leave a lasting legacy to the world: your ability to Hope. Your life teaches us to weave hope into any situation, to listen and respond generously to the needs of our planet and its people. Now you know radiant hope!

“Let all the trees of the wood sing for joy� (Ps 96:12)

gDreams O

Photos by Rox Stec


n November 13, 2011, Mount St. Scholastica celebrated its fifteenth annual “Night of Dreams” at the KCI-Expo Center. From California to Washington, D. C. and Texas to Wyoming, a record number of over six hundred dreamers showed up for the event. Spirits were high and everyone enjoyed the Benedictine hospitality. The big dream winners were from two of the Mount’s main ministries. Elizabeth Swift, oblate originally from Good Shepherd parish in Shawnee, Kansas, and former Souljourner of the Sophia Center, won the “Take a Chance on a Dream.” She chose the Week in Ireland for her prize. Martha LaVan, an oblate of the Mount and volunteer at Keeler Women’s Center, won the “Grand Prize Drawing” and chose the Honda Civic for her prize. “My car is twenty years old,” LaVan said when she got the news that she won the drawing. “A new car will enable me to keep volunteering at Keeler Women’s Center. See, Jesus takes care of me.” The evening started with friendly socializing and wandering among the silent auction items, while a video on two big screens updated people about the ministries of the sisters. Sister Anne Shepard led the prayer before a delicious meal and oral auction, led by the Nigro Brothers, was a frenzy of fundraising. The “Fund a Need,” was the top oral auction item. Over $40, 000 was raised to help fund the needs of the sisters in Dooley Center which will be matched by an anonymous donor. The dream was to raise enough money to purchase a blanket warmer, Prime Aire therapy mattresses, touch screen computers, and the technology needed to meet the State Sister Anne Shepard welcomes the attendees to the of Kansas requirements for electronic record keeping. 15th annual Night of Dreams.

Sister Fran Cross calls the guests to dinner with her tom tom.


Winter 2011

Three generations of Bowers look over the car for the raffle: baby Leah, mother Elizabeth Weinmann, and grandmother June Bower.


Come True Toby Tyler, one of the auctioneers, takes a bid during the oral auction.

Mary Anne Didde and Lynette Wheeler make a bid at the silent auction.

Jim and Joyce Cillessen enjoy their first Night of Dreams.

Martin and Aggie Asher, Cathy Murphy and Joe Paolucci enjoy comraderie at the dinner.

A group looks over items at the silent auction.

Schola members (left to right) Sisters Eleanor Suther, Susan Barber, Irene Nowell, Molly Brockwell, Elizabeth Carrillo, and Diana Seago sing an opening song.


“My hands are

“Yet with youout I shall always be; stretched without flagging.”

You have hold of my right hand.”

(Ps. 73)

These hands have been

Cooking Croatian

embroidering since I was

dishes, food with beans

six years old.

and pasta during the

S. Cyprian Vondras

Depression, povitica, strudels ... it’s all good!


a way of honoring the residents in Dooley Center during National Older Americans Month in May, Laurie Kloepper, resident life coordinator in Dooley, embarked on a project of photographing the residents’ hands and getting a quote about what their hands have done. She enlarged the pictures and displayed them with the quotes on the windows around the Dooley Center patio. She got the idea from the “Long-term Care


Winter 2011

Mrs. Helen Krstolic

Improvement Guide” of the Picker Institute on the Internet. “The response from visitors and sisters has been overwhelmingly positive,” Laurie said. “Some asked for copies of a particular sister’s hands. The residents were amazed at the interest.” Something that surprised Laurie was that the residents’ responses were not only about prayer their hands did, but also about ordinary things like cooking and sewing. Also she often heard other sisters say, “I didn’t know that about Sister X.” Of the 46 residents in the Dooley Center 40 are sisters and six are relatives of sisters.

These hands help those in need. S. Loretta Wiesner

These hands worked for the love of God and others. S. Sienna Rohlfer

These hands reach out and receive. They connect with people. They know pain but keep going. They endure no matter the circumstance and just when I think they can’t do any more, God gives me the power to persevere. S. Jan Futrell


In the News Sister Anne Re-elected; New Council Named After a week of discernment in June, Sister Anne Shepard was re-elected for a second term as prioress. A special Mass on July 10 celebrated her reaffirmation. At the Eucharist, Sister Anne challenged the community to “keep soaring to new heights, using our imagination, our intelligence, and our hope‌trusting and risking the unknown.â€? After the Mass, friends and family joined the community for a feastday celebration. Sister Anne appointed Sisters Esther Fangman, Connie Krstolic (new subprioress), and Elaine Fischer to the new council. On Nov. 5, Sisters Joanne Yankauskis, Bridget Dickason, and Marcia Ziska were chosen by the community as the elected members of the monastic council. The council meets monthly with the prioress to advise her on decisions and discuss issues facing the community.

New monastic council (back row): Sisters Bridget Dickason, Joanne Yankauskis, Elaine Fischer, and Marcia Ziska; (front row): Constance Krstolic, Anne Shepard, and Esther Fangman.

Prayer Partners Enrich Each Other

Prayer partners Amanda Wert and Sister Amelia Nowatzke

Seventy-five students from Benedictine College were welcomed to the Mount on September 21, 2011, for the beginning of the 31st year of Partners in Prayer, a program begun by Sister Constance Krstolic in the fall of 1980. Sister Barbara Smith, vocation director, currently directs this special ministry for the college students as a way for them to get better acquainted with the sisters,


Winter 2011

Sister Frances Watson prays Vespers with her three prayer partners from Benedictine College.

learn more about our monastic lives, and to build a prayerful relationship with them throughout their lives. At the close of Vespers on their first official meeting of the year, Sister Anne Shepard, prioress, asked a special blessing on the students and sister prayer-partners. Sister Anne promised prayers of the Mount community for the students not only during this academic year,

but throughout their lifetime. The students who choose to join as a partner in prayer are invited to come on a weekly basis for Vespers and supper or as often as their schedule allows. The prayer partners joined the sisters for a pre-Christmas cookie baking on December 9 in a deliciously creative and fun evening.

Many Hands Bring Fresh Vegetables and Flowers to our Table

Sister Loretta McGuire in the garden where she grew flowers for the golden jubilee tables.

Inspired by the Senate committee exploring healthier food practices, Sister Elaine Fischer and several other sisters decided to enlarge our garden to bring fresher vegetables to our table. They planted sweet corn, potatoes, beans, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, squash, cucumbers, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon, and sweet potatoes. Although squash bugs killed the squash, cantaloupe and watermelon, deer ate some of the beans and tomatoes, and raccoons got some of the corn, the community did enjoy the vegetables that survived. “We didn’t use any pesticides,” Sister Elaine said. “We did put two drops of mineral oil on the silks of each corn stalk to keep out the worms.” “We planted three batches of corn this year. The first one in May, the second the third week of May and the third at the end of June. The first two produced well, but the third was pretty patchy.” The sisters who helped harvest the crops included Sisters Lou Whipple, Barbara Smith, Marcia Ziska, Delores Dolezal, Rosann Eckart, Irmina Miller, and Loretta McGuire. They also planted a fall garden this year with lettuce, spinach, kale, endives, leeks, arugula and turnips. “We built some low tunnel hoop houses to cover the crops in order to extend the growing season,” Sister Elaine said. “We used scrap wood, metal, and cloth to construct them.”

Sisters Mary Grosdidier and Mary Ann Fessler prepare cucumbers for their homemade pickles.

Sisters Chris Kean and Janelle Maes snap fresh grown beans.


In the News Sisters’ Handiwork Wins Prizes Continuing a tradition started in the 1990’s, sixteen sisters of Mount St. Scholastica entered 29 items in the 2011 Atchison County Fair. The results were two Grand Champions (Sisters Mary Kratina and Sharon Holthaus), twelve blue ribbons, eight red ribbons and five white ribbons. Sister Mary Kratina was overwhelmed and thoroughly surprised when she found out she was a Grand Champion winner. “I originally crocheted the doll hat and scarf for the gift shop, but Laurie Kloepper, the activities director at Dooley Center, convinced me to enter it into the fair,” said Sister Mary. “It was an unexpected joy to win and it has already sold in the gift shop.” Along with crocheting the sisters enter items in several different categories including quilting; knitting – large and small items; sewing; embroidery of tea towels; pressed flower craft; wall hanging; watercolor; color photography of nature; flower specimens of roses, marigolds and zinnias; foliage; blooming plant and the biggest category of all – flower arranging. Flower arrangements fell into the following categories: party arrangement, metal container, arrangement under 10”, all one color, exhibitor’s choice and arrangement under 6”.

Sister Mary Kratina

“Catherine of Siena: A Woman of Our Times” Adrian Dominican Sister Nancy Murray performed as St. Catherine of Siena, Sunday evening, October 16, 2011, in the O’MalleyMcAllister Auditorium at Benedictine College. The one-person play entitled Catherine of Siena: A Woman of Our Times was the 15th presentation in the endowed Mary L. Fellin Lecture Series sponsored by the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica to support the liberal arts orientation of Benedictine College from a feminine perspective. Sister Nancy entralled the audience during a two-hour long performance. The series is for students, faculty and staff of Benedictine College, the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, the monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey, and the Atchison community.


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Empowering women in the urban core through education, advocacy, personal and spiritual development… We have no boundaries. All are welcome to attend programs.

Our Holy Women series is offered on the 2nd Thursday of each month, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

February 9 – Nowal el Saadawi, presented by Thomasita Homan, OSB March 8 – Naomi of the Old Testament presented by Irene Nowell, OSB April 12 – Margery Kempe, presented by Mary Collins, OSB May 10 –Dorothy Day, presented by Mary Collins, OSB

A monthly scripture series based on the illuminations of the St. John’s Bible: 3rd Thursday, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Bridget Dickason, OSB, facilitator

February 16 –Call of the Disciples Jn. 1:35-51 March 15 – Transfiguration Mk. 9:2-8 April 19 – Life in Community Acts 4:32-35 May 17 - Creation Gn. 1:1-5, 31-2:3

Lenten Retreat for Women

Lent: A Time to Prepare for Resurrection presented by Bridget Dickason, OSB Wednesday evening, February 29, 2012 Light supper at 6:00 p.m. Retreat 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

2220 Central Ave. Kansas City, Kansas

Check the website at for a complete listing of programs.


Sophia Center Calendar

January-July 2012

January 13-14 Return to the Land of Your Soul Marcia Ziska, OSB Friday, 7:00 p.m. to Saturday, 4:00 p.m.

March 31 Body, Mind and Spirit Linda Zahner, OSB Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

January 25 Give Beauty Back to God Thomasita Homan, OSB Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

April 5-8 Triduum Retreat Staff Thursday, 4:30 p.m. to Sunday, 1:00 p.m.

February 15 A Journal for the Journey Thomasita Homan, OSB Wednesday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

April 17 Lectio Divina Joanne Yankauskis, OSB Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

February 25 Lent and Easter with St. Benedict Judith Sutera, OSB Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

April 27 Alive In God: Celebrating Our Humanness Maureen Conroy, RSM Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

February 28 When Jesus Smiled Sheila Carroll, OSB and Gabrielle Kocour, OSB Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

April 27-29, 2012 Healing Trauma: The Gift of Prayer and Spiritual Direction Maureen Conroy, RSM Friday, 7:00 p.m. to Sunday, 12:30 p.m.

March 9-11 Enneagram Therese Elias, OSB Friday, 7:00 p.m. to Sunday, 4:00 p.m. March 24 Elizabeth of the Trinity: Everyday Mystic: Always Believe in Love Sheila Carroll, OSB Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 31 Why Am I the Way I Am? Esther Fangman, OSB Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Winter 2011

July 12-15 Fri-Sat Oblate Institute Fr. Terrence Kardong, OSB, speaker July 21 Centering Prayer Marie Ballmann, OSB Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 27-28 Toasting the Women On Our Family Tree Mary Kay Whitacre Friday, 7:00 p.m. to Saturday, 3:00 p.m.

Bless the Work of Our Hands In the Psalms we ask God to “bless the work we do, bless the work of our hands.” We are blessed each day and with God’s help we do our manual and mental work to the best of our ability. Did you ever think about all the things we do with our hands each day? I see the amazing flower creations, handmade items, jars of jelly, plates of cookies, bushels of sweet corn and beans from our gardens and curtains covering our windows and they are all work of our sisters’ hands. You help us with the work of your hands also. Many of you volunteer to help with our Night of Dreams. We could Sister Mary Agnes Patterson welcomes Dan and Nancy Mollner from Omaha to our Night of Dreams never put that event together without many extra hands. You help at Sophia Center and Keeler Women’s Center and again these services are possible because of your many hours of volunteer work. Many retired people say, “I don’t know how I ever had time to work.” Because of your generous service, many people are receiving the help they need. We saw many people helping the victims of the floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes, of last year. Every day we know that thrift stores, food pantries, hospitals and free clinics are blessed with generous volunteers that keep things and services going for others. Thanks for the work you do and the work of your hands. Thank you for your support to our community. You are building God’s kingdom here and now.

Mary Agnes Patterson, OSB Director of Development & Communication

The Mount Legacy Society recognizes donors who have remembered the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica as beneficiary of a planned gift. It is a privilege and honor for the sisters to be named as a beneficiary in your gift planning. Thank you for considering such a gift. For information, you are invited to contact: Sister Mary Agnes Patterson, Director of Development and Communication, at 913-360-6215 or The following donors are new to The Mount Legacy Society since our last Threshold. Rev. Leo Buhman+ Muriel E. Jared + Petronella C. Culivan Ann M. Stuever+ Frances Dombrowski+ Helen M. Wack


Sister Anne Travels to West Africa The chief of the village of Zobegan addresses the members of the CIB in English.


the CIB (Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum) representative from the United States, Sister Anne Shepard traveled to West Africa, the region chosen for this year’s meeting. The purpose of CIB is to bring together Benedictine women religious on an international level to promote, support, share ideas, and collaborate with one another. The conference membership consists of 24 abbesses and prioresses elected from nineteen regions of the world. The Benedictine sisters met in Dzogbegan, Togo, for the first part of their two-week visit. “The 33 members of Assumption Monastery greeted us in the spirit of Benedictine hospitality,” Sister Anne said. “Treating guests as Christ was evident in each of the eight monasteries that we visited. Another commonality was manual labor. It was so humbling to watch how the sisters prepare meals and care for the land with very primitive instruments. “The chief of the town hosted a celebration to welcome us. Children danced and sang. Church women danced to the music of tam tams and tambourines. A former English teacher, the tribal chief welcomed us by assuring us that we were now part of the town.”


Winter 2011

Sister Anne was also touched by the simplicity and beauty of the liturgy and of their chapels. She said the sisters chanted the liturgy of the hours in French, accompanied by the twenty-one stringed instrument, the kora, and drums and caxixi rattles. “The Sunday Eucharistic celebrations were lively with more musical instruments and much dancing,” she said. “One Sunday the entire town, it seemed, joined us for Mass. For the first time I understood why the evangelists wrote in the parable ‘there were five thousand men, not including women and children.’ One would be hard put to count the children, although the parents saw that they were well behaved.” The 19 conference members and five members of the CIB staff traveled by minibus to visit monasteries in Togo and Benin and to visit one of many beautiful waterfalls in Ghana. “The roads were so poor that it took five hours to travel one hundred kilometers, which converts to sixty-two miles,” Sister Anne said. “The three times we had to have our bags ready to go by four-thirty in the morning. Morning prayer on the bus was part of our routine. Every trip took much longer than planned. We viewed the poverty of the countryside and the crowded towns. Merchants carried goods on

their heads in the hopes of luring buyers.” Sister Anne found the memorial in Ouidah on the coast of Benin the most meaningful site on the trip. A seven-part pilgrimage on the Atlantic shore, monuments depict the tragedy of the seventeenth century slave trade of over forty million Africans. “We met with Benin’s Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze who told us the Church is planning to build a memorial of reconciliation on the site,” she said. “I was silent for hours after being there.” “It was a great gift to travel with leaders who share the same Benedictine values and many of the same practices,” she said. “The joy was in the people and the prayer.”

Sister Anne Shepard learns to play the agogo, a musical instrument of West Africa, at the farewell party in Togo.

European Pilgrimages Planned European Pilgrimages to our Benedictine roots are being planned for the fall of 2012 and 2013 as part of the community’s Sesquicentennial celebration. A group will be traveling to Rome and several surrounding villages where St. Benedict lived. The pilgrimage will also include traveling to Munich and Eichstatt, the site of St. Walburga’s Abbey, the place from which our Atchison community originated. More details will be forthcoming in the next Threshold. It will be open to oblates and other interested friends of the Mount. For more information, contact Sister Mary Rardin at the Mount, 913-360-6200 or

Mount Sister Aids Tanzanian Benedictines By Suzanne Fitzmaurice, OSB

This summer, I had the opportunity to spend six weeks with a Benedictine community in Tanzania as part of the Alliance for International Monasticism (AIM). During my time there, I spent two weeks teaching classes on the Rule, Psalms, lectio and MeyersBriggs and then spent the rest of the time teaching keyboarding and computers. I taught the classes in English, with a few attempts at Swahili, (and then) translated by the community’s superior. Along with classes, we took several trips to visit various mission houses. Most of these houses were a significant distance from the monastery and required a several hour trip on very rough roads. While the country was very dry, it was also filled with wonderful trees and flowers along the roads. There were beautiful woods and hills along with sandy flat plains and an amazing variety of butterflies. All of the mission houses had several active ministries, which included growing fruits and vegetables, raising chickens, pigs and cows, teaching and running local schools for children, vocational programs in areas such as carpentry and electricity, health care, teaching life skills to local women, owning and running a restaurant and gift shop, and each ministry was designed to meet the specific needs of the people in each area. All of these experiences gave me an opportunity to spend time with a variety of Tanzanian sisters. It was wonderful to see the similarities in our lives – the seeking God, the prayer (I learned to sing along in Swahili), the common table, and the quest for balance. It was also important to see the challenges they face

each day in regard to resources (food, water, electricity, health care), and the challenge of having many sisters enter who still require an education. Yet through each experience, it became clear that together we will continue to seek God, listen with our hearts to where we are being called, and bring God to those we meet each day.

Sister Suzanne Fitzmaurice (second from left) and Sister Cathy Bauer, from Covington, Kentucky, shuck corn with two Tanzanian sisters.


Into your

hands, we commend their spirits ...” Sister Gertrude Greathouse, OSB April 23, 1927 - June 16, 2011


very sister’s life leaves a mark on the community, but some are more public than others. The music composed by Sister Gertrude Greathouse is an integral part of the liturgical life of Mount St. Scholastica. Growing up in Moberly, Missouri, she discovered at an early age that she could easily reproduce whatever music her piano teacher demonstrated. She came to religious life in 1948 and earned a master’s degree in music education. Her early talent had blossomed into a great gift of creativity, whether playing requests at a sing-along or improvising grand recessionals on the massive St. Scholastica Chapel organ. She served as a school music teacher, community liturgist, and organist for the sisters and for parishes. She will be remembered not only in her own monastery but, through her involvement in the Benedictine Musicians of the Americas, in the liturgies of monasteries throughout the nation. Her works included psalm tones, canticles and responses, and the Mass that was sung at her own funeral. She will not be remembered merely for her works, but for a life that was the source of the joy and prayerfulness found in the music. She was one who found beauty in people, the world, and her community and returned praise to God.


Winter 2011

Sister Jeanne Marie Blacet, OSB September 28, 1913 - June 2, 2011


the time of her death, Sister Jeanne Marie was the senior of the monastery, having been professed for nearly 78 years. For all those years, she was the model of an educator. Gifted in the classroom, she became a principal, then the supervisor of teachers for the community’s schools, and later superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. At a time when many would be retiring from work, she took on another very important form of education as director of novices and of those in first profession. She was able to be very serious about these responsibilities, but was at the same time always ready to laugh about life and to entertain with her wit and her flair for performance. She was spontaneous, creative, and supportive throughout her long and rich life. The great teacher is not just someone who passes on information. Benedict insists that one’s actions always speak louder than one’s words. This is what made Sister Jeanne Marie a model educator. She showed everyone what a Benedictine woman should be as well as do.

Sister Bernadette (Mary Ernest) Havlik, OSB December 14, 1923 – September 15, 2011


ister Bernadette Havlik was someone who was deeply rooted. She maintained a lifelong loyalty to her rural roots in Bison, Oklahoma. She returned to those roots regularly because she was also sustained by the love and support of her family. The family was always nourished by its faith and Benedictine spirituality, with Sister Bernadette attending Sacred Heart Academy in Lisle, Illinois, and her brother later serving as abbot of St. Procopius in Lisle. Throughout her 67 years of monastic profession, she was someone who exhibited her rootedness and fidelity to the monastic way of life. As teacher and principal, she served in schools in three states. She was a cheerful and generous community member, who loved and served her sisters in tasks as central as being subprioress for eleven years, to the daily responsibilities of a sacristan, and to the quiet and steady work of quilting. Hers was a life of happiness and peace, whose firm roots and steadfast growth brought forth much fruit.


“These hands have seen a lot of work

and a lot of prayer.” S. Ann Zager

Save the date: Night of Dreams • October 21, 2012 •

801 S. 8th Street Atchison, KS 66002

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Winter 2011

on partially recycled paper PLEASE RECYCLE YOUR MAGAZINE AND BAG

Threshold Magazine  


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