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Mind and Spirit S A I NT B E N E D I C T’S MONA S TERY | Spring 2016

Michaela Hedican, OSB

Recent years have found serve in some of the following ways: our culture placing • Mindfulness of Christ is what has us welcome the guest or a high priority on the the pilgrim not only in Christ’s name but as Christ himself. ability to multitask. The Fifteen hundred years after the Rule was written, this is the busyness of our world and mindset of our ministry at the Spirituality Center and in the constant awareness of Studium. Some scholars come to deepen their understanding deadlines have left many trying of God and hence become more mindful of God’s presence. to do too much with too little time. Fortunately, research And a number of our sisters journey with those who come to had confirmed what many of us have believed all along— the Spirituality Center and desire to become more mindful of multitasking is counterproductive! Multitasking is no longer the presence of God in their lives. seen as a virtue but rather as an impediment to what has • The School of Benedictine Spirituality is also a ministry become a necessity of life—mindfulness. through which we seek to share the wisdom of Benedict as Mindfulness is the ability to be present to what is taking he shows us ways in which to keep a mindfulness of Christ place in the moment before us. Mindfulness workshops, in our lives. One truly learns the mind and spirit of Benedict calendars and books abound as our commercial world takes through this program. advantage of what research has told us. • Staying centered or mindful of Christ is deepened and Benedict does not use the word mindfulness in the Rule enhanced for each one of us through our dedication to but his instructions to us bespeak this attitude. For Benedict, sacred or divine reading. In our Benedictine heritage this is nothing is to be preferred to Christ. Christ is to be the center referred to as lectio divina. You will learn more about lectio of all that is thought or done in the monastery. Mindfulness in this issue of Benedictine Sisters and Friends. of Christ is part of every moment in the monastery. One of the Along with these aspects of our ministry, this issue will tools that Benedict gives us contrasts the world’s way with include other ways in which mindfulness is essential in our ours in the monastery: “The love of Christ must come before life. May these articles assist you in your mindfulness of the all else” (RB 4: 21). As Benedict closes the Rule, he reminds us present moment and in your awareness of God’s presence in of this attitude with the words; “Let them prefer nothing to the “now.” the love of Christ.” (RB 72: 11) This mindfulness is the basis of our ministry as we seek to bring Christ to all those whom we

Benedictine Sisters and Friends Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict Saint Benedict’s Monastery Volume 20 – Number 2, Spring 2016

Karen Rose, OSB, Director, Development/Communications, Editor-in-Chief

Jennifer Morrissette-Hesse, Editor/Graphic Designer Renée Domeier, OSB, Proofreader

Editorial Board Liz Brannan Michael Doyle Mary Lindstrom Teresa Mohs Tom Stock

On the Cover “Reflection,” by Thomas Carey, OSB, oil painting, 1970s.

“… The water, dark blue almost black, is translucent farther out, giving a clear but not entirely matching reflection of the scene. This painting has a mysterious quality. It is abstract yet naturalistic, suggesting exploration of new territory.”

Painting description and photo from Sister Thomas Carey, OSB: The Light Within, copyright 2003, Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn.

Photos: Andra Johnson, Nancy Bauer, OSB, Karen Streveler, OSB, unless otherwise noted or supplied by individual sisters or Saint Benedict’s Monastery Archives Printing: Palmer Printing

ABOVE: Hélène Mercier, OSB, teaches in the School of Benedictine Spirituality at Saint Benedict’s Monastery, which offers support for spiritual growth, guidance for living the Gospel and a community for learning about the dynamic world of the Benedictine way. Classes are varied and ongoing. Visit www.sbm.osb to learn more.


Spirituality Center and Studium: Birth Pangs and Growing Joys 4 – 5 Spiritual Directors 6–7 Mind and Spirit in Partnership 8 Studium: The Beginning 9 A View of Africa through the Lens of Scripture 10 – 11 Lectio Divina 12 Benedictines: Lovers of Learning 13 Mercy in the Garden 16

Benedictine School 17 Briefly 18 For the Birds 19 In Loving Memory: 20 – 21 Madonna Kuebelbeck, OSB; Mary Dominic Eickhoff, OSB; Mary Minette Beutz, OSB; Mary Carmen Cruz, OSB A New Look at In Loving Memory 22 Sisters Behind the Scenes 23


From the Prioress by Michaela Hedican, OSB Blessings Abound by Gen Maiers, OSB



104 Chapel Lane, St. Joseph, MN 56374-0220 |

Benedictine Sisters and Friends is published by the Office of Development and Communications, Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn. The purpose of the magazine is to share the stories of our Benedictine lives and engage our relatives, friends, Oblates and benefactors in the mission and ministries of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict.

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ABOVE: Sister Theresa Schumacher, left, is the Assistant Director of Studium and Sister Mary Weidner, right, is Director of the Spirituality Center. The two ministries have melded programs and are known as The Spirituality Center/Studium



& Friends

Birth Pangs and Growing Joys Theresa Schumacher, OSB


n January of 2015, two major Benedictine ministries of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, the Spirituality Center and Studium, scheduled a three-day retreat with a professional facilitator. The goal was to reflect on the mission and vision of these two programs and to discern how to integrate them into one entity while maintaining what is unique in each. The programs’ staff established a two-year implementation plan with three phases: “Coming Together on Immediate Needs,” “Moving Forward Together” and “Realizing the Dream.” They divided the strategies and actions into eight categories and worked within groups to determine target dates for accomplishing the tasks. First, the participants created a joint mission statement. Adopted in March 2015, it reads:

We, the Spirituality Center and Studium, of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, Minnesota, share the Benedictine monastic tradition by fostering love of learning and desire for God for the sake of the church and the world.

The core of this mission statement, “the love of learning and desire for God,” has echoed through the centuries of monasticism. The monastery’s foremothers inherited this mission and integrated it into their work on American soil. Guests and participants assure us that this core meaning continues to flow through the Spirituality Center and Studium, both of which are housed in Evin Hall.

The Spirituality Center aims to provide both individual and communal responses to the “desire for God,” by offering a variety of opportunities for spiritual renewal. Individual offerings are always available, such as spiritual direction and personal retreats in a hermitage or in the Center. Group offerings include retreats and programs centered on seasonal liturgical themes, prayer and spiritual practices and writing workshops. Topics often focus on current life issues and personal challenges that challenge our Christian grounding in faith, hope and love.

Studium was created to continue the Benedictine dedication of cultivating the mind through intellectual pursuits or, in the words of the mission, “to foster the love of learning.” This rich inheritance was transplanted in Minnesota by the monastery’s foremothers who began, built up and sustained institutions to give glory to God, to uphold human dignity and to prosper learning and the arts in the church and the world. Studium offers support and space for writing, reading, reflecting, illustrating and other intellectual pursuits. One of Studium’s unique benefits has been to take scholars into the center of the life of the community where they can participate in the daily prayer known as the Liturgy of the Hours

Studium Scholar, Michael Maurer, found a place to finish his most recent book, Perfume River Nights, on the monastery grounds in St. Joseph, Minn. He describes the Spirituality Center/Studium as “a place of transitions and connections.”

and the celebration of the Eucharist. Scholars also share meals with the sisters in the monastery dining room. Inevitably, a sister will ask, “What are you working on?” Most scholars appreciate this kind of exchange because they say it gives them a chance to speak about their work, gain new insights and points of view and realize new research possibilities. Sometimes the scholar is energized or propelled into a new, more creative approach.

There are many factors that play into a major reconfiguration of two programs into one. At this time in monastic history, many of the sisters involved in ministry are looking at transitioning out of full-time work. Some critical factors involved in this transition are finding ways to consolidate programs and job descriptions so that ministries may continue in the most effective way. The availability of funding, human resources, building constraints and program promotion are all considerations when engaged in ministry planning for the future.

A great deal has been accomplished since the retreat one year ago. The Spirituality Center/Studium now have one operating budget, a joint advisory group and a common database of participants, retreatants and scholars. In addition, space in Evin Hall is now being used more efficiently and there are integrated environmental services for the building. This integration will continue for both ministries as the hopes and dreams of serving as one entity unfold. The presence and support of old and new friends in cooperation with the Spirit’s movement within and among us provide the door, the key and the threshold to fostering far and wide “the love of learning and desire for God.”

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Josue Behnen, OSB, and Kathryn Casper, OSB

On average, 50 people visit the Spirituality Center each month for the first time or to receive spiritual direction. What are they looking for? Some of their reasons include: gaining a deeper meaning in life, a deeper relationship with God, a sense of inner peace and freedom, to find God during the difficult times of life or to grow in prayer. We asked spiritual directors to explain how people participating in spiritual direction “grow in the wisdom of a listening heart.� Above: Sister Rita Budig, left, engaged in the practice of spiritual direction at the Spirituality Center/Studium



& Friends

What is Spiritual Direction? For Benedictines, the most beloved words of the Rule of Benedict are “Listen with the ear of your heart” (RB: Prologue). After being trained in the art of spiritual direction and continuing in facilitated supervision, spiritual directors and those who come to the Spirituality Center seek to grow in the wisdom of a listening heart that is in service to the church and the world.

Why would you encourage someone to seek spiritual direction?

“I believe it helps one grow in his or her relationship with God and to be aware of God’s inner voice.”

“By sharing one’s struggle, challenges and blessings of everyday life with another who listens without judgment, a person is more able to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit in her/ his life.” “We all find ourselves unfocused at times and by participating in spiritual direction, we can speak truthfully to a companion who listens without judgment.”

How did you become a spiritual director?

“I received spiritual direction during a retreat and realized how helpful it was. After years of workshops and formation in spiritual direction I received certification at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, Calif.” “I was invited to do so by Prioress Michaela Hedican. After formation at Saint John’s School of Theology, I now understand the importance of listening to another’s story. I pray before and after each session.”

“I was invited to the Spiritual Direction Program offered at the Spiritually Center. I consider being a spiritual companion a gift where I can hold another’s sacred life in confidence and love.”

“After receiving certification in spiritual direction, I was invited to serve as a companion with a variety of women and men. Time and time again, I am awed how the Holy Spirit works in each person’s life.”

What do you do to renew yourself as a spiritual director?

“As a spiritual director I belong to a peer supervision group, where I receive helpful feedback and consultation with other directors. I attend in-service days for spiritual directors.”

“Currently I am in a supervision class out of San Francisco, Calif. This program assists me in the work of spiritual direction as well as supervisor. Prayer, silence, reading and conversation with other spiritual directors all contribute to growing awareness in the art of spiritual direction.”

What have you learned from those with whom you companion? “These men and women teach me the strength of vulnerability, the grace of brokenness and the healing in honesty. I have learned to be open to others and to listen more honestly to myself.”

“I have learned to listen with more compassion to the stories of others, and to allow enough silence between us for the Holy Spirit to work in each of us. I learn so much about myself. The journey of growth in the spiritual life is a process that spans all stages of our life journey.”

If you are interested in learning more about spiritual direction, call Sister Josue Behnen at (320) 363 -7179. Please note that no one is ever turned away because of finances.

the We are grateful to who responded spiritual directors d to all to the questions an the ministry who participate in n: of spiritual directio

e Behnen, , Clara Antony, Josu Sisters Eunice Antony Burr, Casper, Georganne Rita Budig, Kathryn , Feeney, Joan Felling Renée Domeier, Ruth eck, elb ky, Mary Rachel Kueb r, Mary Catherine Holic he ac Rose, Theresa Schum Hélène Mercier, Lisa lay directors, Mary Weidner and te Ritger Ka , Patricia Giesen n and Becky Va Ness

“I see my own spiritual director faithfully and pay attention to my own inner journey, as well as maintain a balanced life.” Spring 2016 | 7

Mind and Spirit in Partnership: Benedictine Collaboration for Spiritual Direction Becky Van Ness, OblSB

THE SPIRITUALITY CENTER AT SAINT BENEDICT’S MONASTERY has long been a resource for those who desire individual spiritual direction. In addition, several cohorts of students completed an “Internship in Spiritual Direction” under the expert guidance of Sister Kathryn Casper and Sister Josue Behnen at the Center beginning in the late 1990s. Some students from Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary took part in the program.

The School of Theology recognized the benefits of making this training more readily available to students. In 2012, Dean Bill Cahoy contacted S. Kathryn and S. Josue, hoping to create a collaborative program. The School of Theology would offer a theological foundation through academic coursework and the sisters would provide mentoring in the art and skills of spiritual direction. One of the Saint Benedict’s Monastery oblates (lay women and men who are committed to live out the Rule of Benedict in the world), Becky Van Ness, came on board as consultant to draft the program and facilitate a working agreement between the monastery and the university. Both partners supported the endeavor enthusiastically, leading to the program launch in the fall of 2013. The first cohort graduated in July 2015. Student evaluations of the program included: “The experience of doing direction and writing the reflection papers was powerful and transformative.” and “[The program is] experiential, thought-provoking and transformative.”

The program content for the second student cohort has been refined, and four Benedictine themes are now woven into the coursework and practicum: 1. Lectio on Life: Lectio divina (prayerful reading of Scripture) prepares us to approach our lived experience contemplatively and to listen for our own sacred story as we practice lectio on life. 2. Hospitality: The practice of hospitality opens us to receive God in unexpected ways as we welcome others as Christ.

3. Stability: Yielding to God’s presence in daily life and the practice of “staying with” (stability), rather than escaping our experiences, frees us to be fully alive in the here-and-now.

4. Conversion of Life: Accepting that we are called to continual conversion (conversatio morum) increases our desire to listen for God’s on-going call and to be faithful to the life to which we are called.

A free booklet is available relating these themes to the theological assumptions of spiritual direction. If you would like a copy, please email Becky Van Ness at or call her at (320) 363-3559. You may view the booklet online by visiting the School of Theology Web site:

ABOVE: Director of the Spiritual Direction program at Saint John’s School of Theology, Becky Van Ness, OblSB, and Director of the Spirituality Center/Studium, Sister Mary Weidner

ABOVE: A batik of Hildegard of Bingen by Judith Goetemann hangs on the walls of Evin Hall, the building that currently houses the Spirituality Center/Studium, and is a symbol of dedication to the Benedictine value that is the love of learning

Studium: The Beginning Dolores Super, OSB

STUDIUM WAS ENVISIONED IN 1992. It resulted from brainstorming on how the untapped wisdom and experience of our sisters, especially our older sisters, could further our mission of service to others into the future. The Benedictine value of love of learning shaped the idea for a supportive learning community. Sister researchers, writers, editors, consultants and presenters formed such a community, and named it "Studium." In 1994, I was appointed its first director and remained in the positon until 2008. With close proximity of offices for Studium members and a commitment to a monthly meeting, opportunities abounded for collaboration, for critiquing works and for encouraging one another. From its first year, the fruit of Studium members’ work (about 15 sisters yearly) included publications, such as books and articles on women’s monasticism, spirituality and parish histories; consultations on topics including liturgy and financial concerns for religious women’s communities; editing manuscripts; and presentations, locally, nationally and abroad on many topics, including aspects of our monastery’s history and heritage.

An integral part of Studium from its beginning has been a residence program for guest scholars, providing a quiet place for work—researching, writing, editing—and a solace in knowing that others were doing likewise nearby. Scholars joined the monastic community for meals, and if desired, common prayer. During its first ten years, Studium hosted 92 residencies with scholars from 27 states and four foreign countries. Many, both religious and lay, were faculty on sabbaticals from universities and colleges, and from Protestant seminaries. Others were independent writers and artists.

Without any planning, questions and conversation between sisters and scholars at meals provided a measure of “lifelong learning” for both. Sisters listened and responded to aspects of the scholars’ work. For example, a sister from Makurdi, Nigeria, working on the history of her religious community, gave sisters a new insight into “mission”, which for her African community included giving witness to persons from various tribes—they had sisters from nine tribes—living together peaceably. For another, a faculty member from a university in Ohio, it was sharing ideas for a revision of a theology textbook. Toward the end of his stay, the scholar remarked that experiences made their way as “themes and insights” into his revision. In 2016, Studium continues to honor scholarship as a sacred ministry through the creative work of sister members and visiting scholars. Many persons, near and far, continue to benefit from their work.

Dolores Super, OSB, first director of Studium

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Joanne Thibault, Studium Scholar


od has truly blessed me with an ear that is inclined to listen for where in the world he wants me to be. When I was looking ahead to early retirement, the call to devote myself to being a full-time volunteer came through loud and clear. In January 2012 I found myself transported to Africa, eagerly responding to God’s will that I should serve with the international medical charity, Mercy Ships. Through my roles as a writer of patient stories, and as the engineering administrator whose tasks included helping our

I spent over three years volunteering on board the Africa Mercy. This is the hospital ship operated by Mercy Ships that provides free medical care to the poorest of the poor in Africa.

local crew, I learned, experienced and observed a great deal about life in each of the four African nations where the Africa Mercy served—Togo, Guinea, Republic of Congo and Madagascar.

prevalent due to the lack of medical care, seemed to have taught them how to remain joyful. I contrasted this emotional healthiness with the far less life-giving but more common response to suffering in societies of plenty: despair, negativity and anger—often directed at God.

Recognizing what I felt was a great gift that African people are able to accept, also alerted me to the fact that everything I experienced, observed and learned in Africa was also complex and paradoxical (to my way of thinking). To do any of my learning “takeaways” justice, it was essential that I not rush to put words to paper, but instead, to be extremely slow and cautious about coming to conclusions. My conclusions had to withstand some benchmark for authenticity. A concurrent development in my own spiritual growth presented me with the path to find the authentic expression for all that I had garnered in Africa. A deep thirst to consume Scripture seized me in the midst of my Africa Mercy service and intensified as I looked ahead to returning to my North American home. I began to hunt for a place where I could immerse myself in a self-directed study of Scripture. And as I contemplated and envisioned glorious hours steeped in Scripture, it came to me that Scripture may also be where I could find expression for my time in Africa. My ear was immediately inclined to this notion. God had spoken.

My understanding and awareness of the stark differences between Western world “haves” and Africa’s “have nots” grew at a rapid pace. Real life stories of hardship, struggle and calamity, especially those arising from untreated medical conditions, were shared with me through translators who quickly became my guides and friends.

Despite my safe and secure residential perch on a modern hospital ship, my roles and friendships took me into the streets and villages where many good people, regardless of their trials, taught me about being joyful and kind in the midst of physical and/or economic pain.

The peaceful co-mingling of suffering and joy in day-to-day life, which allowed good humor and joviality to prevail, was such a contrast to my developed world experience. The attitude, to me, seemed to say, “Suffering takes so much away from me already, I’m not going to let it take my joy away too.”

The way that the people of Africa whom I met reconciled suffering and joy demonstrated, to me, a significant spiritual maturity. The sheer volume of their suffering, made so extremely

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Photos courtesy of Joanne Thibault and the St. Cloud Visitor

The place I found was ideal for my quest. The Studium Program, offered by Saint Benedict’s Monastery, welcomed me for my 83 days of residential study, putting generous faith in my passionate but inexact assertion that I could find expression for my time in Africa through intensive Scripture study.

The daily Liturgy of the Hours and Eucharist provided a cornucopia of Scripture and an abundance of parallels completely reminiscent of what I had learned, experienced and observed in Africa. Tethered to Scripture, my expressions felt like they were on solid ground. For example, I felt a great kinship with Psalm 88, which reflects the same depth of despair and grasp of death that is visited upon so many in Africa.

In Scripture I even found expression for my own cautiousness about how I spoke of my time in Africa. “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye" (Matthew 7:5). The setting, supports and surroundings at Studium indeed allowed me to remove the log of hasty and ill-founded judgment. Instead, steeped in prayer and infused with the Holy Spirit, I was able to pour forth expressions, plumbed from the great wisdom of Scripture, that did the beautiful people of Africa justice. Spring 2016 | 11

“ … Monastics should have specified periods for manual labor, as well as for prayerful reading (lectio divina).”

Hélène Mercier, OSB

Rule of Benedict, Ch. 48, 1


ectio divina as St. Benedict envisioned it 1,500 years ago, was to be a personal practice that, in addition to Liturgy of the Hours, would provide daily nourishment for his monks. Today, lectio divina as a personal practice continues to be the sustenance par excellence for growing in the knowledge and love of Christ. Through the daily reading of Scripture the deepest longings of one’s heart are brought forth and expressed to God. St. Benedict insisted that all his monks learn to read no matter what their status in society was before their arrival at the monastery. To offset the scarcity of books, monks, in addition to learning to read, memorized texts of the Bible.

For a variety of reasons the practice of lectio divina fell into disuse as a personal practice from the Middle Ages until the Second Vatican Council. “Lectio divina failed to lead the faithful in the pews to the deeper spiritual meaning of Scripture and its transformative power.” (Maria Tasto, The Trasnforming Power of Lectio Divina, p. 8). Monastics, invited by the Council to return to their sources, reclaimed the tradition of

lectio divina. Then like the iconic phoenix, lectio divina as practiced in Benedict’s time was resurrected. Since the late 1960s the practice of doing lectio became a sine qua non for women and men living the professed monastic life.

As modern people, the practice of lectio is quite challenging and it may take a monastic many years before he or she is comfortable with the practice. Most of us read quickly each day from several sources in order to learn or gather information: newspapers, magazines, online news, books, documents related to our work, novels, etc. Yet by its very nature, the reading of Scripture for lectio divina is done slowly and deliberately, pausing when a word or phrase strikes us, letting it sink in. Lectio is meant to be transformative rather than informative. To set all other priorities aside and take 20–30 minutes each day to read, reflect, respond and rest in the Word of God takes discipline and commitment in our desire to let that Word transform our hearts little by little, day by day. Lectio divina is all about listening with the ear of our heart.

Yet by its very nature, the reading of Scripture for lectio divina is done slowly and deliberately, pausing when a word or phrase strikes us, letting it sink in.

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Benedictines: Lovers of Learning Katherine Kraft, OSB

A Benedictine monastery without a library is unthinkable.


anuscripts, books and libraries have been an integral and vital part of Benedictine life from its beginning in the sixth century to the present. Benedict called the monastery a “school” in which a minimum of two to three hours daily were spent in reading and study with extended reading time on Sundays. We are familiar with images of Benedictine monastics copying manuscripts, engaged in research, study and teaching. Emerging from this long monastic tradition of the love of learning, Saint Benedict’s Monastery library has evolved into a collection of 13,000 volumes plus electronic media, journals, magazines and newspapers. For 30 years, the monastery library was excellently managed and developed under the direction of Sister Paula Reiten, librarian. She increased library holdings, moved the former library to its present, more spacious location and added computers and other electronic media. While the library collection focuses on resources devoted to monasticism, Benedictina, scripture, theology, liturgy, church history, spirituality and Catholicism, it includes fiction, biography, memoir, poetry, history, psychology, the fine arts and other literary genres. Networked computers provide access to the Internet and to the extensive resources of the libraries at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. A significant number of books from Saint Bede Monastery, Eau Claire, Wis., were added to the collection in 2011 following the merging of our two communities. Regularly, college faculty/staff and friends of the sisters donate books, mostly fiction and biographies—these contributions are greatly appreciated.

Today, Sister Denise Braegelman is the cataloger for both the monastery library and Saint Scholastica Convent library. More than 1,000 books have been added to that collection located in the Ramsey-Kaproth Wellness Center. Maryjude Hoeffel regularly volunteers as a library aide. Both libraries operate on an honor system and are open 24 hours every day of the year. The sisters are avid readers, and frequently recommend authors, books and media for the library. St. Hugh, a 12th century Carthusian monk, said it well when he wrote:

“When we are at peace, books are our treasure and delight; When we are hungry, they are our food; When we are sick, they are our remedy. Books are a resource which no one can afford to neglect.”

ABOVE and LEFT: Monastery Library Director, Sister Katherine Kraft, right, and cataloger, Sister Denise Braegelman

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Gen Maiers, OSB


’ve borrowed some words from St. Paul to sum up what I’d like to say to you: “I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you because of your partnership for the Gospel” (Philippians 1:3-5).

This is a bitter-sweet time for me as I write my last article for Benedictine Sisters and Friends. I have retired after 20½ years from my position in development. This was a good time! I had a high learning curve, understanding what philanthropy and development are. The bonus was getting to know so many of you! Getting to know you, building new relationships and strengthening “old” ones (friend-raising) was a highlight! Your faith in our mission and ministries is inspiring, and your friendship and support made my work satisfying. I have deep gratitude in my heart.

You made my ministry meaningful and worthwhile. You touched the lives of others and actually changed lives through our various ministries. Here are a few of the ways in which your financial support helped to make Benedictine values tangible: • Renovating the Main Building

• Building the Wellness Center at Saint Scholastica Convent

• Supporting good stewardship through the Common Ground Garden

• Supporting women in church ministry through the Sophia Program

is a time to meet you and to say thanks. Each year we are delighted to have 600–700 of you come to spend the afternoon. On that day, the Mother Benedicta Riepp award is given to a person for living Benedictine/Gospel values. You live out these values too. As you can see, I am leaving the Development Office with many “sweet” memories. What also makes this “sweet” is that Sister Karen Rose is eager, happy and competent to serve as director. She will do a great job in this role, assisted by a great staff and a wonderful prioress. I am confident that Sister Karen is counting on your outstanding support.

In this Year of Mercy I’d like to close with a quote from Pope Francis’ homily on March 17, 2013:

“A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient. … This mercy is beautiful.”

• Passing on Benedictine values through support of our Girls, God and Good Times (3G) summer camps and the Benedictine Women Service Corps (BWSC) • Enhancing our liturgies through repairs and energy savings in Sacred Heart Chapel

You have let us into your lives! You share your heartaches, worries, sicknesses, faith struggles and family issues. Repeatedly, we hear the significance of your prayer day. Your prayers are inclusive, too, as you ask us to join you in praying for refugees, immigrants, peace and forgiveness. You have also been a part of our lives! You celebrate the Eucharist, pray Liturgy of the Hours with us. Gratitude Day 14


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Together, let’s continue to find ways to make this a more merciful world. Thank you!

Sesquicenntennial celebration, 2007

With long-time colleague and friend, Sister Olivia Forster (l)

Visiting with one of her many friends

Gratitude Day 2012 with Benedicta Riepp Award recipient, Irene Pundsak

Speaking to the congregation in Sacred Heart Chapel

Sister Gen is a big supporter of Habitat for Humanity and has volunteered many hours to the organization

Sister Gen is a true Benedictine and embraces the call for Ora et Labora

Sister Gen celebrates her 6oth Jubilee in 2013

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Sunrise over the barn, home of the Common Ground Garden at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. Photo courtesy of Lorie Wuolu

Kate Ritger, OblSB, Common Ground Garden Production Manager


he Common Ground Garden is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) garden founded by the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict in 1993. This farming model, with roots in Japan and Europe, is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and supporters. Members make a financial pledge and promise to contribute time and personal skills to the farm. They receive a weekly share of fresh vegetables throughout the growing season and develop a relationship with the farmer, the land and other members.

Gardens are about growing food and are intrinsically about feeding the hungry, the first “Work of Mercy” noted in Chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew. The CSA model and our Benedictine mission is to feed the hungry by focusing on hospitality and relationships. We have relationships with our members, work share participants, (members who can work to reduce the cost of their garden share), clients at the St. Joseph 16


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Food Shelf and those who participate in Joe Town Table, a free monthly community meal in St. Joseph.

This year we will also build relationships with those who utilize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). SNAP garden members will be able to use their benefits to purchase a CSA share. We look forward to the personal skills and friendship they will bring to the garden community.

Whether you live in St. Joe or many miles away, whether it’s early February or the middle of the harvest season, we encourage you to find ways to deepen relationships with the farmers, land, food and neighbors around you. Nourish your bodies, care for the earth and when in St. Joe, stop by and visit us.

Kerry O’Reilly, OSB


good policy for living is, “if you are onto something good, share it!” That’s what we sisters are doing and it even has a name— the School of Benedictine Spirituality. We know it is a good thing because we are living it, Benedictine monastic life, that is. The values of this spirituality are so livable—community and hospitality and prayer. Other values like obedience and humility and

stability seem reserved to religious life, but really when you understand their meaning you see how each fits in anyone’s life. That learning would be part of the course, Living Benedictine Value. When you consider that this Benedictine

We know it is a good thing because we are living it, Benedictine monastic life, that is. The values of this spirituality are so livable— community and hospitality and prayer. way has been around more than 1,500 years, doesn’t it make you think that there must be a secret worth knowing here? What do 21st century women in Stearns County, Minn., have in common with sixth century Benedict of Nursia in Italy? An insight into that offers an insight into the longevity of the Benedictine way. The History and Spirituality of the Benedictine Tradition course introduces us to the secret. Ora et labora. Prayer and work. That is the Benedictine motto. It is simple and to the point. There are many ways to pray and Prayer and Worship in the Benedictine Tradition will look at public and sacramental ways of praying, while the course called Lectio Divina refers to a more individual and personal way of praying. You come away using words like lectio and Liturgy of the Hours (LOH) and the Rule freely and with meaning!

We are onto something good—come and share it! For information, email

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Women’s Benedictine monasteries in the U.S. are organized into three federations. Saint Benedict’s Monastery is part of the Federation of Saint Benedict. We are honored to announce that, in November last year, Sister Kerry O’Reilly was elected President of the Federation of Saint Benedict to serve a term of six years. Congratulations, S. Kerry!

Farewell …

Sister Lois Wedl is known to many and it’s certain you’ll want to wish her well for the future. At the beginning of February, she retired as Director of Vocations. However, if you know S. Lois, you won’t be surprised to learn that she will still have a multitude of things she’ll be involved with, including maintaining her position as the College of Saint Benedict’s Number One Blazers fan—matches just wouldn’t be complete without her. S. Lois will also continue her prayer ministry and take on a new role as Secretary-Treasurer to the Federation of Saint Benedict.

… And Welcome

Our new Director of Vocations is Sister Lisa Rose. She will work with Sister Stephanie Mongeon, ambassador to the College of Saint Benedict, and Sister Lisa Kittock who heads the Girls, God and Good Times (3G) summer camps. S. Lisa Rose describes the team as being “Currently under construction, but looking forward to the challenge.” The team-in-process would certainly appreciate your prayers as they work to spread the Benedictine message and help women to discern whether they have a monastic vocation. If you have a daughter now in grades 4–8 who would like to attend our 3G camp this summer, contact S. Lisa Kittock at or (320) 363-7114 or check our Web site



& Friends

Special Birthday September 11, 2015, was a very special day at Saint Scholastica Convent when Sister Helenette Baltes celebrated her 100th birthday. Her life as a sister has been a rich one. She made her monastic profession at Saint Benedict’s Monastery but, in 1948, moved to Eau Claire, Wis., as one of the founding members of the Saint Bede Priory. Life came full circle when, in 2010, the Saint Bede community merged back with Saint Benedict’s Monastery.

This year, 2016, is set to be another special year because S. Helenette will celebrate the 80th anniversary of her monastic profession. You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about her 100 years of life and 80 years of monastic life this summer when you’ll receive the first issue of a new publication devoted to sisters celebrating a jubilee or other milestone in monastic life. S. Helenette shown above left, with Sister Tammy Shoemaker.

CNAs! Work with Us!

Saint Scholastica Convent in St. Cloud is where our recuperating, sick and elderly sisters reside. It’s a peaceful, caring environment and we’re blessed to have dedicated lay staff working there who care for our sisters. If you’re a Certified Nursing Assistant and are interested in a position at Saint Scholastica Convent, contact Linda McDunn, Director of Human Resources, to talk about opportunities. Call (320) 251-2225, or email or find out more at our Web site

Margaret Mandernach, OSB


aiting in the breakfast line, I heard someone announce, “A bird just hit the large window.” I looked out the window and saw this beautiful, uncommon, full-plumaged, injured scarlet tanager on the ground. I rushed outside, knelt down and cupped my hand over its beautiful red and black body without touching it, yet close enough to feel the heat of its tiny body.

Words flowed from my mouth: “What a beauty you are. How could you know that a window was here? I know you’re in shock from the blow and falling onto these rocks. You will make it. I’m here to help you make it. God made you so beautiful and God wants you to live. It’s OK to sit here awhile until you feel better.” Soon it turned its head to look at me from one eye. What was it telling me? “I’ll be all right … Thank you”. Our lives had CONNECTED. It began to fluff its feathers and flew a few inches off the rocks onto a low bush a few feet away. I went into the dining room to get a small dish of water for it to drink. Watching this episode from inside, a sister confirmed my hope by saying, “If it could fly that little bit, it will make it.”

Many sisters had been watching what happened from their places in the dining room. For many of them, this was the first scarlet tanager they had seen. In a short time, the bird flew from the bush up into a big tree. I jumped for joy, and we all clapped.

What a graced moment! Did God remind me that resurrection can happen every day in various ways? One sister said, “Do you

know that God used your hands to restore life to one of God’s beautiful creatures?”

Many thoughts came to me that evening while reflecting in my journal on this experience. It confirmed for me my belief that there is only ONE LIFE, ONE LOVE, ONE ENERGY … namely, God. All creation shares in that one life, one love, one energy in varying degrees and at various levels—from plant life to humans. If we destroy life at any level, we destroy some portion of life, love and energy in our universe.

It confirmed for me my belief that there is only ONE LIFE, ONE LOVE, ONE ENERGY … namely, God. All creation shares in that one life, one love, one energy in varying degrees and at various levels—from plant life to humans.

Spring 2016 | 19

Madonna (Goretti) Kuebelbeck, OSB

Mary Dominic (Loretta) Eickhoff, OSB

Kerry O’Reilly, OSB

Rita Kunkel, OSB, and Georganne Burr, OSB



January 13, 1932 – September 3, 2015

igure skater, political activist, nurse, pioneer—words that each tell a part of Sister Madonna Kuebelbeck’s story. Growing up in St. Paul, Minn., Madonna knew at the age of nine she wanted to be a nurse; she met the Benedictines at the St. Cloud School of Nursing and one year later knew she wanted to be a Benedictine!

Healthcare was truly her avocation and she was a great innovator. For example, as the first clinical nurse specialist in the Mental Health Unit at St. Cloud Hospital she developed programs to launch this service. Understanding that chemical addiction was different from mental illness, S. Madonna developed separate units for chemical dependency and for adolescents suffering from addiction, enabling them to have their own treatment program.

Hard work and creative thinking required a relaxing outlet; for Madonna it was figure skating. Asked if she was good, her response was, “Darn good!”

S. Madonna was also the force behind a mission to the people of Recife, Brazil. She developed a lifelong friendship with Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop of Recife/Olinda. At a time when working in Brazil was politically tense for the Church, he appointed her coordinator of healthcare for the archdiocese.

Thank you, S. Madonna, for sharing your creativity and pioneering spirit and for your willingness to initiate something new when needed.

In 1989, S. Madonna (shown far right) served in Recife, Brazil, along with Sisters Mary Schumer, Kerry O'Reilly and Jean Schwartz



& Friends

November 17, 1919 – September 14, 2015

ister Mary Dominic (Loretta) was the third of seven children, five girls and two boys. From high school days onwards, Loretta sensed a call to religious life but “put it off." After high school she spent three years studying nursing at St. Alexius Hospital in Bismarck, N.D., completing the program in 1943. After working another year at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., she entered Saint Benedict’s Monastery, where her elder sister, Sister Hildebrand, was already finally professed and her younger sister, Sister Keith, had just made first monastic profession.

S. Mary Dominic’s nursing career was spent at St. Cloud Hospital. Her focus was maternal/child health. She enjoyed working with mothers and was known as a good teacher who expected her students to do their best and be conscientious. S. Mary Dominic also had an interest in therapeutic massage and, in 1985, she became certified as a massage therapist; she used her skills for the benefit of many, including our sisters. Dedicated to praying the rosary and the Liturgy of the Hours, her fidelity to prayer was an inspiration. She was a faithful community member, willing to help whenever possible. A woman of few words, S. Mary Dominic was quiet, gentle and caring, with a smile that expressed her interest and love toward others.

Having then, brethren, asked the Lord who it is that shall dwell in the Lord’s tabernacle, we have heard what the Lord commands to those who wish to dwell there; and if we fulfill those commands, we shall be

heirs of the kingdom of heaven. —Prologue, Rule of St. Benedict Mary Minette Beutz, OSB February 5, 1922 – October 15, 2015

Renée Domeier, OSB


er prayer journals—bequeathed to me before she died—help me pray, weep and wonder how eternal life is being lived by our Sister Mary Minette Beutz and her Spouse for whom she longed, whether in her classroom, the chapel, or her community living! She was a mystic in our midst! It was abundantly clear to me that, “Death has a way of tearing off the veil that keeps the shining beauty of a faithful Christian hidden from our eyes.”

S. Mary Minette was complex in many ways and she was astoundingly simple in her loyalties. She was little—in size and manner, voice and self-confidence—but she was so big in desire and influence, in love and sacrifice, in suffering and closeness to Jesus. Those who knew her well attest to the truth of what her name suggests: she was “a little bridge builder” helping them cross chasms and dangerous places to get to the other side! Her gift of prayer, wisdom and imaging are well known by those who love her! She easily saw the underside of reality, whether a dewdrop on grass, a caterpillar-becomebutterfly, a small child longing for acceptance, or a dancing sanctuary lamp ready to give its whole life to God.

I wonder about eternal life because of her!

Mary Carmen (Maria) Cruz, OSB March 2, 1930 – October 25, 2015

Anne Malerich, OSB


o work with the poor in Brazil was Sister Mary Carmen’s first priority. Since that was not possible, then with the poor wherever they might be. She found them at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud where she worked for some years letter-writing for prisoners and assisted at worship services with them.

Born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, S. Mary Carmen, at age 24, entered the monastery at Benet Lake, Wis. In 1967 she asked to transfer to Saint Benedict’s Monastery because we had a mission in Puerto Rico. She recalled how Mother Henrita Osendorf came to her when she was working in the infirmary to tell her, with a big hug, that the sisters had unanimously voted to accept her. S. Mary Carmen realized her dream and was able to spend about eight years serving with our sisters in Puerto Rico.

Sewing was her forte, something she enjoyed and did well, even as a young girl. However, prayer was S. Mary Carmen’s main interest and she felt blessed to be part of our prayerful community. We feel blessed to have known you, too, S. Mary Carmen, because of your cheerfulness, prayerfulness and dedication. We thank God for bringing you to us. Now may you rejoice forever in heaven with the Lord whom you loved.

Karen Rose, OSB, Editor-in-Chief


t has been our custom to include In Loving Memory tributes to our recently deceased sisters in the magazine which is published immediately after a sister’s death. However, it often doesn’t seem possible to do full justice to a sister’s life in the space that is available. We have, therefore, made the decision to publish a yearly tribute magazine which will contain the memorials of the sisters who have died in the previous year. In keeping with the Church’s tradition, the year will run from November 1 to October 31 of the following year.

In this issue you will find tributes to four sisters who died before November 1, 2015. To date, nine other sisters have also made the sacred transition to a new life: Cathel (Frances) Sefkow, OSB November 29, 1915 – November 14, 2015 Rita (Johnelle) Marschall, OSB January 23, 1933 – November 20, 2015 Marie (Alphonsetta) Brang, OSB July 14, 1917 – November 24, 2015

Laurent (Doris May) Trombley, OSB May 31, 1920 – November 25, 2015

Romaine (LaVera) Theisen, OSB February 9, 1922 – November 25, 2015 Alard (Bernadette) Zimmer, OSB February 5, 1923 – December 1, 2015

Theodora (Agnes Catherine) Nelson, OSB September 30, 1920 – January 4, 2016 Elizabeth (Zachary) Roufs, OSB September 11, 1931 – February 5, 2016 Gretchen (Celestine) Jumbeck, OSB February 7, 1935 – February 18, 2016

It is these sisters who will be among the first to be remembered in our new publication which we will mail late 2016/early 2017. Meanwhile, we ask you to hold them, and all our deceased sisters, in prayer.

Memorial Service Invitation

We will be holding a memorial service for deceased sisters on Saturday, May 21, 2016. Special remembrance will be made of sisters who have died in the previous two years. If you are a family member or close friend of a deceased sister, we warmly invite you to join us for this service.

10 – 10:30 a.m. Refreshments in the Gathering Place 10:30 – 11:20 a.m. Visit sisters’ graves in the monastery cemetery and browse archival material related to sisters being specially remembered 11:30 a.m. Eucharist for deceased sisters in Sacred Heart Chapel


If you would like to attend, please contact Sister Barbara Kort at or (320) 363-8922. Additional information will be posted on our Web site at closer to the date.


& Friends

Right, Sister Janine Mettling and the Schola lead the congregation in prayerful song

The Schola at Saint Benedict’s Monastery: “It’s Jennifer Morrissette-Hesse

THE SCHOLA AT SAINT BENEDICT’S MONASTERY works very hard to enrich the liturgies and feast day celebrations of those who worship in Sacred Heart Chapel. The work of this particular ministry is to engage with the congregation and bring about a transformative and meaningful worship experience—a joyful and prayerful moment of being in the presence of God through song.

Schola cantorum is the official expression for what is known as “the Schola” at the monastery. These Latin words refer to the choir or body of singers that leads the congregation in the responsorial psalms and communion hymns at the celebration of the liturgy—particularly at the celebration of the Eucharist. The Schola, however, usually does not play a role in the daily prayers of the sisters, known as the Liturgy of the Hours (LOH) in the monastic space of prayer called the Oratory. During LOH in the Oratory, cantors—who are often also part of the Schola—are individuals who lead the group in prayerful song.

Sister Janine Mettling, current director of the Schola at Saint Benedict’s Monastery, says the sisters who are involved in this liturgical ministry put forth a great deal of effort generally and, especially, for liturgical celebrations such as the Eucharist on Christmas Eve. Typically, the sisters rehearse for about 45 minutes every Thursday evening. On Sunday mornings, the Schola continues their weekly rehearsal for an additional 30

a Joyful Thing.”

to 45 minutes right before the celebration of the Eucharist. During Christmastime, however, two additional practices are added to the weekly rehearsals.

Beyond putting in significant rehearsal hours, S. Janine reports that the Schola really works to sing well; the group regularly critiques themselves to achieve their best sound and strives to not only serve as a sort of “embellishment” during worship, but to inspire full congregational participation in the liturgy. S. Janine says she always asks, “Are we embodying the music, or are we just being functional?” She explains that when the Schola succeeds in leading the congregation to a transcendent moment—the “coming together” place where time ceases to exist and the Holy Spirit is found in the here and now among all who are celebrating—then the Schola has fully realized its role. S. Janine describes it this way: “When [the singing] is really all coming together, there are certain moments where it feels like there’s no time. And we’re in the middle of a song, and it just feels like we are experiencing whatever is happening in that song right at that moment. So whatever the words are, those words are what we’re [focusing on], and when that happens—and it’s very rare—we all KNOW it.” S. Janine says this is where the Schola can lead the congregation to a special place of beauty, joy and transcendence in liturgical worship.

Spring 2016 | 23

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Dorothy Hebert

“I have always had a soft spot for the sisters at Saint Benedict's Monastery.”

This was Dorothy Hebert’s first response when asked why she had a planned gift with the sisters. “I went to the College of Saint Benedict when most of the teachers were sisters. I have very fond memories. I realize how much they influenced me and prepared me for life in the broader world. I volunteer at Saint Scholastica Convent and enjoy getting to know these sisters in new ways. I see the needs and am pleased I can make a difference into the future. I have no immediate family to be concerned about, so this is an opportunity to contribute even after I am gone. This is why I have made the sisters one Photo courtesy of Dorothy Hebert of the beneficiaries in my will.” For information about a charitable gift annuity or other planned gift to Saint Benedict’s Monastery, contact Patricia Ruether, OSB, (320) 363 -7053 | |

Benedictine Sisters and Friends, Spring Summer 2016  
Benedictine Sisters and Friends, Spring Summer 2016  

Published by the Office of Mission Advancement, Saint Benedict's Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn. The purpose of Benedictine Sisters and Friends...