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"See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life." (Prol. 20)

Spring/Summer 2012

Bristow Bulletin

Saint Benedict Monastery 9535 Linton Hall Road - Bristow, Virginia 20136 (703) 361-0106 .

Message from the Prioress public life of Jesus – the parables he used to portray the Kingdom of God and the miracles he worked in the lives of ordinary people. There are blessings to be discovered, for sure! The blessing of each and every day that we Benedictine Sisters are especially grateful for is our monastic life which offers us the Word of God proclaimed in our prayer assembly at least three times a day. As we sit and ponder the Word in the company of our sisters, our life-long companions on this journey, we are one with our Risen Savior. Such a blessing in the living of our days!

You’ve got to love Ordinary Time! After 40 days of Lent and 50 days of Easter, we are finally back into Ordinary Time. What a relief! The hoopla is over. We have reminded ourselves once again of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection which enfolds us all of our lives as we are immersed in it every year. Now we get to look at our ordinary days and find the blessing that awaits us in our ordinary living. Saint Benedict encourages us to do this: “Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice that comes from heaven that everyday calls out this charge.” Rule of Benedict, Prologue, vs 9. One of the blessings of Ordinary Time is the fact that the Gospels are all about the

Morning Prayer Gracious and loving God, as we journey the path of Benedict, may we always be mindful of the sacredness of all creation, seeing with the eyes of Christ, seeing You in every person, creature and thing, and recognizing Your Divine Presence, everywhere and at all times. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen. ~ Sister Henry Marie Zimmermann, OSB

Blessings are meant to be shared and you will see in this edition of the Bristow Bulletin the many ways that we both share and receive blessing. BEACON is one beautiful example of hundreds of lives being blessed through the outreach of dedicated staff and many good people who volunteer as tutors and teachers. We are grateful to all of you who are so generous with your time and gifts. You spread ordinary joy that becomes extraordinary in the lives you touch. You bring hope to the struggling. You embody the spirit of the Gospel. May you be blessed and have good summer! Our daily ordinary prayers are with you.

Sister Patricia Anne Driscoll, OSB sings the Suscipe during  her Golden Jubilee on June 2, 2012. 

Golden Jubilee! Our chapel was filled with joy on Saturday, June 2, 2012, as Sister Patricia Anne Driscoll, OSB, celebrated 50 years of consecrated religious life as a Benedictine Sister. Fr. Raymond Studzinski presided at the Eucharistic Liturgy, with Sister Cecilia Dwyer, OSB, prioress receiving the promises. Asked by Sister Cecilia the traditional question: “What do you seek?” Sister Patricia Anne replied: “It is God I seek through Wisdom’s call to conversion, to our life shared simply with love and listening, to our relentless rhythm of prayer, to this place where creation and all persons are held sacred. Yes, with joy I continue to seek God here that I may be life-giving with you as called in Baptism and monastic vow. Yes, it is God.” Then, in the presence of her Sisters, family and friends, Sister Patricia Anne renewed her monastic promises of obedience, stability, and fidelity to the monastic way of life. Sister Patricia Anne currently ministers as a teacher at Linton Hall School, a private tutor, Community Secretary and Archivist. Congratulations, Sister Patricia Anne!

Sister Gisella Chinguile Published Two poems by Sister Gisella Chinguile, OSB have been published in the Marymount University Literary Arts Magazine. Sister Gisella, a Benedictine from Tanzania, has resided with us for the past seven years while she learned English and studied at Marymount. Sister has graduated and will return home to Tanzania. Her poem “The Starving Girl” was the winner of the 2012 Best Literature Award.

The Starving Girl I counted her concertina chest bones protruding as if chiseled by the hand of famine. She looked with glazed pupils seeing only a bun on some unreachable shelf. Her skin was pale and taut like a glove on a doctor’s hand. Her tongue darted in and out like a chameleon’s snatching a confetti of flies. Oh! Child, your stomach is a den of lions roaring day and night.

Words of Wisdom and Love Words are like oyster shells: Many see only their outer hardness But the wise people hold and open them And sometimes find within them hidden pearls. Words are like lightening strokes: Many see only frightening flashing But the wise people pause and wait And hear the echo of their great thunder. Words are like moonflowers by day: Many see only their bunched leafy fists But the wise people linger till after twilight And watch them open, spilling out their sweet fragrance. Words are like high towering waves: Many see only the hurl of their long angry curl But the wise people stand waiting by the white sand And feel the gentle soothing trickle of their spent force. So, Africa, when you say to me In quiet urgency you love me That I must stay and serve your needs I stop and wonder. Perhaps you hold within you Some hidden gleaming pearl, Some future majesty, Some strange sweet fragrance of moonlit nights. I walk along your foam-flecked shores. Your words hold promise And are not empty. I have gained wisdom and shall wait.

On the Literacy Forefront: IT TAKES A VILLAGE fundamental to success in this American society. To this end, the BEACON village offers not only ESOL classes for language learners, but also GED Preparation, Nurse’s Aide Language Preparation, ESOL Professional Level, Conversation, Financial Literacy and Workforce Literacy classes. The needs of the BEACON began as the “child” of individual are the needs of the village, Sister Eileen Heaps, OSB in 1992. and so BEACON is looking forward Understanding that she could not do to incorporating technology into its this great work alone, she enlisted classroom lessons to better address the others to help her. Many stories are st told of Sister Eileen’s amazing ability requirements of 21 century to garner support from all corners; the employers. relationships she established with people from every walk of life The relationships established enabled her vision to blossom into the through the BEACON program award-winning adult literacy program bear fruit far beyond their lifetime. Says Debbie Abbot, BEACON of today. Director: “This past year, three of our learners became proud U.S. citizens At the core of its success are these for the first time, four earned their relationships. Volunteer tutors GED credential and at least 15 establish relationships with their obtained jobs as a result of the students, getting to know them on a personal level, building the foundation workforce literacy lessons.” of trust so necessary for growth. “We have many success stories we Through our students’ relationships with others in their lives, more adults could share; here’s the most seeking language assistance enroll in recent one: One of our ESOL our courses. Through our volunteers’ students, Juana, began taking beginning level classes in relationships in their communities, new men and women join us as tutors 2006. She worked hard in her classes and moved into and benefactors. Through the intermediate then advanced relationships established in the language classes. She also had religious, educational, business, and her third child during this time government arenas by our directors but continued attending class and and board members, BEACON has working hard to improve her been recognized as an exceptionally reading, writing and speaking. vibrant program, garnering awards She was a model student, and financial support. participated in class and took the advice of her tutors on how to From the first 30 students of its improve. By 2010 she was ready to inception to the over 400 students served last year, BEACON has been enter the GED program to prepare for the GED exam. She had excellent steadfast in the belief that literacy is There’s a familiar saying: it takes a village to raise a child. By extension, we can say that about any enterprise. We never really do anything alone; we’ve all had others contribute to our growth in some way. The village is vital!

attendance in that class and with her tutors’ support and encouragement, she took the GED Official Practice Test, which she passed. This allowed her to take the big GED exam for free. Juana registered for the exam, studied hard and passed with flying colors! Juana is an example of how a beginning level ESOL student can progress in our program, improve her language skills and eventually earn her GED. Juana’s success demonstrates the commitment of tutors and students to work together to achieve significant educational goals. Juana can now pursue higher education and enter community college. Her future success is unlimited; her family is proud of her and she’s set an excellent example for her children: hard work and commitment really do pay off.”


VOLUNTEERS – the Heart of the BEACON Relationship Tahnia Thamm with David Baldacci, author 

My name is Tahnia Thamm, and I am the Program Director for BEACON. I interact with our volunteers every day, and it is humbling. Every day I visit the classes at our various sites and see these men and women from the community who dedicate time, effort, and heart to educating fellow community residents. It is invigorating to see learning in action, and since I work the “behind the scenes” aspects at BEACON, I know that the learning is thanks to the dedication of the tutors. I see diverse activities throughout the classes where the students are role playing, practicing key phrases, and creating sentences that they were unable to comprehend just a few months before. As the weeks go by, I watch students and tutors establish relationships. The students show their appreciation by coming to class willing to participate, and the tutors come to class themselves willing to learn from the students and ready to offer their experience and knowledge about navigating the English-speaking United States society. BEACON for Adult Literacy is a prime example of the importance of socially investing in one’s community. BEACON gives an opportunity not only for our students to improve in all aspects of their literacy, but it also provides an opportunity to learn about the different dimensions and dynamics of the community they might not otherwise be aware of. We have students who will always have a lasting impression of the experience they had while working with BEACON tutors. In addition, the BEACON tutors have memorable stories involving the successes of their students. Volunteerism improves the mind and the soul. Volunteering promotes human connection; it promotes fellowship and encourages compassion. As we help others, we help ourselves. If you are interested in investing in your community and learning from others, as well as about yourselves, then consider volunteering for BEACON for Adult Literacy. Your mind will expand and your heart will grow.

Our AmeriCorps Connection My name is Jaclyn Merrills, and I am the AmeriCorps member with BEACON for Adult Literacy. For those not familiar with AmeriCorps, it is a program that was created by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is a federal agency that promotes volunteering and community involvement. People from all different backgrounds from all over the country sign up for AmeriCorps every year and make a pledge to be committed to community service for one year. Since my background was in education, I knew that was where I wanted to spend my year in service, and I was so lucky to be placed with BEACON. I have seen how this program does so much for the people in this community. I have seen students who have come in with their heads down to the ground, not saying a word, now coming to class smiling and greeting people in perfect English! The students are what make this program so great. They come in ready to work hard, and they are my motivation. Imagine going to the doctor’s office, being prescribed medication, and not being able to read the instructions. Think about how it would feel to have your child come home with a note from the teacher, and not be able to understand what it said. Imagine how it would feel if you worked for years to earn your college degree, had a career in a professional job, such as a lawyer or doctor, but then moved to another country where you can’t use your skills simply because of a language barrier. These are situations I see every day while living and serving the community of Prince William County. People are struggling because of their lack of literacy. Here, without a grasp of the English language, you cannot fully succeed in this life. This is why BEACON is in this community and so vital to the success of so many who live here. If you have never considered community service before, I would highly recommend that you give it a chance. Volunteering in the community gives you the chance to see outside of your own life and helps you grow in compassion for others. Editor’s note: Jaclyn is the second AmeriCorps volunteer to partner with BEACON. Sarah Moore completed her year of service last August.

From the Office of Voca on Ministry...    Meet Our Live‐Ins! 

Philonise Keithley, of Chicago, began our Live‐In Program just three weeks ago.  She  is finishing an MA in Pastoral Ministry and doing one unit of CPE [Clinical Pastoral  Educa on] here in the Commonwealth.  Phil, as she is known to friends, is very  passionate about ministry to elders and reverence for diversity.  We are blessed to  have such a joyful, faithful woman in our midst.  Please keep Philonise in your  prayers as she con nues to discern our way of life.    Julia Abdala and Ana Santorini began our  Live‐In Program last  August.  Julia was born in Argen na but  transplanted early to California.  She has made a career of municipal  service to the city of Los Angeles.  Julia loves dance,  prac ces Centering  Prayer and has a deligh ul sense of humor.  Ana Santorini is from  California but lived more recently in Burke, Virginia.  Her background is  in Theology and Spiritual Direc on.  Ana loves family – near and far.   She enjoys crea ng a beau ful environment for prayer, wri ng and  spending  me in good conversa on. 

Julia and Ana 

Newest arrival… 

     Marie Veille e of Richmond began our “Live‐In” Program on June 2nd.  Marie is a  senior  at  Longwood  University  and  a  graduate  of  our  Saint  Gertrude  High  School.   Marie  has  been  Head  Counselor  for  “WONDER  WEEK”  for  three  years.    She  is  a  cer fied lifeguard and really good with a whistle!  Please keep Marie in your prayers  as she discerns our way of life. 


Please keep our Live‐In’s in your prayers as they con nue to discern a  monas c voca on.  If you know a single, Catholic woman over 21 who         might benefit from our Live‐In Program, please encourage her to              contact me at: 703.298.5337 or voca .  Sister Vicki Ix, OSB 

FORMATION NEWS  Currently, the Benedictine Sisters are 33 members strong, including four novices and four scholastics [sisters in First Monastic Profession]. These wonderful women need your prayers as they continue to discern each step of our monastic life. Our Oblates have graciously adopted our women in formation and are already showering them with good wishes and prayers. That encouragement and support is deeply appreciated. The grace to persevere is most important now for the road, Saint Benedict writes, “is bound to be narrow at the outset. But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love [RB Prologue 48-49].” Clockwise from top right: Sister Mary, 2nd year Scholastic; Sister Pat, 1st year Scholastic; Sister Joanna, Novice; Sister Shirley, Novice; Sister Andrea, Novice; Sister Mary Frances, Novice; Sister Kathy, 3rd year Scholastic; Sister Karen Lynn, 3rd year Scholastic

Eight is Enough….. For Now

The Benedictine Oblate “We are so fortunate here in Bristow to have been blessed, and to continue

to be blessed, with so many good men and women in our Oblate program,” says Sister Charlotte Lee, O.S.B., who along with Kathy Frick, Obl.S.B. is the co-director of the Oblates of Saint Benedict Monastery. People from all walks of life are increasingly being drawn to develop a deeper spirituality in their lives, and for some that desire leads to a relationship with a particular Sister Charlotte Lee, OSB  monastery for spiritual support and guidance. A Benedictine Oblate finds in the Rule of St. Benedict a guide for living a balanced, Gospel  centered life.  

Oblates have a rich history within the Church. Father David Turner, O.S.B., of St. Procopius Abbey relates the following brief account: In the early part of the sixth century when St. Benedict wrote his Rule and gathered disciples into small communities called monasteries, parents brought their sons as “oblates,” or gifts of God to the monks. The boy oblates lived the monastic life in much the same fashion as their elders, and many became fullfledged monks as adults. They received an exceptional education in the monastic school, which was one of the few ways one could get a formal education. Professor Patricia Quinn described this educational program in her book Better than the Sons of Kings. In addition to the boy oblates, others also lived near the Benedictine monasteries. These were generally older men who did not wish to be monks, yet had a desire to be connected in some way with the community life. They were also called oblates.

In the course of time, men and women outside the monasteries wanted to be affiliated in some way with the work and prayer of the monks or nuns. But these individuals were married and had family obligations and employment. They lived in the secular world, but offered themselves to God, dedicating their lives to be lived following the guidance of the Rule of St. Benedict. True, the Rule and the teachings of Christ, as found in the Rule, were adapted to family, work, social and civil responsibilities. Still, the oblates tried to do what St. Benedict made so basic in his Rule: to seek God daily. Over the years, as society continued to change and progress, one thing didn't change: the value and wisdom found in Benedict’s Rule. Thousands of oblates worldwide continue to find inspiration and spiritual fulfillment when they follow the treasure of and the guidance in the Rule of St. Benedict. The Benedictine Sisters of Virginia have had oblates for more than 30 years. From a small beginning of seven women and men in 1979, today there are more than 200 active oblates affiliated with Bristow. Three regional groups, called deaneries, are established in Virginia (Bristow, Richmond, and Bedford) and one in Minden, Nevada. These generous men and women share their gifts with the monastery as volunteers and supporters in many capacities, and extend the Benedictine charism of hospitality and commitment to peace wherever they are, to all they meet in their daily lives. To be an Oblate is to embrace a way of life that, through prayer and study, enables one to deepen one’s relationship with God and to share that relationship with others. Oblates John and Juanita Oliver reflect: “Being an Oblate has helped us reassess our priorities. The fellowship of kindred spirits has enriched our lives by providing guidance to make our lives more meaningful. It reminds us of the importance of daily prayer and studying the Scriptures to guide our decisions so that we might attain a peace and harmony that enables us to face our daily trials with greater understanding and with greater patience. It is so easy to become distracted by the many demands in our daily lives that we easily forget that we are not alone. Our discussions as well as reading and becoming familiar with related works by authors whose spiritual path shines light on our own feeble attempts to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Rule of Benedict in our own lives has been a blessing. The support we receive from this fellowship enables us to not only face our daily trials but, also, to put them in perspective.”

“Our Oblates seal their desire to use the Rule of Benedict as a lens for Gospel living by making an oblate profession to our monastery,” says Sister Cecilia Dwyer, O.S.B., prioress. “They become part of the extended family of our community and are a source of strength and vision – a blessing to the Sisters.” For more information on Oblate affiliation with our monastery, please browse their webpage

NADI Benedictine Novices and Directors from St. Gertrude Monastery,  Ridgely, MD; Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Clyde,  MO; Sacred Heart Monastery, Lisle, IL; Mount St. Scholastica  Monastery, Atchison, KS; Monastery Immaculate Conception,  Ferdinand, IN; Mother of God Monastery, Watertown, SD; Queen  of Angels Monastery, Mt. Angel, OR; and St. Benedictine  Monastery, Bristow, VA. 

Our four Novices recently returned from a two week program at St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, Kansas. Each year, the Novices and Director’s Institute (NADI) is held in a different women’s monastery and attended by Benedictine novices from around the country. This year 18 novices and directors enjoyed presentations given by members of the Atchison community on such topics as Lectio Divina, Benedictine women mystics, Benedictine history, monastic hospitality, social justice, conversation, communication and balance of body, mind & spirit. The experience concluded with a retreat entitled Wisdom: The Good Life, given by Sister Mary Irene Nowell, OSB.


Men in Song

PLACE OF PEACE The annual “Irish Celebration of Peace” took place on March 11, 2012. The event helped raise money to support the “Place of Peace”. It showcases the talents of local groups and singers that are steadily gaining popularity in the Northern Virginia, Maryland and DC music circuit. Thanks Scott Volles, Kenny and Teri Wolin, and Paul Tangren for bringing their musical talent to Saint Benedict Monastery. Looking forward to next year’s event!

In January the Manassas Chanticleer Singers gifted the Sisters with a vocal concert a the monastery. The Chanticleers, dressed in period clothing, specialize in the music popular during the mid and late 1800’s. Special thanks to Mrs. Debby Fancher, Obl.S.B. who sings with the group and arranged for this exciting event.

The Sisters were delighted again by the  “Men in Song” choral group from Heritage  Hunt in May.  They performed a variety of  music from familiar standards and patrio c  themes to choral arrangements of  contemporary music.  Our sincere thanks to  Mr. Bob Mechler who sings with the group and  con nues to arrange their visits to us.   

ESTHER DE WAAL Esther de Wall was the featured speaker at  a  gathering  of  Sisters  and  Oblates  in  February.    Esther,  an  interna onally  known  spiritual  writer  and  Benedic ne  Oblate,  shared her reflec ons on Saint Benedict as a  patron saint of the environment. 

The Circle of Love Spring Social took place on April 13, 2012 at the Knights of Columbus hall in Manassas, Virginia. The evening started off with a cocktail hour and live music performed by Scott Voles and Paul Tangren. A delicious dinner followed which was prepared by Dave Riley and his wife Susan and served by the Knights of Columbus and their wives. After dinner, keynote speaker, Sister Cecilia Dwyer, OSB, spoke about the history of the Benedictine Sisters and their ministries. The evening ended with ice-cream served by the Sisters. Beautiful flowers for each of the tables were generously donated by the owner of the Flower Gallery, Doug Burroughs. The Benedictine Sisters would like to thank all who attended the Circle of Love Spring Social and also to those who generously supported this annual event. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!

MAKING A GIFT TO THE SISTERS Pledging — Contributions of $750 or more may be pledged over a 10-month period. Checks — Checks should be made payable to The Benedictine Sisters of Virginia and may be sent to 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA 20136. Office-assisted credit card/debit card — Call 703-361-0106 and you may make a one-time gift or recurring monthly gift using your credit card or debit card. VISA and Mastercard are accepted. Online Giving — You may make a one-time gift or establish recurring monthly gifts via credit card at our secure website: Just click the “Donate Now” button to be taken directly to our donor page. Matching Gifts — Many companies set aside philanthropic dollars to match gifts made by their employees. Check with your employer to determine whether a gift to the Sisters is eligible for a match. Gifts of Stocks or Securities—Federal tax laws allow a charitable deduction for the full market value of the securities on the date of your gift. Planned Giving — You may make a gift to the Sisters through your will, estate plan or other deferred gift such as one through an IRA, retirement fund, life insurance policy or charitable trust. This gives you the opportunity to provide future support for the Sisters while realizing short- and long-term tax benefits.

Spring/Summer 2012  

Bristow Bulletin of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, St Benedict Monastery

Spring/Summer 2012  

Bristow Bulletin of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, St Benedict Monastery