Friday, April 12, 2013

We're All Student Sisters

Our sisters' work in Catholic education began in Switzerland with our founding monastery!  The Benedictine Sisters at Maria Rickenbach built their convent on the musenalp mountainside, and in 1864 began a school for girls with the condition to exempt ten places for children in need, even the children of Niederrickenbach (the village below) were taught there.

One of our first works as a new community in America was also education.  Early sisters responded to the call of God and Bishop Martin Marty to teach on the Fort Yates Standing Rock Indian Reservation.  The Swiss sisters from the Alps arrived on those windswept plains as early as the late 1870's to begin this missionary work in the Dakota Territory.

These pictures are now preserved through the State Historical Society of North Dakota
as a part of the Frank B. Fiske Photograph Collection1952. 
Sewing Room Credit:,249
Today, we continue to serve as teachers, professors, principals, and tutors on many levels in Catholic schools and colleges.  Our educational outreach has always stretched across the barriers of distance, language, and culture to support those seeking to learn.  In 1962 the sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery began a new way of supporting education; we invited student sisters from religious communities across the ocean to learn with us.

The first sisters came from South Korea, the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters.  Later the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Benedictine Sisters of Our Lady Help of Christians were joining us from Tanzania, the Daughters of Mary came from Uganda, and the Missionary Benedictine Sisters joined us from throughout their international order.  During the past 50 years, approximately 30 sisters have shared our Benedictine life while attending Mount Marty and nearby colleges.  Their degrees and interests have been varied:  music, nursing, sociology, education, philosophy, and much more.  Each sister seeking to improve not only her own life, but also the ministry and service of her community and native country.

Since beginning this educational ministry, sisters from the monastery have begun to reach out internationally as well.  The prioresses occasionally travel to our Olivetan Benedictine sisters and their Korean community.  Our procurator met with the Benedictine sisters of Our Lady Help of Christians in Tanzania to learn of new ways we could collaborate with their growing community.  Others of our sisters have joined the Alliance for International Monasticism in teaching throughout women's religious communities in Africa.

This sacred time of living in community has been more than offering an opportunity for the student sisters, we've become students and learned much through their generous sharing of traditions.  The Holy Spirit sisters from Tanzania celebrated music and dance with the sisters.  We laughed and danced, but never quite found the rhythm that naturally flowed through their spirit.  Our Olivetan Benedictine sisters have been sharing their traditional Korean foods for years, but it is their exquisite artistry and music that have become the treasured treat.  The stories of their faith and vocation have enriched our own faith and challenged us to keep growing in our Benedictine call to seek God in all things. 


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