Monday, December 29, 2014

The Christmas Season Continues: A Christmas Memory


The recent Yankton Benedictines newsletter shared stories from our Sisters' Christmases past...

Sr. Wilma remembers that Christmases were much simpler in those days as she lived through the end of the Depression during WWII and professed monastic poverty. Christmas was celebrated with a nice meal, extra fruit, and candy. The novices would draw names and make a little gift for that sister. When Sr. Wilma was out "on mission," that is, teaching in a parochial school away from Yankton, the Sisters usually stayed there during Christmas vacation. The parents of their students would bring the sisters practical gifts - like a farmer who brought them a nice ham. The Sisters might also draw names and make gifts for one another.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Benedictine Study


As the new year approaches, we begin to consider our lives.  Resolutions are considered and chosen to help us grow, to improve our lives in one way or another.

This new year, resolve to grow in understanding of the Order of Saint Benedict.  Benedictine Men and Women of Courage: Roots and History would be a wonderful way to learn about the development of the Benedictine Order from the earliest centuries to today.

Our Sister Ann Kessler has revised her text which helps readers "explore fifteen centuries of intrigue, controversy, commitment and inspiration...This fast-paced book surveys the vast landscape of saints, scholars, mystics, and reformers whose impact continues to offer insight not only into the past, but into the future" (Lean Scholar Press).

Brother Benet Tvedten, OSB commented that her text is "An appealing and unique history of the Order of St. Benedict becuase it is an account of both male and female Benedictines. Sister Ann Kessler tells the whole story and she does it very well."  You can read what Brother Benet and others have seen in the story of courage at Lean Scholars Press.

Curious about this fifteen-hundred-year story?  Lean Scholar Press offers an overview of the contents of the text.

Blessings and Happy Studying!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day at the Monastery


On this Christmas Day, we offer you our prayers and blessings and invite you to take a 'virtual tour' of our monastery chapel decorated for the Christmas celebrations.  The poinsettias and greenery remind us the celebrating begins on Christmas Eve and continues through the Baptism of Our Lord.

A Christmas Blessing and Call to Prayer


This morning Pope Francis proclaimed his Christmas Message and Urbi et Orbi blessing to thousands of pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.  It carries an important message of our brothers and sisters in need of our love and prayer...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

T'was the day before Christmas Eve...


Following our monastic tradition, the sisters don't begin to decorate for Christmas in their personal spaces and common rooms until after the "O Antiphons" have begun.  However, we don't decorate the refectory, Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel, or main hallways until the day before Christmas Eve. The flurry of work is made light (and a bit fun) with many helpful hands...

Wondering how it could all be done in one afternoon?  CLICK HERE!

Christmas Eve Blessings to you,

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

O Emmanuel

The banner was designed by
the Benedictine Sisters
of Turvey Abbey and

O Antiphon...
O Emmanuel,
our holy King
and giver of the Law,
the expectation of the nations,
their longed for
Redeemer and Savior:
O come, come soon to save us,
our Lord GOD-WITH-US!

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel"

"Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.  When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. 
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us." (Matthew 1: 18-23)

Monday, December 22, 2014

O King of Nations

The banner was designed by
the Benedictine Sisters
of Turvey Abbey and
O Antiphon...
O King of Nations,
you for whom
all lands are longing,
you are the holy cornerstone
who binds together
all God's people:
O come, come and save humankind whom you formed
from the dust of the earth.

"Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: See, I am laying a stone in Zion, a stone that has been tested, a precious cornerstone as a sure foundation; whoever puts faith in it will not waver" (Isaiah 28: 16).

"Open the gates of righteousness; I will enter and thank the LORDThis is the LORD’s own gate, through it the righteous enter. I thank you for you answered me; you have been my savior.  
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad. LORD, grant salvation! LORD, grant good fortune!"
 (Psalms 118: 19-25)

Christmas Season Liturgies

We invite you to join us in prayer throughout the Christmas Season...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

O Rising Sun

The banner was designed by
the Benedictine Sisters
of Turvey Abbey and
O Antiphon...
O Rising Sun,
the splendor of eternal light
and brilliant sun of justice,
come and with your holy light,
shine on us who sit in darkness
and in death's shadow!

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone."
(Isaiah 9: 1)
"Now I am sending my messenger—he will prepare the way before me; And the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple; The messenger of the covenant whom you desire— see, he is coming! says the LORD of hosts.They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, my own special possession, on the day when I take action. And I will have compassion on them, as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.  For the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble, And the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the LORD of hosts. But for you who fear my name, the sun of justice will arise with healing in its wings; And you will go out leaping like calves from the stall and tread down the wicked; They will become dust under the soles of your feet, on the day when I take action, says the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 3: 1, 17, 19-21)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Advent is a Time of Thanksgiving


This Advent there has been a gift and blessing of time to reflect on all God has shared with us, the blessings of community.  Part of the blessing of community is our life shared here in the city of Yankton.  Every year we join the city in celebrating a community Thanksgiving meal.

November 26th was the annual Yankton Community Thanksgiving dinner.  The sisters were asked (again) to help bake some of the turkeys and dressing for the meal.  Twenty-two sisters joyfully continued the tradition by assisting throughout the day.  They were joined by Fr. Thomas, a helpful Oblate, and our kitchen staff.

By 5:30 that evening, 32 turkeys were cooked and cut for serving as well was 24 pans of dressing, all on it way to the community meal.  Five of the sisters also joined in serving the meal along with other community volunteers.

Thank you to Sr. Joelle, sister outreach coordinator, and all of our Sisters, Oblates, and Friends who help us reach out and share our blessings with our Yankton community.

Thanksgiving was also at time of gratitude for those gifts our sisters share with each other. Gifts of our hands and hearts to our sisters.  The gift of baked pumpkin pies, for instance, graced each of our tables fresh from the monastery bakery.

What Advent blessings are you thankful for as we near gift of Christmas?

O Key of David

The banner was designed by
the Benedictine Sisters
of Turvey Abbey and
O Antiphon...

O Key of David,

and scepter of the House
of Israel, who open the door
and no one closes,
who close the door and
no one opens: 
O come, rescue us  from our dark prison,
where we sit in death's shadow!

"I will clothe him with your robe, gird him with your sash, confer on him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; what he opens, no one will shut, what he shuts, no one will open. I will fix him as a peg in a firm place, a seat of honor for his ancestral house; On him shall hang all the glory of his ancestral house: descendants and offspring, all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs" (Isaiah 22: 21-24)
"“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia, write this: “The holy one, the true, who holds the key of David, who opens and no one shall close, who closes and no one shall open, says this: “I know your works (behold, I have left an open door before you, which no one can close). You have limited strength, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name" (Revelation 3: 7-8).

Friday, December 19, 2014

O Root of Jesse

Banner was designed by
the Benedictine Sisters
of Turvey Abbey and
sold by McCrimmons.

O Antiphons...

O Root of Jesse,
who stand as a sign
of the people,
before whom all nations
shall pray,
O come, come Lord
to free us and delay no longer!

"On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the peoples—Him the nations will seek out; his dwelling shall be glorious...He shall raise a signal to the nations and gather the outcasts of Israel; the dispersed of Judah he shall assemble from the four corners of the earth." (Isaiah 11:10, 12)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

O Adonai

The banner was designed by
the Benedictine Sisters
of Turvey Abbey and
sold by McCrimmons.
O Antiphon...
O Adonai, and Leader
of the House of Israel,
who appeared in a burning bush
to Moses and gave him
the Law on Mount Sinai,
O come, come Lord
and redeem us with Your
strong arm outstretched!

"There the angel of the LORD appeared to him as fire flaming out of a bush. When he looked, although the bush was on fire, it was not being consumed. So Moses decided, “I must turn aside to look at this remarkable sight. Why does the bush not burn up?” When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to look, God called out to him from the bush: Moses! Moses! He answered, “Here I am.” God said: Do not come near! Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your father, he continued, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God" (Exodus 3: 2-6).

"But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah least among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; Whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne, Then the rest of his kindred shall return to the children of Israel. He shall take his place as shepherd by the strength of the LORDby the majestic name of the LORD, his God; And they shall dwell securely, for now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth..." (Micah 5: 1-3).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

O Wisdom of God

The banner was designed by
the Benedictine Sisters
of Turvey Abbey and
sold by McCrimmons.

O Antiphon...

O Wisdom of God,
who came forth
from the mouth
of the Most High,
reaching from beginning
to end, and with great power
yet gentleness, You set all creation in order:

O come Lord and teach us
the way of Wisdom!

"Does not Wisdom call, and Understanding raise her voice? On the top of the heights along the road, at the crossroads she takes her stand; By the gates at the approaches of the city, in the entryways she cries aloud: “To you, O people, I call; my appeal is to you mortals. You naive ones, gain prudence, you fools, gain sense. Listen! for noble things I speak; my lips proclaim honest words. Indeed, my mouth utters truth, and my lips abhor wickedness. All the words of my mouth are sincere, none of them wily or crooked; All of them are straightforward to the intelligent, and right to those who attain knowledge...Those who love me I also love, and those who seek me find me...“The LORD begot me, The beginning of his works, the forerunner of his deeds of long ago;From of old I was the first, before the earth. Then was I beside him as artisan; I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, Playing over the whole of his earth, having my delight with human beings. Now, children, listen to me; happy are they who keep my ways. Listen to instruction and grow wise, do not reject it! Happy the one who listens to me, attending daily at my gates, keeping watch at my doorposts; For whoever finds me finds life, and wins favor from the LORD" 
(Proverbs 8: 1-9, 17, 22-23 , 30-35).

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Our week of Advent Gaudete (rejoicing) brings the 'rosy' light of hope
to our winter days. May their light brighten your Advent too. 

"Rejoice O Jerusalem, with a great joy,
for your Savior will come to you, alleluia!" ~ Vespers Antiphon

These stained glass works of art light the Sisters' Advent Wreath as we gather
for the Liturgy of the Hours. The candle-lit designs progress
from deep purples and blues in the first week to lighter tones and shades.
May their light brighten your Advent too...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sister Kathy Named Endowed Nursing Chair


Congratulations to our own Sr. Kathy who truly lives out Benedict's call to care for the sick and suffering and teaches all those in her classes to do the same.  "Care of the sick must rank above and before all else, so that they may truly be served as Christ, for he said: "I was sick and you visited me", and, "What you did for the least of brothers you did for me"" (Rule of Benedict 36: 1-3).

Mount Marty College nursing department is pleased to announce the 2014-17 Endowed Nursing Chair was recently awarded to Sr. Kathy Burt RN, MSN, Ph.D.  

Sr. Kathy Burt attended Mount Marty College and graduated in 1993 with her Bachelor of Science in nursing degree. She received her Masters of Science in Nursing from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 2003 and her Ph.D. in 2006. She has worked as an RN at both Saint Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota and here at the Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton. Sr. Kathy has been teaching at Mount Marty College for the past 7 years and is currently an Assistant Professor of Nursing and serving as the Interim Chief Nurse Administrator and Division Chair of the nursing department.

In 1992, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital established an Endowed Chair of Nursing with Sr. Corinne Lemmer being named the first recipient for 1994-1997.  The recipient must demonstrate their ability as a teacher as well as scholarly and professional attainment by their competence in field of nursing to a greater degree. They must also have leadership and institutional contributions and community service through involvement in regional and national nursing associations.

"Sr. Kathy Named Endowed Nursing Chair." News Release. Mount Marty College. 8 Dec. 2014. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Hail, bright star of the ocean,
God's own gracious mother,
Virgin ever sinless, take our supplication,
to your Son, our Savior.
Surely, He will hear you. ~ Amen

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Advent Peace


Tonight, we return to the quiet of our Advent Peace with gratitude after a weekend of joyous Advent activity!

The whirlwind of Advent activity began with Lauds on Saturday morning. The sisters were joined by a variety of guests in chapel. They filled the guest 'row' and spread out among us sisters. A ripple of quiet whispers and swish of pages hummed beneath the hush of the chapel. As we moved through prayer together, a few smiles, helpful hands turning pages, and even a chuckle or two...all in praise of God.

After prayer, the guests' Advent activity took them in two different directions. The Catholic Daughters of America Court Willard prepared a wonderful breakfast of coffee cakes and morning sweets. Their generosity and joy filled our dinning room. Our sisters from the care center joined us as we lingered over coffee, shared stories of holidays past, and simply enjoyed the blessings of their faith-filled love.

Mary at prayer was the focus of the prayerful
environment next the podium at Saturday's
Advent retreat: the Fullness of Time.
Our other morning guests were led to our community chapter room for an Advent morning retreat hosted by our sisters in the Peace Center. Thirty guests and several of our own sisters gathered to reflect on Advent "Fullness of Time". Sr. Mary Jo shared reflections on the Advent theme, the retreatants also shared prayer together, and were allowed time for silence and prayer as well.

The Advent activity continued through lunch. As the sisters were at table, Saint Nicholas (Postulant Terry) arrived with two helpful elves to share feastday joy! He was greeted with a rousing chorus of "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas". Saint Nick moved joyfully among the tables offering the sisters treats of apples & oranges, beautifully decorated gingerbread men & women, and chocolate candies; three in honor of the Blessed Trinity.

Still more activity continued Saturday afternoon. Folks from Mount Marty College began to prepare for the upcoming Vespers; checking the sound and lighting systems, determining what more might be needed to ensure a wonderful concert. Sunday morning, the MMC Vespers folk returned! They waited until after the last of our Sunday congregation left the chapel, and then they began to move the choir risers, lights, sound and so much more in...all while our sacristan sisters and their helpers began to move the presider's chair, ambo, altar, and other sacred elements safely out of the sanctuary. This special concert, a Vespers in song, was held twice this Sunday: afternoon and evening.

And now we joyfully return to our Advent peace and prayer.

Advent Blessings to you,

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

May Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him ~ Todd


In our monastery, the employees who help us in our everyday lives become a part of an extended family.  These men and women assist in everything from caring for our elders, to organizing our finances, as well as cleaning and maintaining our home.  Todd was a maintenance man who could fix or finangle anything that went wrong in the monastery.  He brought his good humor and gentle care to not only the work but also the sisters who called upon his ingenuity.  Todd's death is a loss felt throughout our little family of employees and sisters on the hill.  The sisters share in the sorrow of Todd's many friends and offer their prayers for his family who love him.

"Todd James Pulkrabek of Tabor, SD was born December 7th, 1961, in Broken Bow, Nebraska. He moved to San Diego, California, that same year. He grew up in San Diego learning all facets of the construction trade, including concrete fabrication, carpentry, plumbing, drywall and painting. He moved where he was needed in California, working to perfect his chosen field of carpentry.When Hurricane Iniki hit the Hawaiian Islands in 1992, doing $2.6 billion in damage, Todd was called upon to help rebuild hundreds of the structures and businesses which had been devastated. In 1995, wanting a change of locale, he moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he worked as a Project Foreman at Nellis Air Force Base. It was there in Las Vegas, where he met the love of his life, Laura. They married in 2006.They moved to Tabor in 2006, where he worked as Maintenance Coordinator for Sacred Heart Monastery, until the time of his death. He loved helping the Sisters, swapping tall tales with his friends and family, working on old cars and most especially, fishing with his wife."(Yankton Press & Dakotan. 25 Nov. 2014. Web. 26 Nov. 2014)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Solemnity of Christ the King

“He is the ‘Alpha and Omega’, the ‘Beginning and End’, the ‘Way, Truth, and Life’. Indeed, Christ promises to His faithful friends the gift of salvation, the pledge of everlasting life through His Resurrection.  Therefore, faithfulness to Christ, our King, opens the door to our eternal happiness…

…Bearing witness to the truth in this age can be difficult. But Christ has shown us that ‘kingship’ must always be at the service of the good of mankind. Therefore, with His grace and in hope of His gift of salvation, let us bear witness to the truth, even when it is unpopular or costly to do so. In this way, we become faithful servants of Christ, preparing the way for His Kingdom, both on earth and in heaven.” (USCCB #ChristtheKing)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Advent Retreat: In the Fullness of Time


Advent is only a week away! Are you ready to hurry up and slow down to listen for the Lord speaking to your heart? We are offering an Advent pause on Saturday, December 6th; the end of our first week of Advent. The Benedictine Peace Center invites you to slow down and come to "In the Fullness of Time."  An Advent retreat presented by Sr. Mary Jo in our Monastery Chapter room.  Slow down and experience how God gifts us with special moments of time.

Advent Retreat Brochure


In Thanksgiving for the Holiday Fair!


Today, we share a song of praise and thanksgiving
from our Sr. Francine in the gift shop...

On Sunday Week II of our Psalmody, we recite from Daniel "moon and stars, praise the Lord."
I think our praise after the Holiday Fair would sound like this:

Gardeners and apple pickers; praise the Lord for abundance,
Jelly and jam makers; praise the Lord for taste buds,
Knitter and crocheters; praise the Lord in patterns,
Seamstresses and needle pointers; praise the Lord in stitches,
Glass workers and jewelry makers; praise the Lord in designs and light,
Card and candle makers; praise the Lord with words and wax,
Plant growers; praise the Lord in greenery,
Bread, bun, and noodle makers; praise the Lord with aroma and appetites,
Greeters and sellers; praise the Lord with hospitality,
Hospitality bakers; praise the Lord with mouth-watering treats,
Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery and Monk of Assumption Abbey;
praise the Lord with the gifts He has freely given each of us.
Amen! Alleluia!

Our sisters from the gift shop have some amazing numbers to share.
523 Loaves of Bread & Muffins
56 Plates of Squash Buns
25 Rose Petals
88 Bags of Nun-Better Noodles
36 Containers of Sunflower Brittle
541 Jars of Jams, Jellies & Pickles
876 Pieces of Work & Plants created by our Monastic Artisans
27 Sisters Shared Their Homemade Hospitality Treats

We have been blessed in many ways by the countless people who touch our lives. Guests from near and far joined us on Saturday, October 25th: South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa...and even...Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Minnesota, and even Virginia! Thank you for all who shared their gifts of time, talent, and treasure to support our International Student Sisters.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Vocations Awareness Week!


This week the Catholic Church invites us to celebrate the gift and call of vocations within the Church.

Sunday evening, we began our Vocation Awareness Week with a very 'punny' supper with our sisters.  The supper included: 'Priestly' pork chops, 'Diaconate' dumplings, 'Sisterly' sauerkarut, a 'Generous Singles' salad bar, 'Brotherly' bites of ice cream, and even 'Married Life' morsels of cookies.

The evening continued with our monthly Eucharistic Adoration for Vocations.  The sisters invited students from Mount Marty College and local parishioners to join us. Our silent Adoration before the Lord was only broken by Scripture readings and theological reflections every half-hour.

The sisters found new table decorations when we gathered for lunch on Monday.  The Vocations Awareness folk had created table tents with vocation themed conversation topics and ideas for each table of sisters.

Tuesday evening we gathered with our Mount Marty Student prayer partners.  The evening began with prayer that our hearts be open to God's Call.  At the end of our prayer together, the Sisters their hands in blessing over the Student Prayer Partners "May God bless you with open minds, joyful hearts and loving companions as you listen to the Lord in your lives."  Then the students extended their hands in bless and prayed, "May God bless you with peace and joy as you prayerfully listen and live the Benedictine way of life."  After prayer, the evening continued with time for the sisters and their prayer partners to visit, play, and maybe have a treat too.

We will continue you uphold you in prayer as this week of Vocations Awareness continues.

we thank you for calling men and women
to serve in your Son's kingdom
as priests, deacons, and consecrated persons.   Send your Holy Spirit to help others to respond generously and courageously to your call. 
May our community of faith
support vocations of sacrificial love
in our youth and young adults.  
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.  ~Amen

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Reminder from Pope Francis...


"Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart (Rule of Benedict, Prologue: 1).

Are you seeking to listen more deeply? We would be happy to share our Benedictine life of prayer, offer times of listening and retreat, and walk with you on the way.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

May Perpetual Light Shine Upon Her ~ Sr. Marie

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon her. 

May the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Welcoming Postulant Terry!


The Postulant Theresa, escorted by our vocation director, knocked at the monastery door. Prioress Penny greeted her and asked, "Terry, what do you seek?" She responded, "I seek to live in loving service to God in this community." Each new postulant offers her own response to this question.  After the Postulant Director proclaimed a reading from the Rule of Benedict, the Prioress called upon the whole community to live as example and share our support with Terry as she begins this deeper discernment of our monastic life. With this simple ceremony at the front doors of the monastery, Terry became a Postulant and began her journey into our Benedictine life.  Almost two months later, she has begun settling into our daily life of the community.  How does someone settle into our family life?  Slowly… 

Terry recently shared that some of her new experiences were those that our Midwestern sisters had been living most of their lives. “Since I come from the East Coast (I’m a Philly girl), I have had some experiences that are new culturally. For one, I have never experienced a “corn party”. First we shucked and shucked and shucked some more, more corn than I have ever seen before. We also had corn on the cob for lunch and dinner for about two and a half weeks. Then we cut the corn off the rest of the cobs so we could enjoy it all year long. That’s a lot of corn. I will also be experiencing my first “pasta party”, wherein I am told the pasta will be flowing faster than I can imagine. I don’t even know how pasta is made, but I will be a professional before the end of the day, I am told! The pasta is being made for the Holiday Fair when the sisters sell homemade goodies made right here in the monastery.”

Postulant Terry’s room is in the monastery hall dedicated to the new members in formation.  The new members are allowed to settle-in to feel comfortable in their bedroom, I brought a guitar, computer, and some stuffed animals. Recently I used one of the stuffed animals as a doorstop to keep the door from slamming shut in the wind. One of the sisters saw it (it is an eagle) and she said she saw a giant mouse in my doorway. Ever since the “giant mouse” has taken to stalking her –outside her door in the middle of the night, checking out her office desk, and even reading from her book of the Divine Office.” However, not everything from home can be brought to the monastery. Postulant Terry needed to leave her dog, Samson, in the loving care of a new family.

As a Benedictine family, we also work to care for our home together and even the Postulant has a household charge or two, “My charges include Friday evening and Sunday brunch dishes and cleaning the Peace chapel,” as well as charges taking care of the monastery hall and group room for formation members. “I’d have to say that washing the dishes is my favorite among these current tasks.” These daily tasks are on top of Terry’s continued work teaching as a Professor of Theology at Mount Marty College and new work learning in her beginning formation classes. “I am currently reading a book and discussing it with two sisters on the topic of transitions – this is helpful to me in facing some of the facets of transition. I am also taking singing lessons each week and a liturgy class based in the Church’s teaching and Liturgy of the Hours.”  With all this juggling around the monastery, it has been important to remember “how thoughtful St. Benedict was in incorporating time for everything in any given day: prayer, work, leisure, communal and private time, rest and refreshment – and it all seems to work!”

Central to our Benedictine life is the Liturgy of the Hours and Eucharist.  Soon after entering, even Postulants begin to fall into the liturgical rhythm, “I really enjoy the chanting of the prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. My favorites come from the chanted renditions of the Benedictus.”  Personal prayer is also an essential part of the prayer life of new members, “I have long been aware of and tried Lectio Divino in the past, but since entering this is a prayer that I practice every day.”

“Don’t forget to breathe.” This advice was shared with loving prayer from another sister as Postulant Terry began to settle in to our monastic life.  As Terry continues her discernment, she offers this wisdom, reminiscent of Pope Francis, to women who are considering religious life, Make sure you are happy with the decision to enter religious life. The Church needs happy religious.” This advice is a reflection of her own response when sisters ask how she is doing, a quote from Tobit, “brimming over with joy!”

Please pray for Postulant Terry's continued discernment in our Benedictine Community!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Our Sister Recycler in the News!

Our Sister Matthew was highlighted in the local newspaper last Tuesday! Her decades-long service to Mount Marty College through beautiful grounds and flowerbeds has long emphasized recycling and caring for all God's creation.  This selfless service reminds her sisters of chapter 31 in the Rule of Benedict, 
"She will regard all utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar, aware that nothings is to be neglected. She should not be prone to greed, nor be wasteful and extravagant with the goods of the monastery, but should do everything with moderation and according to the prioress' orders.Above all, let her be humble...if the community is rather large, she should be given helpers, that  with their assistance she may calmly perform the duties of her office" (RB 31: 10-17).
"MMC's Recycling Champ Gets Some Help",
by Shauna Marlette, Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan
Sister Matthew Wehri has always made sure Mount Marty College (MMC) has been ahead of the curve when it comes to recycling.
Now, thanks to a grant from Keep America Beautiful (KAB) and the Coca-Cola Foundation, she is going to get a little help from the students who returned to the Yankton campus on Monday.
This past year MMC applied for and received the national recycling bin grant, where the school was awarded 40 bins designed specifically for placement around campus.
“I think it was 1976 when I started collecting the cans on campus,” Wehri said. “A long-time nun in the Monastery was working in the kitchens and she told me that we could get $0.16 a pound recycling cans. So, I began going around campus, digging in the dumpsters and collecting cans.”
Wehri said that she decided to collect the cans to help fund maintenance of the campus’ flower beds. She added that a small amount has also gone to helping pay for the monastery’s past dog’s food, treats and care.
“Every morning, afternoon and evening - three times a day - I go out and separate the bags, collecting cans,” she said. “Maybe we don’t collect as much during the summer, but definitely when school is in session.”
Noting that in a typical month she will collect between 60-70 pounds of cans, Wehri said they collect enough to overflow the back of a pickup every month.
“Some of the kids-but not many - are good about separating out their cans and leaving them in bags next to the dumpsters, “she said. “Not a lot of them do it though. I would say 75 percent of the cans collected, I have separated out of the trash.”
The college hopes to help lower that number.
“We were looking for a way to be more environmentally friendly and at the same time we wanted to start a good recycling program at the college,” said Greg Heine, the chief operations officer for MMC. “Sister Wehri has been the watch-dog for recycling on campus, sorting garbage to get the cans out. Now we hope we can help her out.”
At Mount Marty College, a plan will be implemented that not only focuses on the daily act of recycling, but will also include education outreach by Keep Yankton Beautiful.
 “We will be working with work our work study program to help provide assistance to Sister Matthew with the collecting,” Heine said. “The education aspect will be all student-driven.”
In thanks for her years of service to the campus, Heine noted that the college had placed a label on each of the new bins that has a photo of Sister Matthew asking the students to help her recycle and keep the campus clean.
“It is just one way we can honor her for her years of service to the campus,” he said. “She enjoys the landscaping and working with the flowers but would never take money to do it. By recycling she is able to fund the projects and every penny she had made recycling has gone back to the campus.”
Wehri said she knows that the students sometimes look at her funny when she is digging in the garbage, but that she hopes they understand why she is doing it and, in the future, will help by recycling their cans into the appropriate bins.
“Almost all of the bins have been installed before the students returned this week,” Heine said. “With the education that is planned because of this award, and the ongoing awareness this will create we are optimistic our efforts to increase recycling campus-wide will be successful."

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Service to Community: corn parties


The Rule of Benedict calls the community to service to each other. While a sister's assigned work or ministry might lead to her to teaching, nursing, pastoral care, or other paid ministry, her service to her Benedictine sisters is understood to be a celebration of mutual obedience and good zeal.

"Obedience is a blessing to be shown by all, not only to the abbot but also to one another as brothers, since we know that it is by this way of obedience that we go to God. Therefore, although orders of the abbot or of the priors appointed by him take precedence, and no unofficial order may supersede them, in every other instance younger monks should obey their seniors with all love and concern. Anyone found objecting to this should be reproved" (RB 71: 1-5).

"Just as there is an evil zeal of bitterness which separates from God and leads to hell, so there is a good zeal which separates from vices and leads to God and to life everlasting. This zeal, therefore, the sisters should practice with the most fervent love. Thus they should anticipate one another in honor; most patiently endure one another's infirmities, whether of body or of character; vie in paying obedience one to another. No one following what she considers useful for herself, but rather what benefits another; tender the charity of sisterhood chastely; fear God in love; love their Abbess with a sincere and humble charity; prefer nothing whatever to Christ. And may He bring us all together to life everlasting" (RB 72)!

 With these words of Benedict and the needs of our sisters in mind, our intrepid Garden Sisters dressed themselves in boots and bluejeans and headed out to the cornfields. Our visiting student sisters also joined the labor. The hard work of walking the field and picking corn was punctuated with joyful banter and laughter as the sisters filled the pickup to the brim with fresh sweet corn. When the last bucketful was balanced on the truck, the sisters returned to the monastery for a break. They were greeted with anticipation and cool water.

"And if the circumstances of the place or their  poverty should require that they themselves do the work of gathering the harvest, let them not be discontented; for then are they truly monastics when they live by the labor of their hands, as did our Fathers and the Apostles. Let all things be done with moderation, however, for the sake of the faint-hearted" (RB 48: 7-9).

If there is much work to be done, Benedict called for an 'all hands on deck' mentality. However, each sister is to carefully consider what she can do in moderation. Our sister Leonette, just shy of 99, as well as sisters Arthur and Margaretta, who travel the halls by scooter, brought their willing hands and hearts to husking the bounty of sweet corn. They weren't alone!

As soon as the husking note was posted, sisters donned their aprons and joined the hallway filled with heaps of corn to be husked. The sound of husks ripping became a background to the sharing of stories and memories.

This is only part of the preparation of the sister's work in preparing the sweet corn for freezing. Other sisters gently brushed the corn, washing the remaining silks from the ear and trimmed any damaged areas from the ears. Then the kitchen Sisters and staff steam the ears before the corn cutting 'party' in the evening.

The evening corn party finds sisters in every corner of the kitchen and serving hall! As the cutters trim the kernels away from the ear, other sisters carried away buckets of now empty ears or began weighing the kernels into five pound tin pans and prepared them for the deep freeze. All sisters assisted in whatever way possible; from prioress to postulant, helpful hands made quick work of the hundreds of ears. Even our Sister Virginia, who just celebrated her 100th year, held pans for others to fill. Here again, the work was accented with laughter, story, and memory.

The tradition of working together to care for the needs of monastery continues. Only two weeks after her entrance, Postulant Terry found herself tucked among the sisters and up to her elbows in corn...and listening to the stories across the generations. We invite you to join us in our lived tradition of mutual service, prayer, and laughter too.