Thursday, July 31, 2014

Profession Prayers...


Please continue to pray for Novice Peggy as she nears an important day in her life as a Benedictine. A year ago this weekend, Peggy was received into the Canonical Novitiate within our Monastery. After a year of Benedictine study, service to community, prayer and discernment, she will promise her first Monastic Profession on Sunday before God, her sisters, and immediate family as a part of our Vespers Liturgy of the Hours.  Blessings,

Monastic Chapter, August 2014


This weekend of Monastic Chapter includes more celebrations for the monastery.  After the first day of meetings, we will gather to honor our Diamond Jubilarian Sisters at the Celebration of the Eucharist.  Sisters who have lived our Benedictine life for 60, 70, and even 75 years will renew their Monastic Profession.  At the end of Saturday, we will gather to welcome Postulant Terry, the newest seeker of God's Will in our community.  Chapter ends that Saturday night; however, the sisters will continue to gather through Sunday Vespers to join our praise with Novice Peggy's as she is called forward to promise her first Monastic Profession as a vowed sister.

 We also ask for your prayers as all of our sisters, from prioress to novice, travel home to discuss the "important business [that] has to be done in the monastery" RB 3:1. 

Whenever any important business has to be done in the monastery, let the Abbot call together the whole community and state the matter to be acted upon. Then, having heard the brethren's advice, let him turn the matter over in his own mind and do what he shall judge to be most expedient. The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best. 
Let the brethren give their advice with all the deference required by humility, and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions; but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment, and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare. 
However, just as it is proper for the disciples to obey their master, so also it is his function to dispose all things with prudence and justice.

The changes in our prayer schedule during Monastic Chapter, all celebrated in Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel.
~ Morning Prayer 8:30 AM
~ Mass (private) celebrating Diamond Jubilarians 4:00 PM
~ Evening Prayer 7:15 PM
~ Morning Prayer 8:30 AM
~ Entrance Ritual for Postulant (private) 5:15 PM
~ Evening Prayer 5:30 PM
~ Morning Prayer 8:30 AM
~ Mass 10 AM
~ Evening Prayer & First Profession of Novice Peggy (private)  5:00 PM

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Golden Jubilee: Blessed be God the Faithful One


 On Saturday, July 19th, we celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Sisters Jeanne and Mildred. The chapel was filled with sisters, family, and friends as our Sister Jubilarians renewed their monastic profession at the celebration of the Eucharist. The joy overflowed from chapel to the reception as they celebrated and praised "Blessed be God the Faithful One". Please join us in lifting our Golden Sisters up in prayer throughout this their jubilee year.

Sister Jeanne grew up on a farm near Tyndall, SD, second in a family of four children. She is the daughter of the late John and Louise Ranek. After graduating form Tyndall High School, Sr. Jeanne attended Mount Marty College graduating with a BA in Social Sciences. Mount Marty opened worlds both academically and spiritually and lead her to enter Sacred Heart Convent that fall. After her first profession, Sr. Jeanne taught at Mount Marty High School until its closure in 1969. This was followed by graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame where she earned both a Masters and Doctor of Philosophy degrees! Sister ministries have varied from teaching at the college and graduate levels, to consulting and facilitating for religious communities. She has also served in leadership roles for the American Benedictine Academy, Association of Benedictine Retreat Centers, and Monastic Interreligious Dialogue.  Since 1990, Sr. Jeanne has been engaged in serving full-time retreat ministry and directing the ecumenical Spiritual Direction Ministry Formation Program. Sr. Jeanne earned a Doctor of Ministry degree in Spiritual Direction through the Graduate Theological Foundation including a summer attending Oxford University in England. She continues as the director of our Benedictine Peace Center established in 2001 with the completion of a new wing of the monastery. 

Sr. Jeanne shared, " Fifty years have passed quickly, filled with experiences and opportunities I hadn't dreamed would be mine. Whatever the years before me hold, my hope is that I will be ever more attentive and responsive to the profound and amazing gift of God's loving Presence among us. I am deeply grateful to my family, my sisters and all those whom I have been privileged to serve in a variety of ministries. With a long way to go yet, my hope is to attain what St. Benedict promises to a disciple after long years of fidelity in our monastic way of life, that is: "to run with heart enlarged on the way of God's commandments" (Rule of Benedict, Prologue: 49).

Sisters sub-Prioress, Mildred, Jeanne, and Prioress
on the day of the Golden Jubilee celebration.

Sister Mildred was born in Luverne, MN, the fourth child of Mildred and Walter Busch. She joined three brothers and three sisters growing up on a farm in the St. Rose of Lima parish of Garretson, SD. Parish life was an anchor of her family's faith life as her father became the first layman to lector and serve as communion minister in their church following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Sister graduated from Garretson High School and attended Mount Marty College for one year before she entered Sacred Heart Convent in 1962. Later, she received her BA in history of Mount Marty College and an MA in education from the University of Nebraska in 1981. For 33 years, sister taught at the elementary and high school levels in parish schools in both South Dakota and Nebraska. During 20 of those years, she was principal and states that her years in education have brought great joy and satisfaction for the privilege of being involved in the lives of hundreds of children and young people.

Throughout her years in religious life, Sr. Mildred was involved in community administrative areas, serving terms on the council, committees, and task forces. In 1999 she entered a new phase of ministry by serving on the task force for co-sponsorship of our Benedictine Health System with the Presentation Sisters Health System which is now known as Avera.  She continued to serve the health system as a member of several Avera hospital Boards of Directors as well as System Member Chair. In 2005, she was appointed Procurator to the community. She loved those years of serving the community very directly, adding that "the learning curve was huge, but the challenge was enjoyable." Currently, sister is the Pastoral Administrative Assistant at St. Michael's Parish in Lincoln, NE. Her newest venture has been writing and sharing guided visualizations on Gospel passages, stories, and events. In closing, Sr. Mildred says, "On my jubilee, I celebrate with everlasting gratitude, my call to the monastery and thank God for His faithfulness."


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Celebrating the Dedication of Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel


"There is one thing I ask of the Lord, to live in the house of the Lord."
~ Benedictus Antiphon

Every year we celebrate the anniversary of the consecration of Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel.  This year marks the 64th year of our prayer and worship in this chapel dedicated to the praise of God. The dedication candles are lit, the sisters have gathered for statio, and our prayer of thanksgiving begins...

"From the beginning of the community, the sisters spent long hours in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The liturgical prayer of the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharistic celebration, became ever more important in their prayer life. The need for more worship space became imperative. Mother Xavier Fischlin included an adequate chapel in the 1908 addition to the convent. With the help of our chaplain, Father Ignatius Forester, OSB, and the contribution of many benefactors, she led the way in the construction of the first Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel dedicated in 1919.  

Thirty-one years later, Mother Jerome Schmitt realized our dream of building a house of prayer that reflects the lives and hopes of all our sisters, while at the same time memorializing Bishop Martin Marty. The modified gothic structure, with the cross atop its spire soaring 188 feet above Yankton, stands etched in stone as a magnificent expression of our dedication to prayer "(One Heart One Soul booklet 2002).

The chapel's very completion was an act of faith. It was built in the years after World War II; when building materials were both scarce and precious, M. Jerome and the contractors found a way through their trust in God. Bishop Martin Marty Memorial Chapel was completed and consecrated in the year 1950. The chapel has been filled with the voices of our sisters giving God praise since that day.

"The feast of the Dedication of a church is celebrated annually only in those church buildings which have been consecrated by a bishop. The dedication sets the building aside as a sacred, holy place which cannot be used for other purposes. Among other things, the building must be debt-free when dedicated, so most church buildings are not consecrated. The ceremony is one of the most beautiful of all the ceremonies of the Church...

...Also part of the ceremony is the blessing of the walls. They too are anointed with the Chrism Oil at twelve locations throughout the church building. The twelve locations represent the twelve apostles on whose foundations the Christian faith rests and are marked with a cross and candle (called the consecration candles). Traditionally, those candles are only lit on the anniversary of the dedication of the church building.

The ceremony of dedication has similarities to the Sacrament of Baptism, especially regarding the anointing and candles. Those entering the church through Baptism are also anointed as a symbol of their being set aside (dedicated) to and for God. Those baptized receive a candle representing the Light of Christ. They are to receive and be the Light of Christ to the world" (Father Thomas on the anniversary of the Dedication of Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel).

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Rite of Transfer: "My heart is ready, O God, My heart is ready."


 Benedictine women and men profess three vows from the Rule of Benedict: Obedience, Fidelity to the Monastic Way of Life (celibacy & poverty are inferred here), and Stability. The profession or vow of Stability reflects the importance of our commitment to one Benedictine community. Stability is about more than the physical place of the Benedictine monastery or abbey. That one group of sisters or monks becomes our family; our life of prayer, community, and service is centered in the life of that community. If a Benedictine nun or monk were to feel called to transfer (move) from one community to another, they would need to officially profess their change of stability from their previous community to their new Benedictine community.

Prayerful environment at the Chapel

Our Sister Lynn began her Benedictine life with the sisters at Mother of God Monastery in Watertown, SD. She promised her first profession on July 29, 1988 and her perpetual profession on June 14, 1992. After some years, she began discerning God's call to our Benedictine community. She began the transfer process in 2011, which included continued discernment, classes in our history and traditions, as well as time to grow in relationship with our Benedictine family.
Sr. Lynn signing her profession document
on the altar.
Prioress of Mother of God Monastery, Sr. Lynn,
Prioress of Sacred Heart Monastery, and
Formation director at SHM.

Sr. Lynn's request for permanent transfer was brought before our June Chapter and the vote was an overwhelming acceptance of her desire to become a full member of our community.  During Sunday's prayer of Vespers, we celebrated the ceremony of transfer. Her theme of "My heart is ready, O God, My heart is ready" reflected not only the Psalms, but also her own readiness to commit fully to our community. Sister read her statement transferring her profession of Stability and renewing her perpetual monastic profession. She then signed the document upon the altar as a symbol and reminder of her life in Christ. 

As a sign of her full membership within our community.  Sr. Lynn received the symbol of our community.  "Sister Lynn, receive this symbol as a sign of fidelity to God and to your profession. May you faithfully adhere to Christ and persevere in your commitment to this monastic community," proclaimed by the prioress as she places the pin in Sr. Lynn's lapel. Sister retained the ring she received at her perpetual profession within Mother of God Monastery.

Please keep our Sister Lynn in your prayers as she begins her role as a full-member in our monastic family.  You can learn more about Sister's discernment and religious life in this reflection from her Silver Jubilee last year.


Monday, July 14, 2014

In Honor of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha


Today, the Church honors Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. In celebrating her, we seek to honor and celebrate the faith and courage of the Native American peoples and tribes of North America. Our community has ministered with the native peoples of the Dakotas beginning as early as the 1880's. We continued to serve on various reservations throughout North and South Dakota through 2000. We were honored to share our faith and community life with the peoples of the Dakotas. To learn more about our early ministry, follow this link to Our History as Yankton Benedictines.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fun on the Feast of Saint Benedict!

We began our celebration of Saint Benedict last evening with first Vespers.
We processed in Statio 
into Chapel, then entered into the feast with chanted prayer.  The prayer continued this morning with Lauds and the Eucharist.  

However, our celebration of Benedict includes his joy of community.  We invite our employees into the monastic dinning room to join us for lunch and dinner (depending upon their working hours).  It was wonderful to sit down, pray, and see the maintenance man, care center nurse, sister and secretary all enjoying the day and the meal together.

The fun continued with the sisters from our Riverview living group (small groups of 5-15 sisters) inviting all the sisters and employees to an afternoon celebration.  Sisters at the door offered you a playing card and cryptically reminded you to keep it close.

More sisters from Riverview dished up the ice-cream for rootbeer floats!  All throughout the room sisters and employees filled the room with laughter. Then another sister began to call-out playing cards by number and suit!  Door prizes!  The sisters had collected a variety of 'white elephant' grab-bag peaking.

Sharing the joy of community...Sr. Marie Helene (celebrating 70 years of profession) and Novice Peggy (soon to profess her first profession).

Now...back to Chapel for prayer!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Celebrating our Centenarian!

Yesterday, we celebrated our centenarian, Sister Virginia!  A few of her close family, some cake, and the love of her sisters.  The following 'story' is from her 80th jubilee...

Sr. Virginia is the 3rd of 13 children of her parents, who supported her call to religious life.  She attended St. Mary's grade school where she was influenced by the Benedictine sisters and monks.  She entered Sacred Heart Monastery on September 2, 1929 at the age of 15.  After graduating from Mount Marty High School in 1932 she was invested as a novice.  She made first profession on August 16, 1933 and final profession on June 26, 1939.

After a year of teaching and loving 53 first graders, Sr. Virginia was called into the field of nursing.  She graduated from Sacred Heart School of Nursing in 1937.  She was a nurse from 1937-1978, she then worked in hospital administration in South Dakota, receiving a credential in Health Care Administration from the University of Minnesota in 1972.  She received a degree from Mount Marty College and became certified in Pastoral Care in 1979.  She then served in Pastoral Care ministry in Colorado from 1979 until her retirement to the monastery in 2001.

Reflecting on her 80th jubilee, Sr. Virginia says, "God's blessings have truly overwhelmed me these 80 years for which I am deeply grateful.  Time has passed quickly amidst joys, sorrows, complexities but always accompanied by an awareness of God's abiding peace, grace and assuring love.  I am most appreciative that God called me to Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton to be a member of this Benedictine community."

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Seeking Peace and Forgiveness...


It is our monastery's custom for the sisters to take a week of retreat each year.  This week many of our sisters are retreating with lessons on our Monastic Mystics: Saints Hildegard of Bingen, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Gertrude the Great, Julian of Norwich, and Thomas Merton.  During this time of seeking peace, the monastery sisters will fill-in for the retreat sisters house charges, share breakfast and dinner in silence, and in many little ways, hold their retreat sisters up in prayer.

Seeking Christ's gift of forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is also a part of each retreat for the sisters at the monastery.  It begins with a communal prayer including the chanting of Psalm 103, an Epistle from Paul, and Litany of Repentance.  However, the most meaningful part (according to your poor scribe) is when the sisters seek the forgiveness of each other.

The Prioress calls us to this action; the two choirs stand and face each other...
Choir One bows to their sisters across the aisle and says, "Bless me, Sisters, and forgive me for my failure to love and support you as Christ would have me do." Choir Two stretches their hands out over their bowed sisters and responds, "We forgive you and ask God's mercy and pardon for you." After Choir Two bows in seeking forgiveness and is blessed by their sisters, our Prioress leads us in the Lord's Prayer and finally calls us to a Sign of Peace.  This peace is shared among the sisters through making the Sign of the Cross on her forehead as we say, "May the Peace of Christ be with you. Amen."

After this communal prayer of forgiveness, our monastery Chaplain and a few priests from the local churches retire to quiet confessionals and corners in the Chapel to hear the confessions and offer the peace and forgiveness of Christ's Absolution.

And the quiet of retreat continues...please pray for us as we continue to pray for you.