Saturday, August 22, 2015

We've moved!

Greetings,

We've moved our blog to the monastery's website!

www.yanktonbenedictines.org/blog/

We invite you to keep reading the stories of our monastic life as Benedictine sisters in Yankton, SD at the new website!

Blessings,

Friday, August 7, 2015

Commissioning ~ Sent Out to Serve

GreetiCommissioning Sending Blessing Environment Prayer Yankton Benedictines Sacred Heart Monastery Sistersngs,
Our summer Monastic Chapter concluded with a prayer of commissioning.  Within the prayer, called each sister forward and was blessed by Sister Penny, our prioress.  Each year the prioress chooses a theme to send us out in service to the community and Church.  This year she reflected Pope Francis call to religious:
"I am counting on you “to wake up the world”, since the distinctive sign of consecrated life is prophecy. As I told the Superiors General: “Radical evangelical living is not only for religious: it is demanded of everyone. But religious follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way”
(Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter to All Consecrated People).
Commissioning Sending Council Blessing Prayer Yankton Benedictines Sacred Heart Monastery Sisters
After reading and reflecting on our Holy Father's call to "to wake up the world", Sr. Penny called forward the two newly elected members of our Monastic Council.  These sisters were reminded of their role as members of the council in advising the prioress and listening to the monastic community, and then she offered a prayer of blessing over them while the whole community offered their silent prayers.

The commissioning began as each sister was called forward by name to be blessed by Sister Penny, prioress.  Her blessings were all based in Pope Francis' call to "Go Out and Wake Up the World!" but were individualized to each sisters' current ministry or service for the Church.  It was a reminder to us that while some of our sisters serve the needs of the monastery in care for our home and gardens, others reach out to the local needs of others, and still other sisters serve the needs of God's people while living away from home in other towns and cities...we can all wake up the world to the presence of Christ and love of God in their lives.

Commissioning Sending Blessing Prioress 2 Prayer Yankton Benedictines Sacred Heart Monastery Sisters
After receiving the blessing of the prioress, Sr. Jeanne, sub-prioress, gave each sister a commissioning card with the logo for the Year for Consecrated Life as designed by the National Religious Vocations Conference.  This little card calls out to us "Go Out and Wake Up the World!" a reminder for our personal prayer.  We encourage you to remember your call to live in God's service as well, your call to share the message of Christ...your call to wake up the world.

Blessings to you,

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Diamond Jubilarian Celebrations!

Greetings,
In our monastic life, 'Diamond Jubilee' refers to the 60th, 75th, and 80th anniversaries of a sister's first Monastic Profession.  These celebrations reaffirm the joy of life, love of community, and devotion to service and prayer in the Church.  We celebrated our Diamond Jubilarian sisters on Friday, July 31st with a Eucharistic Celebration for sisters during our Summer Monastic Chapter.  This year the Jubilarians chose Pope Francis' words from the Year for Consecrated Life for their theme:  Celebrating our monastic call with Gratitude, Passion, Hope.
"Together let us thank the Father, who called us to follow Jesus by fully embracing the Gospel and serving the Church, and poured into our hearts the Holy Spirit, the source of our joy and our witness to God’s love and mercy before the world...  The first of these aims is to look to the past with gratitude...  This Year also calls us to live the present with passion. Grateful remembrance of the past leads us, as we listen attentively to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church today, to implement ever more fully the essential aspects of our consecrated life... To embrace the future with hope should be the third aim of this Year"

(Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter to All Consecrated People)
After the Liturgy of the Word, our Prioress called the sisters forward to renew their Monastic Profession:
"Sisters, the Church rejoices with you today as you celebrate your 60th, 75th, and 80th anniversaries of Monastic Profession.  We invite you now to renew the profession you made to Christ and the Church."
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Sr. Penny, Prioress; Sisters Jane and Marita, 60th Jubilee; Sr. Jeanne, Sub-Prioress         Sisters Jeanette and Laeticia, 75th Jubilee; Sister Leonette, 80th Jubilee
The Catholic Church's blessing:
"May the blessing of Almighty God descend upon you to strengthen you in the coming years.  May your faithfulness and serenity be a joy to you, an encouragement to others, and a constant witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.  And may our loving God bring us all alike to everlasting life. Amen"
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We continued to honor our Diamond Jubilarians with a festive meal after the Mass.  They were ushered to tables especially set and decorated with flowers, sisters were assigned to serve each table of Jubilarians and their guests.  As we gathered in the refectory, sisters took turns pausing at the celebrants tables with a hug to offer their gratitude, prayer, and joyful thanks.  The dining room was filled with stories of their joyful service with gratitude for their past, honoring the passion of their present professed life, and praying with hope for all yet to come.
Diamond Jubilee Anniversary Sisters 75 Years Yankton Benedictines Sacred Heart Monastery
Sister Laeticia celebrating her 75th Jubilee at supper with her friend Sr. Marielle.
Diamond Jubilee Anniversary Sisters 80 Years Yankton Benedictines Sacred Heart Monastery
Sr. Sharon Ann joined Sister Leonette at table in celebrating her 80 years of Monastic Profession.









Blessings to you,

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Anniversary of the Dedication of Bishop Marty Chapel

Greetings,

Every year we celebrate the anniversary of the consecration of Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel.  This year marks the 65th 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.  
But first, it behooves me to share the story of how the chapel was built from our sisters hopes and prayers, lead by Mother Jerome Schmitt, and told by our historians from a time much closer to celebration… 

“…By far the crowning point of Mother Jerome’s external accomplishments was the erection of the magnificent Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel which rose steadily, stone by stone, throughout the difficult war and post-war years of 1946 to 1950 and was solemnly consecrated in the spring of 1950. The Chapel stands not only as a monument to the saintly Bishop through whom God called the Benedictines to Dakota but also as a living symbol of the faith of a community” (Travelers on the Way of Peace, 1955).

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

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 construction, begun after frustrating delays, was nearing completion. With justifiable pride, she had watched the raising of the Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel which now crowned the cluster of building on the western elevation of the city of Yankton. It was something that…she had dreamed about at a time when realization seemed impossible. But, there was the stone steeple, rising to a height of 187 feet, directing heavenward the thoughts of motorists on Highway 50. This house of God was both artistic and functional: it was an imposing work of stone in modified Gothic design, which could take its place among thee architectural masterpieces of Europe.

“…The Most Reverend William O. Brady, assisted by five bishops, four abbots, and about 180 monsignori and priests from the Midwest carried out the colorful and symbolic ceremonies, which set apart forever this building for the sole purpose of giving glory to God…Bishop Brady in his closing remarks paid tribute to the pioneer members of the community and all members who had given reality to a dream of raising a fitting monument to the Provident of God, “under the shadow of Whose wings” the community had prospered” (Sr. Claudia Daratschek, Under the Shadow of His Wings, 1971).

“This is God’s holy temple, and we are the living stones. Let us bow down in prayer, singing God’s praises.”
~ Benedictus Antiphon, Anniversary of the Dedication of Bishop Marty Chapel

Father Thomas explained some of the Church teaching on how churches are dedicated through a special ceremony.  Then he shared some reflections on the meaning of this dedication for those who worship in those churches.


"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, 2014).


This dedication of a place apart for prayer alone also appears in the Rule of Benedict.  In Chapter 52, Benedict orders that the Monastery have an Oratory for the monks' and nuns' Work of God, their life of prayer...

Let the oratory be what it is called, a place of prayer; and let nothing else be done there or kept there. When the Work of God is ended, let all go out in perfect silence, and let reverence for God be observed, so that any sister who may wish to pray privately will not be hindered by another's misconduct. And at other times also, if anyone should want to pray by herself, let her go in simply and pray, not in a loud voice but with tears and fervor of heart...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sister Honored for her Service to Others

Greetings,

Join us in celebrating our Sister's recognition for living-out Saint Benedict's call to loving service:  "In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims the greatest care and solicitude should be shown, because it is especially in them that Christ is received" (Chapter 53).

On Thursday evening, July 23rd, Yankton Church Women United hosted The Banquet in the U.C.C church basement along with several Sisters from Sacred Heart Monastery. Before the dinner bell rang for guests, Sr. Eileen O’Connor was recognized for her contribution to the community by the YCWU receiving the 2015 Human Rights Award. Commenting on her experience, Sr. Eileen clarified what the mission of the YCWU means to her: “serve means the same as love”. This is evident in Sr. Eileen’s involvement in the Yankton Community, whether it’s serving as a Big Friend, as a volunteer at The Banquet, participating in Toastmasters, or lending a hand in any other way. She has also served for fourteen years within her Monastic Community as Sacred Heart Monastery’s Vocation Assistant, working with children, teenagers and adults.

Eight churches in Yankton are members of the YCWU, and more are certainly welcome. Christ the King Episcopal Church, Peace Presbyterian Church, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Sacred Heart Monastery, St. Benedict Catholic Church, Trinity Lutheran Church, United Church of Christ and United Methodist join together to host various events and give support to programs throughout the year. Nationally, CWU has been around for more than 70 years. In 1941, it was formed to encourage church women to come together in a visible fellowship to witness to their faith in Jesus Christ.For more information on various ministries Sacred Heart Monastery is involved in visit our ministry page.  For more information on the Yankton United Church Women.  (SHM Public Relations)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Silver Jubilee ~ Sister Maribeth

Greetings,

 Sister Maribeth celebrated her 25 years of religious profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton  on July 11 in the presence of her community, family and friends.

Maribeth was born in Huron, SD on January 16, 1966 to Robert (now deceased) and Marivonne as the youngest of five children. The family moved to Miller when Maribeth was seven and she now claims Miller as her home town. After graduation from Miller High School in 1984, Maribeth visited Mount Marty College and instantly fell in love with its aesthetic beauty and the friendliness of the people. As a student at Mt. Marty College she attended several retreats, all the time feeling God was nudging her in the direction of religious life. When at last she stopped fighting it, she was able to say “yes” to God with a sense of peacefulness. Maribeth entered Sacred Heart Monastery on August 23, 1987 as a single entrant and made her first monastic profession on January 16, 1990 on her birthday. Maribeth states she felt like she “grew up as a Benedictine” because most of her early formation at home pivoted around prayer, work (doing chores), and leisure with her whole family.

Maribeth feels much gratitude for the love and support of her many Sister friends who have walked the journey with her, “a crowd of one,” during her formation years in religious life. Like members of her family, Maribeth loves fishing and treasures the times Sisters join in with her at this sport.

After graduating from Mount Marty College in 1988, Maribeth taught at O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls until 1996. She became Director of Campus Ministry at Mount Marty College from 1996-2011 and from 2013 to the present, serving as monastery vocation director in the interval.

About her Jubilee, Maribeth writes: “These last 25 plus years have brought me such true joy and peace.  I know God drew me to these Benedictine women of Yankton so that we could multiply our gifts together for the sake of the Kingdom!  I am eager and ready for where God will call me in the next twenty five years.”

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Our Lady of Einsiedeln

Our Lady, the original 'Black Madonna',
 enshrined at the Abbey of Einsiedeln.
 Greetings,

Each year I pause to tell the same two stories.  It is an opportunity to share the Catholic heritage from our Swiss-Benedictine roots that traveled with us from the Alps to the Plains.

The earliest American Benedictine communities were mostly founded during the mid to late 1800's from a handful of monasteries in Germany and Switzerland.  Those monastic houses of Swiss descent honor their unique roots.  While the universal Church celebrates Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we honor Our Lady of Einsiedeln.

Within Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel, we have a side or transept chapel dedicated to our Swiss Lady.  For years, our Swiss and German sisters who worked in the embroidery dressed the Madonna and Child in elaborate gowns of the liturgical seasons.  Only later did we discover, like the original, her beautifully carved gown of red and gentle arm embracing the Child Jesus.

The story of Our Lady of Einsiedeln begins with Saint Meinrad, as story goes...

Our Lady of Einsiedeln shrine
in the transept of Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel
at Sacred Heart Monastery
In the 9th century, the monk St. Meinrad, of the family of the Counts of Hohenzollern, left one of the local monasteries to build a hermitage in the wilderness that would later become Einsiedeln. 

He took with him a miracle-working statue of the Virgin Mary given to him by  the Abbess Hildegarde of Zurich.  He soon became well-known in the local village for his kindness and holiness, and received many visitors and gifts.

On January 21, 861, two thieves murdered Meinrad for the treasure in his hermitage. According to legend, the murderers were apprehended after two ravens followed them into town and drew attention to them with loud squawking.

In 940, a small group of Benedictine monks transformed Meinrad's little hermitage into the Lady Chapel. The chapel is said to have been consecrated by Christ himself on September 14, 948. The bishop who was to consecrate the new site had a vision in which the church was filled with a brilliant light as Christ approached the altar; the next day, when he went to perform the ceremony, he heard a voice saying the chapel had already been divinely consecrated. The miracle was confirmed by Pope Leo VIII 16 years later in a papal bull.

St. Meinrad had the Black Madonna statue (its dark color traditionally explained by years of candle smoke) as part of his altarpiece; after his death it was placed in the Lady Chapel for veneration. Many miracles were attributed to the intercession of "Our Lady of Einsiedeln," and pilgrimages to Einsiedeln began shortly after 1000 AD (Sacred Destinations.com).

Our Lady of Rickenbach
in the pilgrimage chapel
at Maria Rickenbach.
Our monastery's foundresses came from Maria Rickenbach on a musenalp above the city of Niederbach.  As a part of the Swiss-American foundations, we continue to honor Our Lady of Einsiedeln.  However, our Swiss foundation house continues to welcome pilgrims seeking the intercession of Our Lady of Rickenbach who shares a similar story:

In 1528 as the Protestant Reformation swept across Switzerland, a great iconoclasm took place in which people seized and destroyed statues taken from Catholic churches. The reformers claimed that the statues were false idols, and that Catholics were worshiping the statues instead of God.

A shepherd boy saw a statue of Mary holding the child Jesus on her lap "lightly as if giving him to the world" rise undamaged from a bonfire. He rescued the statue and hid it high in the mountains in the hollow of a tree. The shepherd boy would pray the rosary before that statue inside the hollow of a tree as he tended his sheep.

Soon the townspeople learned of the boy's devotion and came to retrieve the statue and save it. But it wouldn't budge. Even the strongest men could not move it. So the people decided to build a shrine around it on that very spot.

People came from miles to walk up the mountain and to pray before the statue. The Benedictine monks from nearby Engelberg would care for the pilgrims, and soon an order of Benedictine sisters was established to care for both the site and the pilgrims who came to pray (Sr. Dawn Mills, BSPA).


On this day, we will remember you in our prayer.
May the faith-filled life and love of Our Lady guide and bless you.

Blessings,

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Golden Jubilee ~ Sisters Marielle and Janice

Greetings,

Sister Marielle celebrated her 50 years of religious profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton SD on July 11 in the presence of her community, family and friends.  S. Marielle was born on June 3, 1944, to the late John and Amalia as the youngest in a family of three girls and a boy. At the age of six she began classes in a rural school a half mile from her farm home, the same farm where her father had been born and raised, in Bow Valley, NE.  S. Marielle was one of three first graders and her teacher was her oldest sister. As a student at Mount Marty High School she came to know the Benedictine Sisters. Marielle feels she was attracted to religious life as long as she could remember.  There was that desire to know God and to develop a close relationship with God and to help others.  She finally succumbed to that desire when she entered Sacred Heart Convent in August, 1963.

As a Benedictine Sister, S. Marielle zealously shared her love of scripture and theology in 32 years of teaching religious studies at Mount Marty College. Her excellent resource book, Beginning Biblical Studies, is a valuable tool for all who seek to improve their knowledge of facts related to Biblical history and religious studies.

Reflecting on her entrance into religious life Marielle states, “I entered the
community less than a year after Vatican Council II began in October 1962.  As a result I lived through the tumultuous years of the later 1960s and early 1970s when United States culture, the Catholic Church and religious life were constantly undergoing monumental changes.   While that made it much more challenging to  discern and choose religious life, from today’s vantage point, I can see that the long and sometimes very difficult process of discerning and making a commitment to monastic life in such times made me much stronger in that commitment.  As St. Benedict tells us, monastic life requires lifelong, repeated transformations of life that will continue in years to come.”

Marielle made monastic profession on June 29, 1965, and now fifty years later she offers two quotations that summarize what that life means to her. The first is a familiar line from Scripture: “God’s faithful love endures forever.” The second is St. Benedict’s primary instruction to monastics:  “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ” (RB 4:21, 72:11).


Sister Janice celebrated her 50 years of religious profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD  on July 11 in the presence of her community, family and friends.  S. Janice, along with twin sister, Jean, grew up on a farm in the Dimock and Parkston area with twelve other siblings. Her parents, the late Peter and Clara, instilled in their children the love of church, family and farm life.

Janice attended school in Dimock where she was taught by Benedictine Sisters from Yankton.   After graduation she worked five years in the Parkston Hospital before entering Sacred Heart Convent in August of 1963. What surprised her at first in convent life, she says, was getting up so early as well as some of the food being served, like cereal for supper. After monastic profession in June 1965, S. Janice worked at the hospital in Tyndall for two years as nurse aide and as store room clerk before being assigned to Madonna Rehabilitation Home in Lincoln, Nebraska. At Madonna she worked six years as nurse aide, then  was asked to serve at St. Joseph Indian School in Chamberlain, SD. She returned to Madonna Home in Lincoln two years later in 1970  and was assigned  to Dietary as  Kitchen Supervisor and part time cook,  a position she held for 32 years until she retired to the monastery in 2006. S. Janice prefers to say she worked with the kitchen staff instead of supervising them.  She enjoyed the position and the people she helped very much. In 2005 S. Janice was honored with the Caring Kind Award at Madonna and was pleasantly surprised to see many of her family members present in Lincoln for the ceremony.   In retirement at the monastery S. Janice continues to help in assisting the Sisters in the Care Center and at activities whenever she can.

Looking back on her experience as a  Benedictine, S. Janice writes, “My life has become service for others.  Mostly this has been for the elderly throughout the many years at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and now at our monastery Care Center for the older Sisters. I could not have imagined the joy and satisfaction I have received through these years, I thank God for these many blessings.”

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Jubilee Celebration!

Greetings,

On the Feast of Saint Benedict, the Saturday celebration for our sister jubilarians honored their 25 and 50 years of faithfully upholding their Monastic Profession. 


Please pray for these sisters throughout their jubilee year, that God may bless them as they continue their lives of prayer, community, and service to the people of God.

Blessings,

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pray for us as we Pray for you ~ Community Retreat

Greetings,

Pray for us during our time of retreat; we shall keep you in our prayers.

This week all the sisters of our community are gathering at the monastery for retreat.  Usually, the sister who coordinates our on-going formation sets three separate weeks for retreat to accommodate our sisters varying schedules due to their ministry and service in different works of the Church. However, every five years (or so) the community gathers for one retreat.

This year Prior Mauritius Wilde, OSB  of Christ the King Priory will be our retreat director.  His conferences will focus on the value of detachment in the life of Saint Benedict and in our lives as Benedictine women.

This window is a icon of the Matins hour of prayer,
the wise virgins from Scripture representing
our waiting in prayer before the Lord Jesus.
Listen I (General Norms of our Federation) recognizes that "Benedictine formation is a lifelong process of daily conversion within a dynamic, monastic faith community.  The entire community is responsible, under the direction of the prioress, for the ongoing formation of all sisters.  The monastery fulfills this responsibility when it provides the environment for the sisters to share their life together in faith and to continue their own daily effort toward growth in Christ" (G111).


Listen II (Specific Norms of our Federation) reminds the prioress that "the Monastery Norms specifies the ways a monastery provides for the continuing spiritual development of its sisters, such as community renewal, annual retreats, days of recollection and other opportunities" (S129).

Our Listen III or Monastery Norms (specific to our monastic guidance) take all this into account and very simply states a list of items to support this continuing formation including "annual retreats" (M111.g).  Simple...However, this yearly week of retreat is so important within our monastic life that it is even written into our contracts so we that may set at least a week aside for personal and private prayer, reflection, and community.

Retreat allows for a deepening of relationship with God in the silence of our day, broken only by Father's conferences and our prayer, and through our personal prayer which supports our times of Liturgy of the Hours.  All this additional time in prayer reminds us to follow Saint Benedict's injunction on the oratory:

"Let the oratory be what is is called, a place of prayer; and let nothing else be done there or kept there.  When the Work of God is ended, let all go out in perfect silence, and let reverence for God be observed, so that any sister who may wish to pray privately will not be hindered by another's misconduct.  And that other times also, if anyone should want to pray by herself, let her go in simply and pray, not in a loud voice but with tears and fervor of heart.  She who does not say her prayers in this way, therefore, shall not be permitted to remain in the oratory when the Work of God is ended, lest another be hindered, as we have said" (Rule of Benedict 52).

Retreat Week Schedule (July 12-18)
for Liturgy of the Hours and Mass 
8:30 AM ~ Lauds
9:00 AM ~ Mass
5:15 PM ~ Vespers

Blessings,

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Feast of Saint Benedict

"Come let us join with the angels and saints
in offering thanks and praise to the Lord
on the solemnity of our Father Benedict."
Greetings and Happy Feast!

Today, we conclude a week of honoring Benedict in our monastic home and join the Church in celebrating Saint Benedict.

Our Sisters joined with employees and friends in celebrating the Feast of Saint Benedict.  Our week-long celebration included a morning coffee break for the sisters and employees with wide variety of wonderful treats and even a game.  One of our office employees recorded sounds from around the monastery and we were all tested on our listening skills.  This was a wonderful play off the Prologue of Benedict's Rule:  Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart" (Prologue: 1).  Even the responsory from our prayer reflects Benedict's call to listen:  "We listen to the words we hear God speak, a promise of life and light we seek: In love run ways we cannot clearly see until our hearts expand and set us free" (Lauds Responsory).  

Later in the week, our sisters from the Riverview living-group welcomed us to an afternoon break with root-beer floats!  This was in light of Benedict's call to "Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for He is going to say, 'I came as a guest, and you received Me'. And to all let due honor be shown, especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims" (Rule of Benedict 53: 1-2).  All our employees, from mechanic to nurse, and sisters gathered to laugh, tell tales of the day, and even win a few door prizes.  Playfully fulfilling our Lauds Antiphon to celebrate, "Let us rejoice! Rejoice in the Lord for a feast in honor of Benedict, at whose triumph the angels rejoice and give praise to the Son of God." 

As the Feast of Benedict falls upon a Saturday this year, we invited our employees to a Thursday 'Italian' lunch of lasagna or supper of pizza with us in the dinning room.  It was wonderful to see the refectory filled with our sisters, secretaries, maintenance folk, and all who help us in our daily living. But you might be wondering, why the Italian influence on the meals in this Benedictine community with Swiss-German roots in the midst of rural South Dakota?  To remember, to celebrate, and to honor Benedict's own heritage and that of our early monks and nuns within the Benedictine tradition, and to bring this feast to our employees and friends.

"...He was born in the province of Nursia [Italy], of honorable parentage, and brought up at Rome in the study of humanity.  As much as he saw many by reason of such learning fall to dissolute and a lewd life, he drew back his foot, which he had as it were now set forth into the world, lest, entering too far in acquaintance with it, he likewise might have fallen into that dangerous and godless gulf.

Therefore, giving over his book, and forsaking his father's house and wealth, with a resolute mind only to serve God, he sought for some place, where he might attain to the desire of his holy purpose.  In this way he departed [Rome] , instructed with learned ignorance, and furnished with unlearned wisdom" (Dialogues of Gregory the Great: Book Two: prologue).

The celebration of the Saint Benedict's feast itself began Friday evening with first vespers, chanted liturgy of the hours on the eve of the feast.  Marking the solemnity of our celebration, we started with statio, a formal procession into chapel.  It continues the Saturday morning with Lauds and then a new addition...  


This year, our sisters will be celebrating significant anniversaries on the Feast of Benedict.  We will honor Sister Maribeth, our Silver Jubilarian, and Sisters Janice and Marielle, Golden Jubilarians, during the Celebration of the Eucharist.  Among sisters, family, and friends, these three sisters will be lifted up in prayer as they renew their monastic profession of stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life, and obedience.  

"When she is to be received she promises before all in the oratory stability, fidelity to monastic life and obedience.  This promise she shall make before God and His Saints, so that if she should ever act otherwise, she may know that she will be condemned by Him whom she mocks.

Of this promise of hers let her draw up a document in the name of the Saints whose relics are there and of the Abbess who is present. Let her write this document with her own hand; or if she is illiterate, let another write it at her request, and let the novice put her mark to it. 

Then let her place it with her own hand upon the altar; and when she has placed it there, let the novice at once intone this verse: "Receive me, O Lord, according to Your word, and I shall live: and let me not be confounded in my hope" (Rule of Benedict 58: 17-21). 

Please pray for our sisters as they celebrate these important anniversaries in our monastic community.

"Let us love one another with fervent love, endure one another's infirmities; patiently serve and obey one another, and prefer nothing whatever to Christ." ~Vespers Antiphon

Blessings and Joy,

Friday, July 3, 2015

Mount Marty College Reunion: Tea & Treats with the Sisters

Sr. Marielle (front, left) and Sr. Cynthia (back, left)
visit with students and their families.
Greetings,

Srs. Rosaleen (far left), Aurthur (second from right),
and Phyllis (far right) gathered with their MM class...
Sr. Angeline (center) enjoying a break in their
laughter and stories with her high school
 classmates from 1948.
The end of June heralded Mount Marty College's All-Schools reunion.  Alumni from our school in all its forms from Mount Marty Academy, to Sacred Heart School of Nursing, and Sacred Heart Hospital School of Anesthesia, from Mount Marty High School, to Mount Marty Junior College, through Mount Marty College gathered at 'The Mount' for a weekend of tradition, remembering, and celebration.
Sr. Ann (center) with former history students
and their families.
Srs. Kevin (front left) and Jeannette (front right)
with former students and friends

Saturday afternoon, the sisters hosted a "tea & treats" in the Monastic Chapter room.  We joyfully opened our doors to the alumni, for the Rule of Benedict says "Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for He is going to say, "I came as a guest, and you received Me" (Matt. 25:35). And to all let due honor be shown, especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims" (chapter 53).

Our sisters have been and continue to be students, teachers, and professors at the college throughout the years.  The tea was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with friends and students from the ages. We weren't sure how many alumni to expect, but soon the room was filling with alumni waiting to share stories with the sisters.  As our sisters began to arrive, alumni would call them over to a group so they could introduce 'their teacher' or 'their classmate'.  Other sisters were welcomed with hugs and the beginning of a tall tale, "I remember when...." So many memories and so much joy to share, the laughter and voices filled our Chapter Room and spilled out into the halls, bringing in more sisters and alumni.  
Srs. Patricia Ann (front left) and
Corrine (back right) reconnecting
with students.

Over the years our sisters have sought the value of supporting education through every possible work in our school on 'The Mount': teachers, professors, presidents, maintenance, cooks, dorm resident assistants...  This service can be seen in Saint Benedict's call to manual labor: "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" (chapter 48).

There were no 'faint-hearted' on that joy-filled Saturday.  Only a lightness of spirit that celebrated our ministry of education and love for our students and friends.

Blessings,

Monday, June 29, 2015

May Perpetual Light Shine Upon Her ~ Sister Yvonne

To Paradise now may the angels bring you,
and may the martyrs now come to meet you on your way,
and may you be led into the holy city Jerusalem.
All the choirs of angels make you welcome there,
and with Lazarus once so ill and poor,
may peaceful joy be now forever yours.
~In Paradisum
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.

May Perpetual Light Shine Upon Her ~ Sister Stephanie

To Paradise now may the angels bring you,
and may the martyrs now come to meet you on your way,
and may you be led into the holy city Jerusalem.
All the choirs of angels make you welcome there,
and with Lazarus once so ill and poor,
may peaceful joy be now forever yours.
~In Paradisum

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, June 27, 2015

A Home for All God's Creatures: Pollinator Habitat

Greetings,

“In the United States, the pollinators which we depend on for the majority of our pollination services are bees, including the non-native European honeybee and over 4,000 species of native bees.  Evidence of population declines of bees, not only in the United States, but around the world, has prompted scientists to encourage changes in ecosystem management” (USDA).

As Benedictines we profess a vow of stability; we commit ourselves to living among members of one community in one place.  This promise ties us closely to the tradition of our monastic ancestors to care for and stewardship of the place where we live in community. Pope Francis shared this reflection in his encyclical Laudato si’ “We can also look to the great tradition of monasticism. Originally, it was a kind of flight from the world, an escape from the decadence of the cities. The monks sought the desert, convinced that it was the best place for encountering the presence of God. Later, Saint Benedict of Norcia proposed that his monks live in community, combining prayer and spiritual reading with manual labour (ora et labora). Seeing manual labour as spiritually meaningful proved revolutionary. Personal growth and sanctification came to be sought in the interplay of recollection and work. This way of experiencing work makes us more protective and respectful of the environment; it imbues our relationship to the world with a healthy sobriety” (126).

Last year, Sister Gardener began shifting parts of our monastic vegetable garden to pollinator habitat.  Seeking to support a pollinator population in distress, she planted this habitat.  It is filled with native prairie blooms and grasses which haven’t been sprayed with any insecticide or pesticide; in other words, our pollinator habitat is a safe home for the many little bees, wasps, butterflies, and insects here in the southeast corner of South Dakota.  The habitat includes: prairie grasses, prairie comb flower, gray comb flower, poppy, flaxes, sedum, prairie sunflower, red yarrow, black-eye susan, and mexican red-hat .

You might be wondering why we planted a pollinator habit. Our monastery is already surrounded by blooms: flower beds; an orchard filled with apple, apricot, plum, cherry, and pear trees; and a vegetable garden. Each of these is a wonderful source of pollen for the pollinators during their moment of blooming; however, this new habitat offers a stable diet of blooms and grasses that continue throughout the summer and fall.  This buffet of blooms and grasses also attracts a wider population and a greater number of pollinators for our gardens’ needs.

As the years progress, Sister Gardener plans to continue this slow shift from garden to habitat.  Encouraging these species that are native to our monastery grounds will take time.  It all begins with the ground being tilled and raked to break up the earth, and next a mixture of seeds is broadcast (sown) by hand over the dirt; then, we pray for rain. During the first year, the habitat looks a bit awful. The weeds grow faster than the newly sown flowers and grasses.  These quick growing weeds aren’t pulled out or doused with herbicide…the whole plot gets mowed!  The mower is placed on its highest setting and the weeds' leaves are shredded away leaving room for the newly sprouted grasses and flowers to peek through. Even by the end of the first season, the weeds seem to have won their rights to the plot of land, but the prairie habitat is a mix of perennial and self-seeding annual species.

The second year, the flowers sprout up quickly throughout the habitat.  They break into bloom and celebrate God’s cathedral of creation! The prairie grasses hidden below the abundant flowers slowly take deep root, over the next few years the grasses to spread and thin the flowers. Early each spring, Sister Gardener will mow the pollinator habitat.  Creating an area of land call a 'carbon sink' that will hold the carbon the plants take-in and store in the soil.  Soon after, the native plants spring to life in an abundance reflecting God's great blessings in Psalm 65:  You crown the year with Your bounty. Abundance flows in your pathways; in pastures of the desert it flows (12-13). The challenge of this beautiful habitat is reminding our sisters that it was planted for the pollinators alone! It is so tempting to pluck a bloom or two for the chapel or refectory, but each flower and grass needs to be left in place for bees and bugs.  Left in its beauty, the pollinator habitat is becoming a wonderful place of peace to wonder at all God's creation.

We invite you to consider supporting a pollinator habitat at your home too.
Here are seven ways to make your garden a haven for native pollinators:
1.     Use pollinator-friendly plants in your landscape. Shrubs and trees such as dogwood, blueberry, cherry, willow, and poplar provide pollen or nectar, or both, early in spring when food is scarce.
2.     Choose a mixture of plants for spring, summer, and fall. Different flower colors, shapes, and scents will attract a wide variety of pollinators. If you have limited space, you can plant flowers in containers on a patio, balcony, and even window boxes.
3.     Reduce or eliminate pesticide use in your landscape, or incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control. If you use pesticides, use them sparingly and responsibly.
4.     Accept some plant damage on plants meant to provide habitat for butterfly and moth larvae.
5.     Provide clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches.
6.     Leave dead tree trunks, also called “snags,” in your landscape for wood-nesting bees and beetles.
7.     Support land conservation in your community by helping to create and maintain community gardens and green spaces to ensure that pollinators have appropriate habitat.

Blessings,