Saturday, August 22, 2015

We've moved!


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


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


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!

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."
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"
IMG_2817 copy2
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


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


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


 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.

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.