The American Monastic Newsletter

Volume 42, Nr. 1, February 2011               Richardton, ND 58652

Inside this issue:

President's Message

Canon Law Column

Seek Peace

Monastic News Omnibus

Grey Yellow Pages


Coming Events

Book Reviews

Monastic Studies Grants



AMN Online



ABA Index



Issue Contents



Building mutual support and planning for the future are important for any group or institution, and Benedictine women are no exception. Nearly one hundred Benedictine women who are under age fifty-six came together at Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, KS, at the end of January from monasteries across the country.

Although there have been smaller regional meetings in the past, this is the first time such a nationwide gathering from all Benedictine monasteries has been held. After a previous conference for the Federation of St. Scholastica, a planning committee was formed to prepare the next one. Sister Bridget Dickason of Atchison, with her committee of Sisters Vicki Ix (Bristow, VA), Catherine Martinez (Tulsa, OK), Elisabeth Meadows (Cullman, AL) and Colleen Quinlivan (Ridgely, MD) recognized the need to cross the boundaries of federations. “As we deal with smaller numbers and a need for cooperation among communities, it is important that we get to know each other better and network with one another,” explains Sister Bridget. Sister Patricia Nyquist (Clyde, MO), prioress general of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, affirms this. “It’s easy to get isolated in our own communities. A meeting like this is a source of energy and excitement for the sisters.”

Sister Ephrem Hollermann (St. Joseph, MN) began the conference by sharing stories about the struggles of the early sisters of each of the European founding communities. She noted the many similarities in their experiences and the determination with which they met the circumstances that confronted them. Her comments helped to form an atmosphere of commonality among the participants. “When we get to know each other and how similar we are, we can draw strength from one another for the future,” observed Sister Jodelle Zimmerman (Yankton, SD) Sister Catherine Martinez was encouraged by the example of “these women who were faithful to a vision no one of them could really see at the time.”

They also listened to speakers both from their leadership and from among their own peers, who presented them with a message of both hope and challenge for the many changes that are occurring in religious life. The leaders of all four monastic groupings gave a panel presentation. Sister Patricia was joined by federation presidents Sisters Glenna Smith (Bristow, VA) of the Federation of St. Scholastica, Joella Kidwell (Ferdinand, IN) of the Federation of St. Gertrude, and Susan Hutchens (Rock Island, IL) of the Federation of St. Benedict. According to Sister Joella, “It is easy for a community to get ‘encrustations’ and our younger members teach us to let go and live into an unknown future.” Sister Susan challenged them to imagine themselves doing things differently than in the past, addressing the tensions of action and contemplation and facing a changing monastic landscape.

They heard the impressions of a panel of peers, which included Sisters Molly Brockwell (Atchison, KS), Nicole Kunze (Bismarck, ND), Jennifer Mechtilde Horner (Beech Grove, IN) and Sophia Becker (Clyde, MO).  Raised in post-Vatican II contemporary culture, these women have chosen to take up the monastic way of prayer, community and service to others, and continue to see the value of lifelong religious commitment. Sister Karen Joseph (Ferdinand, IN) gave the inspiring final session, her meditation on St. Benedict’s instruction, “Never lose hope in God’s mercy.”

The message and the tone of the conference indeed was a strong reflection of its title “United in Hope.” “History assures us,” said Sister Glenna, “that Benedictines are going to be all right. Although sometimes we have to give way to God’s plan, we will still offer living models of women who were once strangers coming together to live in peace and harmony.” By sharing the challenges, seeing the common experiences, and drawing upon the hope and vision of many others, these hundred sisters look forward to continuing the Benedictine way of life into a bright future.


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Judith Sutera OSB
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