The American Monastic Newsletter

Volume 42, Nr. 3, October 2011                              Richardton, ND 58652

Inside this issue:


Seek Peace and Pursue It

Canon Law Column

Guest Essay

Report from Kalamazoo

Monastic News

Junior Essay Contest

Film/TV Reviews

Egregia Award Nominations

Members, Sponsors, and Donors


AMN Online



ABA Index



Issue Contents


Cultivating the Sacred Space Apart

In the past several years, thousands of people of various walks of life and faiths, or no faith at all, have found their ways to monasteries as retreatants and guests. Books and articles describe the experiences of some. Advertisements in religious and secular media abound. As the world searches for peace and meaning, Benedictines have reached out and reminded people that they are present in the search, as they have been for centuries.

An organization called the Association of Benedictine Retreat Centers held its biennial meeting in Atchison, KS, at Mount St. Scholastica this summer. According to Sister Jeanne Ranek (Yankton, SD), its executive director, there are 37 monasteries in the US that have some kind of retreat center, and most of them are represented in the organization. Staff members from 21 of them were present at this year's meeting. Other members of the board are Abbot Leo Ryska (Benet Lake, WI), Sister Jean Maher (Duluth, MN), Sister Eleanor Suther (Atchison, KS), Sister Marilyn Schroering (Ferdinand, IN), and co-directors Sam Rahberg (St. Paul, MN) and Sister Carol Falkner (Beech Grove, IN).

Members believe that a Benedictine retreat center is distinctively different from other retreat facilities. For one thing, people are not merely going to a place but to a community. The opportunity to share in monastic common prayer, to be inspired by people who have committed themselves to spiritual growth, to be in a beautiful and reverent environment, to learn techniques of spirituality from those who practice them and have a rich and long tradition, are some of the reasons people give for their appreciation of Benedictine retreat centers.

"In a sense," says Sister Jeanne, "a monastery just provides the prayerful environment. We give them the ambience and then get out of their way to let them pray there." There is general agreement that this is important in a successful center, but organized programs help to draw people. As the number of retreat centers has increased across many denominations, programming has become more creative. Benedictine centers often focus on what is most natural to their charism, such as methods of contemplative prayer, arts-related experiences, and Scripture sharing. Hospitality demands that all types of persons be welcomed, and listening demands a gentle and prayerful environment where they can tell their stories, especially the struggles of those who are more marginal or less accepted within the culture.

Although many retreat centers are run by members of the monastic community, some have hired lay directors. Sam Rahberg, a graduate of Saint John's School of Theology and a Benedictine Oblate, directs the retreat ministry of the Benedictine sisters of St. Paul, MN. Says Sam, "In some ways, I am still a guest and the living community has to be the center, but I still feel that I am part of the monastic family. I see myself as contributing my gift to the sisters' more essential gift of presence and extending that outward to others."

Ministering to the many seekers who come is challenging work. The directors are grateful to have an organization in which they can share their experience. Sister Micaela Randolph (Atchison), who is leaving the board after her term, describes the directors' interaction. "This is where we have an opportunity to talk to each other and form a community among ourselves." Anyone who would like more information, as well as how to find a member retreat center, can go to the website <>.


OSB | ABA | Am Monastic Newsletter

The American Monastic Newsletter

Published in February, June and October

Judith Sutera OSB
Editor in Chief
Mount St. Scholastica
801 S. 8th Street
Atchison, KS 66002
Fax 913-367-3866

The Mission of the American Monastic Newsletter is to be an instrument of communication and information for Benedictine monasteries of North America and members of the American Benedictine Academy.

Submit any announcements or articles for publication in the American Monastic Newsletter to Judith.

Please submit any address changes for the American Monastic Newsletter to Renée.

Renée Branigan, OSB
Managing Editor
Sacred Heart Monastery
8969 Hwy 10 W, PO Box 364
Richardton, ND 58652-0364
Phone: 701-974-2121

Adel Sautner OSB
ABA Secretary
415 S. Crow St.
Pierre, SD 57501-3304

For all payments for membership, subscription or purchase of any American Benedictine Academy sponsored publications, or any other business, please contact the secretary of the Academy. This would include the ordering of the Proceedings or non-member, personal subscriptions to the American Monastic Newsletter. All checks should be made payable to the American Benedictine Academy and addressed to Adel.

The American Monastic Newsletter is published three times per year as a complimentary service to members of the American Benedictine Academy and its sponsoring communities. Others may receive a Newsletter for a donation of $5 per year to cover printing and postage. Sponsor monasteries may also order bulk copies (10 or more to same address) at a special rate of $3 per year.


Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional
© Copyright 2011 by ABA / Webweaver /