Reflecting on our Sacred Tradition of Ministry and Service
Rooted in Cullman for over a century, the Benedictine Sisters have joyfully witnessed to God's presence and love by responding to the needs of people throughout our diocese and beyond. Deeply steeped in the Roman Catholic tradition, the Sisters' ministry transcends the parish or denomination, and reaches out to all with the love of God that is evidenced by their lives and manifested in their works.
Below, following a letter of support from Bishop Robert Baker of the Diocese of Birmingham, we share with you the words of some who have been impacted by the ministry of the Sisters. We invite you to return as testimonies are rotated regularly. Please visit our archive page to view previously posted testimonies.
The Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, Alabama, have generously served the Diocese of Birmingham and the churches here for more than one hundred and eight years. I join all in the Diocese of Birmingham who have been served by the Sisters in a variety of apostolates through the years, in thanking them for the faith, enthusiasm, and dedication they have brought to the cause of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ here in the State of Alabama.
I feel strongly that the long range plans for the renovation and renewal of Sacred Heart Monastery will place the Benedictine Community in a position to continue the tradition of genuine service long into the future.
Please add your personal thanks to mine by supporting the Capital Campaign being launched for renovations of Sacred Heart Monastery. Your generosity will result in the prayerful gratitude of the Benedictine Sisters and myself.
Most Reverend Robert J. Baker, S.T.D.
Catholic Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama
Holy Spirit Parrish, and Tuscaloosa, have been singularly blessed by God with presence of the Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart as they lived and worked among us. In 1931, they came to Tuscaloosa to work with our schools and continued to provide leadership for many years; they organized and administered our Catholic Charities ministry, led us to a deeper prayer life, and consoled us in our times of grief and sorrow.
In addition, they continue to offer unique opportunities for times of prayer and healing at the nearby retreat center located in Cullman.
Mary A. Jolley
I first remember Sacred Heart as a young boy taking piano lesson from Sister Anastasia. Although I didn’t pursue piano lessons very long, it did reinforce my mother’s love for music in my life. Sister’s strong emphasis to detail in practice was a positive influence as I learned to play the trumpet, and continued to play through college.
Later my experience was with the junior college through my wife Dean’s teaching there. I go t to know the Sisters and other personnel and learned of their dedication to educate their students. Their approach was always very professional, based on sound principles and modern teaching methods. Most importantly, they had respect for each student.
Additionally, as I became involved in local government activities as an elected official, I realized what a positive effect Sacred Heart had on Cullman. Their voice on moral issues is important, and they speak with conviction, yet with understanding that there may be differences of opinions. They have retreats on a multitude of topics to benefit local residents and out of town visitors. Sacred Heart contributes to our local economy through purchases from local businesses, and their many retreats bring hundreds of people to Cullman who spend money for food, gasoline, and other goods and services.
Cullman is a better place because of Sacred Heart.
Donald E. Green, PhD
Former Mayor of Cullman, Alabama
I came to Sacred Heart Monastery for the first time in November 1981 and was made to feel so welcomed that I knew I was a part of the life of the Benedictine Sisters in Cullman, Alabama.
My introduction to the Benedictine Sisters began when Sister Mary McGehee invited me to a Gathering of the Catholic Committee of the South tell of the works we were doing in Birmingham and the surrounding areas. I was put on the spot when I stepped through the door. I did not know what to expect when I was invited to go to Cullman of ALL places.
My mother questioned my going to a place where people of color had not been welcomed. My mother remembered the horror stories of bad treatment we received when the bus stopped there in the past. She gave me the following advice: If you wake up and see something burning, jump out of the window and I’ll meet you half way. I am so glad I went to Cullman; I had such a wonderful experience that I have only missed two such gatherings since 1981.
The Sisters open their home to people of ALL races and allow them to have a safe space to work on issues that hurt all people no matter where they live. I learned that the issues were the same no matter where you lived, but was happy to know that Birmingham was not the only place people were working on their own behalf. I met people from all over the Southeast, the Philippines, Hawaii, and Mexico. I was able to share in their cultural exchanges and beliefs. I learned that we had much in common.
The grounds and sanctuary of the monastery are a sight to behold. One does not easily forget savoring the peaceful surroundings, walking by the lake, sitting and watching the ducks, or enjoying the beautiful flowers on the tables taken from the Sisters’ own gardens.
I have brought young children, teenagers, and adults of all races each year to Sacred Heart and the experience was one of awe because they had never been away from the streets of the city and did not know places actually existed where you could be one with nature and enjoy the beauty of country life.
The buildings are worth saving because of their rich history to the local community and their humanity to all people. Sacred Heart has healed and brought more people together to sit, eat, and talk together about what could be done if we all worked together for the good of our neighbors.
Sacred Heart Monastery MUST remain a place where everyone is welcome. There have been some things that needed repairs for a long time but the Sisters made light of them and made you feel welcome when the water was scalding hot or when it was cool.
I recommend highly the renovations to the Sisters’ property because it is a beacon shining in the darkness letting the Love of God shine through. I will do my share to move the renovation along.
Thank you, Sisters, for opening your doors and showing love to my family all these years.
Please visit this page again as testimonies are rotated regularly!
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