Community News






August 2017



A cottage industry, from the ground up

August 12, 2017


A few years ago, Sister Jane began taking advantage of the bounty provided each year from the many pecan trees around the monastery.  She spent countless hours gathering pecans from aross the grounds, and then, with the help of a few Sisters, prepared them for use in baked goods the monastery kitchen.  Eventually she was gathering pecans from other sites around Cullman where she obtained permission to gather.


This past year, Sister Jane set her sights higher and began to consider the possibility of expanding her pecan project into a bona fide cottage industry.  She took the State of Alabama's Cottage Industry course and is now certified to sell roasted pecans.  An additional permit allows her to sell shelled pecans. 


Last week, Sister Jane made her first sales to the public.  The venture was so successful that she sold out of her entire supply within a couple of days.  But it is almost Fall, the pecans will soon be ready for gathering, and another season of Sister Jane's Heavenly Oven-Roasted Pecans cottage industry will be underway. 


Above, Sister Jane (right) with Sister Treva sell pecans.  Below, Sister Jane with one of the monastery's pecan trees.





Community holds annual summer meetings

August 1, 2017


This past week saw the community gathered for their annual summer meetings. During this time together, the Sisters received updates on their various ministrires, discussed the business aspects of their life together, planned for the future, and heard from experts on topics pertinant to their life in monastic community.   There was also plenty of time for recreation and sharing time together as a monastic family.


At right, Sr. Tonette exhorts the community as the meetings conclude. Below are additional photos from the week. 
























































































































































































































































Benedictine 'summer school'

August 1, 2017


Summertime is the season when many Benedictine organizations hold their annual or biennial meetings, and when other special programs are held.  Such programs have drawn several Sisters to locations ranging from North Dakota to Florida over the past couple of months. Among our recent travels are the following journeys in support of our continuing formation and deepening in the Benedictine way of life.



In July, Sisters Mary, Magdalena, Michelle Renee, and Minona Anne attended the Wisdom Connections - T4 Symposium at St. Leo University in St. Leo, FL.  The Symposium gathered Sisters in Initial Formation and their formators from around the country.  T4 is a program that utilizes technology to enhance the formation of new Sisters and to provide an opportunity for regular connections between Sisters in different monasteries.  Sisters Michelle Renee and Minona Anne both participate in formation groups.  Sister Magdalena serves on the Content Committee for the program.  (Above, left to right, Sisters Michelle Renee, Magdalena, Mary, and Minona Anne)







Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, people standing




Sister Michelle spent three weeks in July at Annunciation Monastery in Bismarck, ND, where she attended the Benedictine Spirituality Workshop and Retreat, a program for those preparing to make Perpetual Monastic Profession.   Sister MIchelle is depicted at far left in this picture of the 2017 BSWR participants.














Also in July, Sister Therese attended the biennial meeting of the Monastic Worship Forum, held at Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas.   The theme was Celebrating the Liturgical Year and the featured presenter was Fr. Michael Joncas.








In late June, Sisters Tonette, Priscilla, Marian, Karen Ann, Elisabeth, and Sara Aiden attended a workshop/presentation by Michael Casey, OCSO, entitled Monasticsim in the 21st Century: A View From the Trenches.  The presentation was held at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, IN.









In June, Sisters Tonette, Lynn Marie, Karen Ann, Therese, and Elisabeth attended the Federation of St. Scholastica Pre-Chapter held at St. Leo University at St. Leo, FL.  The gathering was comprised of Prioresses and Delegates from all the member monasteries of the Federation.  With the goal of setting the agenda for next year's quadrennial Chapter, the delegates worked with the Pre-Chapter theme of Facing Forward with Hope.  The main presenter was Sister Edith Bogue, O.S.B, of Saint Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, MN.  Representing Sacred Heart Monaster was Sister Tonette, Prioress, and Sisters Karen Ann and Elisabeth, Delegates. Sister Lynn Marie chaired the meeting in her role as Federation President.  Sister Therese assisted with many technical aspects of the meeting.   (Above, left to right, Sisters Karen Ann, Elisabeth, Tonette, Lynn Marie, and Therese)






July 2017



Sister Priscilla elected President of Oblate Directors organization

July 19, 2017


Sister Priscilla Cohen, Oblate Director for Sacred Heart Monastery, is currently attending the biennial meeting of the North American Association of Benedictine Oblate Directors (NAABOD). The meeting is being held at St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, MN.  During the conference, Sister Priscilla was elected to a four-year term as President of the organization.


Sister Priscilla has been active in the organization for quite a number of years, and since 2011 has served as Executive Secretary/Treasurer on the Administrative Team of NAABOD.  The organization, which traces its roots back to 1948, exists to provide ongoing formation for Oblate Directors and Associate Directors, and to provide a forum for discussion and discernment of questions related to Oblate programs.


In the photo above, Sister Priscilla (right) is installed as President of NAABOD.


Congratulations, Sister Priscilla!





Summer Issue of Benedictine Update available for on-line reading

July 19, 2017


Our community has been busy and active over the past few months.  You can read about it in the summer issue of Benedictine Update, published and mailed in June, and available here for on-line reading.



A few highlights from the issue:


  • The inspiration that we recieve from the Benedictine Medal
  • Our graced moment of listening
  • Sister Virginia's Jubilee
  • Our 'old/new' tabernacle lamp
  • Sister Therese's appointment as Archivist, and Sr. Mary Ruth's retirement from the position
  • The latest on our Scholastics' course of study for Initial Monastic Formation
  • And many news briefs and other reports of our activities over the past few months


Enjoy the read!









February 2017




+ Sister Bertha True, O.S.B., 1928-2017

February 1, 2017


The monastic community is mourning the death of Sister Bertha True, O.S.B., who died on January 30, 2017.  Reception of the Body followed by Vespers will be Thursday, February 2, at 4:45 P.M. The Mass of Christian Burial will be Friday, February 3, at 3:00 P.M. 


Even as we mourn, we celebrate with great fondness the memory of Sister Bertha's life.  A copy of Sister Bertha's obituary can be read here






december 2016


Celebrating Christmas...

December 27, 2016


The Sisters are enjoying a wonderful celebration of Christmastide, beginning with First Vespers of Christmas on Saturday evening and continuing into these days of the Octave of Christmas.  The chapel and monastery have been resplendent with the beauty of the season. The liturgical celebrations have been marked by both solemnity and festivity as the remembrance of our Savior's birth leads us both to pause with awe and to rejoice in celebration. Below are images from our celebration of this holy season.






Nearly every nook and cranny of the monastery has been decorated for Christmas, from grand displays in public parlors to tiny corners of festive cheer.
































Sister Tonette Sperando, Prioress, addressed our employees at our annual Employee Chrismas Luncheon, thanking them for their immeasurable contribution to our lives and ministries.





Below, Sisters and employees linger in conversation following the luncheon. 



































Sister Michelle helps decorate around the altar on the afternoon of Christmas Eve while Sister Lynn Marie and Sister Therese rehearse their cantor parts and Sister Elisabeth practiced her flute. 
































Meanwhile in the kitchen, Sister Bernadette oversaw preparations for Christmas dinner festivities.  Here she checks her signup list of the Sisters who volunteered for the many aspects of meal preparation and clean-up. 





































Following a festive Mass of Christmas Day, the community enjoyed a celebratory meal.  In these photos, Sister Benita (above) preps the serving line, Sister Janet Marie (right) prepares the gravy, Sisters Regina and Mary Adrian (below) set out condiments and side dishes, and Sister Eileen readies the pies for serving. 













































Gifts from our name-drawn gift-swap lined the dining room Christmas tree.  Sisters enjoyed visiting together prior to the meal. 




























And more Christmas scenes from around the monastery...





Sisters Mary Adrian, Minona Anne, Marie, and Madeline enjoy a moment with Santa and with each other on 2nd Ottilia.

















The dining room Christmas tree awaits the gift exchange.  Sister Sara Aiden is also "aglow" with anticipation for this traditional Christmas afternoon community gathering.













































































































The joy experienced by the community in celebrating together the birth of our Lord was centered in the Eucharistic liturgies of Christmas and in the Divine Office, liturgical celebrations that set the tone for our Christmas joy - a joy that flowed throughout the day and that ever animates our monastic life.   






november 2016


Giving thanks...

November 24, 2016


The Sisters are enjoying a quiet afternoon today following a festive Eucharistic Liturgy this morning and a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner.  Several guests joined us for the liturgy and dinner.


The celebration began with a Vigil last evening in the monastery chapel, with Sr. Tonette Sperando, Prioress, offering a reflection for the gathered community. In her reflection, Sr. Tonette gave thanks for God's providence and guidance in the life of our community, and spoke of our call to respond in faith to God's fidelity.  You may read her reflection here.



Below are a few pictures from preparation of today's Thanksgiving dinner. 





















































october 2016




Sisters receive visit from dear friends, are presented with copy of special book

October 15, 2016



Yesterday, the Sisters were blessed by the visit of Benny and Anne LaRussa, long-time friends of the monastic community.  The LaRussa's presented to the community a copy of a newly-published book authored by Anne entitled The Knitter


In the photographs at right and below, the LaRussa's present the book to Sister Mary Ruth Coffman, Mrs. LaRussa and Sister Mary Ruth discuss the book, and Mr. LaRussa explains to Sr. Karen Ann a few details about the cover of the work.


































Sisters attend Intercultural Ministry workshop at Cathedral

October 15, 2016


This past week, five Benedictine Sisters attended a dioesan-sponsored workshop at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Birmingham entitled Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers.  The workshop was led by Mar Munoz-Visoso, Executive Director of the Secretariat for Cultural Diversity of the USCCB. 


During the course of the day, the Sisters enjoyed not only the program content but also the opportunity to visit with Priests,

Deacons, Religious, and other ecclesial ministers from around the diocese.


Two of the five attendees, Sisters Margaret Mary and Minona Anne, are also participating in a related six-week course sponsored by the USCCB and the University of Notre Dame.  Entitled The Intercultural Church: Theological Foundations and Pastoral Practices, they are part of a cohort of ecclesial ministers from around the Diocese of Birmingham who are participating in the on-line course, of which the day-long workshop in Birmingham was a part. 


Left to right, Sisters Sara Aiden Burress, Margaret Mary Liang, Minona Anne D'Souza, Elisabeth Meadows, and Marie Leonard.







Oblates of Sacred Heart Monastery gather for annual retreat

October 15, 2016


The Oblates of Sacred Heart Monastery gathered at the Benedictine Sisters Retreat Center this past weekend for their annual retreat. 


Sister Judith Sutera, OSB, of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atichson, KS, led the Oblates in their reflections, speaking on the topic of Stability of the Heart


During the Oblation Ceremony at Vespers on Saturday evening, twenty four Oblates renewed their Oblation, Cindy Roff and Cathy Randolph enrolled as Oblate Candidates, and Dale Shedd made his Final Oblation. Three individulas also attended the retreat as Inquirers. 


Photos from the weekend can be found here





September 2016




Celebrating with our brother monks at St. Bernard Abbey

September 29, 2016


The Sisters of our community have attended several celebrations at St. Bernard Abbey in recent days as the St. Bernard community has marked their 125th anniversary.  We rejoice over their fidelity to God and to monastic life, and are grateful for their many years of freindship with our community. 


In the photo above, Sister Tonette Sperando, Prioress, visits at base of the stairs with Cullman Mayor Max Townson and his wife at the dedication and blessing of St. Bernard's newly-renovated library. Below are other pictures from Sisters' attendance at the library dedication this past Sunday where we enjoyed visiting with friends from both St. Bernard and around the Cullman community.






































Clockwise from above left: Sister Magdalena and

Sister Regina await the start of the ritual. Sister Treva visits with a friend, Sister Virginia catches up with an acquainance from out of town, and Sister Bentita follows the progam during the ceremony.






At left, Sister Eleanor Harrison stands before a large ceremic crucifix that immediately draws the gaze of those entering the building.  The crucifix was made in the 1950's by Sister Eleanor's brother, Fr. Timothy Harrison, O.S.B., a monk of St. Bernard Abbey.  The work of art has been out of public view for decades and now enjoys a prominent place at the landing of the central staircase.   It was blessed by Abbot Cletus Meagher, O.S.B., during the ceremony.





Sister Tonette is featured speaker at Catholic school Family Faith Night program

September 29, 2016


Sister Tonette Sperando, Prioress, recently spoke to around 200 parents of students attending St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Madison, AL.  The event was held in conjunction with a Family Faith Night event sponsored by the school. 


Sister Tonette spoke on awesome role of parents in nurturing the future of the Church.  Acknowledging the chaotic times in which we live, Sister noted the importance of giving witness to love, "the greatest gift we can give to our children and our world."   Sister also highlighted the essential partnership that exists between the school, parents, and Sacred Tradition, noting in particular the strong tradition of excellent Catholic education that has been established at St. John's as they celebrate their 20th anniversary.  The inspiring talk was very well recieved by the parents.   (Photo courtesy of St. John the Baptist Catholic School)



Sisters celebrate with St. Florian parish

September 25, 2016


On Sunday, September 18, seven Benedictine Sisters traveled to St. Florian, Alabama, to celebrate with the parishioners of St. Michael's Catholic Church the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of their church.  Sister Tonette Sperando, Prioress, was joined by Sisters Emilie Schmitt, Jane Bishop, Mary Adrian McLean, Bernadette Sachs, Benita Peters, and Karen Ann Lortscher as they marked our long-standing ties with the St. Florian parish by their presence at the celebration. 


St. Michael's is a parish with which the Sisters have had a strong connection since the earliest years of our community's founding.  Numerous Sisters have taught in St. Florian or in nearby Florence over the years, and several Sisters are natives of St. Florian or nearby towns, including current community members Sister Mary Grace Mecke and Sister Mary Vincent Beckman.


In recent years, the parishioners of St. Michael's Church have extended extraordinary generosity to the Sisters at Christmas time when they arrive bearing carloads of gifts in many forms.  The Sisters are always touched by and most grateful for their generosity, and are especially grateful for the opportunity to visit and renew long-standing ties of Christian fellowship and service. 




Above, the Sisters with Abbot Cletus Meagher, OSB, Principal Celebrant of the Anniversay Mass, Rev. John O'Donnell, OSB, Interim Pastor of St. Michael's, and others who served in the liturgy. At right, the congregation.


Photos courtesy of St. Michael's Catholic Church.



Sister Treva and Sister Priscilla attend conference

September 21, 2016



Sister Treva Heinberg (above right) and Sister Priscilla Cohen (below right) attended the annual gathering of Benedictine Subprioresses and House Coordinators September 8-13, 2016 at Immaculata Monastery in Norfolk, Nebraska. Eighteen Benedictine monasteries were represented throughput the United States and Canada.


The theme of the conference was “The Paschal Christ in the Rule of St. Benedict” presented by Sister Marielle Frigge, O.S.B. of Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, South Dakota. Sister Marielle paralleled the major images of Jesus as Father, Teacher, Shepherd, Healer, and King with St. Benedict’s same images of the Abbot/Prioress in his Rule. Through prayerful reflection of various Scriptural passages and excerpts from the Rule of St. Benedict, participants reflected on their roles of support to the Prioress and loving service to the community.

Participants joined the Missionary Benedictines for daily prayer and Eucharist. A field trip to Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park to view ancient fossils and to join the Norfolk Sisters for a picnic at their cabin was an enjoyable experience.

Next year, this annual gathering will be held in Cullman, hosted by the Sacred Heart community.  Sisters Treva and Priscilla will spearhead the planning of the conference.



Sisters attend annual policy meeting on issues affecting the poor

September 14, 2016


On Saturday, September 10, Sister Michelle St. Marie and Sister Minona Anne D'Souza represented the monastic community at the annual meeting of Alabama Arise, a statewide coalition of churches and other organizations concerned for the poor, of which the community is a member.  The coalition seeks to promote state policies that improve the life of the poor.  The two Sisters attended on behalf of the monastic community's Peace and Justice committee.  At the meeting, which was held in Montgomery, they particiapted in setting the organization's legislative priorities for the coming year.  Sister Minona Anne reported, "It was a very productive day with alot of hard work behind the scenes for a great cause - so that the needy can benefit and the dignity of the voiceless and forgotten be maintained.





Sister Lynn Marie attends audience with the Holy Father; receives greeting from Pope Francis

September 10, 2016


Sister Lynn Marie McKenzie was privileged to be among a group of Benedictine leaders from around the world for a special audience held for the group with the Holy Father, Pope Francis. In his remarks to the Benedictines, the Holy Father described monasteries as "oases of the spirit, where clergy and the lay faithful can dip into the springs of divine mercy.” 


The Pope greeted each of the attending Benedictines individually.  In greeting Sister Lynn Marie, Pope Francis said to her, in English, "Pray for me."  Sister Lynn reports, "It was a privileged moment... He was everything you have seen of him – joy-filled, genuine, lovely."  A Vatican report on the meeting can be found at this link.  


Sister Lynn Marie is in Italy for three weeks.  First, she attended the annual conference of the Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum (CIB), the official body representing women Benedictines around the world.  Sister Lynn represents the United States as one of two U.S. delegates to CIB.  Since the conclusion of the CIB conference, Sister Lynn has been present as an official observer at the quadrennial Congress of Abbots.  

In addition to the audience with Pope Francis and attendance at these two significant international gatherings, Sister Lynn has also been able to meet with other Benedictines and Religious in both official and informal settings, and has enjoyed excursions to religious sites such as the catacombs of Rome. 





Sister Lynn with Abbot Gregory Polan of Conception Abbey in Missouri. During the Congress of Abbots, Abbot Gregory was elected to the position of Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Order, the titular head of all Benedictines, a promoter of unity amongst Benedictine monasteries around the world, and the official representative of the Order to the Vatican. Congratulations, Abbot Primate Gregory!



A fond farewell to a faithful partner in ministry

September 7, 2016


After ten years of faithful ministry on the staff of Benedictine Manor, Sister Barbara Gallagher, O.S.F., has retired from service at the Manor and will be returning to the motherhouse of her Franciscan community.  Sister Barbara first joined the Manor staff in September, 2006, when she took on the role of Assistant Director, serving first with Sister Cecilia MacDermott, O.S.B., and then with Sister Virginia Rohling, O.S.B., during their terms as Director.  Most recently she has served as a volunteer staff member with Sister Veronica Ryan, O.S.B., and Sister Therese Haydel, O.S.B., in their roles as Director and Assistant Director.


Tonight, the monastic community took time to thank Sister Barbara for her years of faithful ministry alongside us.  Following Vespers and dinner, Sister Tonette Sperando, Prioress, offered words of thanks, and the community joined her in offering a blessing to Sister Barbara as she returns to her motherhouse.  Sister Tonette presented her with a memento of her time spent ministering amongst Benedictines - a commemorative woven throw featuring an image of Sacred Heart Monastery.


Above, Sister Tonette (left) presents a parting gift to Sister Barbara.  Below, Sister Barbara shares some reflective thoughts with the community, and the two Sisters admire the woven throw. 





Labor Day at Sacred Heart

September 5, 2016


The Sisters began this civic holiday with prayer, gathering for Lauds followed by Mass. They then turned their attention toward preparations for an indoor picnic lunch complete with indoor games.  Below is a selection of pictures from the day.






















At left, Sister Sherrie keeps the grill hot while above Sister Regina keeps the homemade ice cream cold.  Sister Bernadette (not pictured) oversaw meal preparations. 











Sister Virginia (left) and Sister Karen Ann visit while awaiting the meal blessing. 


















Sister Kathleen (left) and Sister Magdalena trade notes on books they have been reading. 














After lunch, an indoor game drew the attention of many.

















Sister Mary (right) and Sister Eileen watch as Sister Tonette takes her turn at trying to remove a bar without letting a ball drop.




Below, Sister Therese strategizes her next move.




























Sister Eleanor puts her geometry-teaching years to good use in assessing the angles while Sister Sherrie holds things steady.


















On the other side of the dining room, Sister Michelle tries to keep the last few balls in place as Sister Marian (left) and Sister Brigid watch.















Below left, Sister Cecilia (left) and Sister Benita enjoy the moment.  Below right, Sister Margaret Mary gets a new round started after rebuilding the structure.  



august 2016



Sisters attend Election Facilitator training

August 31, 2016


Four Sisters from the Sacred Heart community recently traveled to St. Walburga Monastery in Elizabeth, NJ, to participate with about 20 other Benedictines in a two-day training sponsored by the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses.  The purpose of the training was to prepare attendees to facilitate the discernment and election process for the election of Prioress in Benedictine communities.  While in New Jersey, the St. Walburga community treated participants to an evening at nearby Liberty State Park where they were able to enjoy a view of the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline.


Above: Sisters Tonette Sperando, Priscilla Cohen, Elisabeth Meadows, and Lynn Marie McKenzie participated in the training.





Two Sisters attend national gathering of leaders

August 24, 2016


Earlier this month, Sister Tonette Sperando and Sister Lynn Marie McKenzie joined nearly 800 leaders of women's religious communities and congregations from around the country at the annual meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.  A key theme of the gathering was the importance of a contemplative stance when actively engaging with the struggles of the world.  At the meeting, the two Cullman Sisters were able to connect with leaders of a wide variety of religious congregations and also with other Benedictines. Pictured below are some of the Benedictine leaders who attended the conference. 


Sister Tonette attended in her role as Prioress, and Sister Lynn Marie in her role as President of the Federation of St. Scholastica.
























Summer Benedictine Update available for online reading

August 24, 2016


The summer issue of Benedictine Update was mailed earlier in the season. A pdf version is available at this link for online viewing.   If you would like to be on our mailing list, please contact the Development Office and let us know your name and contact information.   We would be grateful to count you among our friends!



A summertime summary...

August 7, 2016



Summertime activities for the Sisters have ranged from retreat to recreation, from school to special projects, from the simple joy of blowing bubbles on the back porch to the seriousness of discussing the business of the monastery, with all of it anchored - as always - in the steady monastic rhythm of work and prayer.  Along the way we have said goodbye to two cherished Sisters whom God called home, and celebrated with two Jubilarians. 


Below is a summary of some of our summertime activities.  Following the summary are stories on the Jubilarians and on our two Sisters who recently went to God.







In early August, the community hosted Sister Michelle Sinkhorn, O.S.B., of Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, IN.  Sr. Michelle gave presentations to the Sisters on an inter-community Benedictine formation and education effort, Wisdom Connections: Timeless Tradition - Technological Times. The effort, which is designed to enhance access to the wisdom and scholarship of Benedictine leaders from around the world, is geared especially toward Sisters in Initial Formation and their formation directors.  A key component of the program is to connect, via video conferencing, newer members of monastic communities from different geographic areas.


Sister Michelle gave a comprehensive overview of the project to all Sisters who wished to come, and a more in depth explanation of the techology involved to those who may be working with either the formation or technological aspects of the project. The Benedictine Sisters of Cullman are new participants in the collaborative effort, which is now in its third year. 



During the last week in July, the Sisters had their annual retreat, led this year by Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., of Mount Angel Monastery in Oregon, who spoke on the theme of Resurrection.  During the week of retreat, the Sisters took turns sitting vigil with Sister Mary Jude, who went home to God on the Thursday of retreat, giving her Sisters a living witness of looking with hope toward the resurrection.


In this photo, Sister Tonette, Prioress, thanks Abbot Jeremy at the conclusion of his final conference.





On July 21, Sisters Lynn Marie McKenzie, Elisabeth Meadows, and Minona Anne D'Souza traveled to Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, IN, to attend the biennial convention of the American Benedictine Academy (ABA).  The theme of the convention, Keep Death Daily Before Your Eyes, was based on a phrase from the Rule of St. Benedict.


On the way home, the travelers enjoyed a mini-pilgrimage as they stopped for brief visits at Gethsemani Abbey and St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Kentucky as well as the historic sites of Lincoln's Boyhood Home and Mammoth Cave.  The Sisters were glad for the traveling companionship of a monk of St. Bernard Abbey who traveled with them to the ABA convention. 



Above right (from left), Sisters Lynn Marie, Minona Anne, and Elisabeth at Our Lady of Grace Monastery.  Below, visiting a national park and Gethsemani Abbey on the way home.





In June and July, the community hosted the Benedictine Spirituality Workship and Retreat (BSWR), a formation program for Sisters preparing for perpetual monastic profession.  Sister Magdalena Craig served as Director of BSWR, with Sister Marcia Ziska of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, KS, as Co-Director.  The sun hats each participant received as a welcome to the sunny south were popular and well-worn items. 





For the third straight year, Sisters Karen Ann Lortscher and Michelle St. Marie attended the Steubenville Atlanta Youth Conference on behalf of the community's Vocation Team.  At they conference, they mingled with the young people, prayed with those who requested, and answered questions about monastic life.







Sister Elisabeth Meadows spent several weeks this summer engaged in coursework at St. John's University School of Theology in Collegeville, MN.  She is working part-time toward an M.A. in Theology from St. John's. During her time on-campus Sister Elisabeth was able to attend liturgies of the monastic community at St. John's, praying the Liturgy of the Hours with the monks and attending daily Mass. She was also able to visit nearby St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, MN, during her time in Minnesota.






In June, Sister Michelle St. Marie attended a retreat for Hispanic Youth sponsored by the Office of Hispanic Ministries of the Diocese of Birmingham.  The focus of the retreat was recent encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si.  Sister Michelle participated in all camp activities and, along with a monk of St. Bernard Abbey, provided a Benedictine presence to the youth. 



In early June, the community gathered for their annual summer meetings.  These days of meetings allow the Sisters a time to discuss the business of the monastery, offer one another updates on our various ministries, and learn together through occasional invited speakers who address topics of interest to the community. 


Sister Tonette Sperando, Prioress, chaired the meetings.  Other Sisters gave reports on various aspects of community life and ministry.


















Sister Karen Ann gives a powerpoint presentation to the community.











Sister Mary speaks to the Sisters.
















The Sisters often invite outside speakers in order to learn more about topics of interest or mutual concern.










A jigsaw puzzle draws the interest of Sister Therese (left) and Sister Mary Adrian during a break in the meetings.











At left, Sister Brigid and Sister Michelle share a visit and popcorn. 








At right, Sister Sherrie and Sister Kathleen Christa, and below, Sister Madeline and Sister Bertha, enjoy conversation between sessions. 


















Time was set aside one afternoon for professional portrait photos of the Sisters as it has been some years since these were last done.  You can see our new pictures here.














After long days of meetings interspersed with liturgy, time was set aside in the evenings for shared recreation. Here Sister Veronica moderates a friendly Family Feud between Sister Margaret Mary (left) and Sister Cecilia as Sister Jane looks on. 










Sister Treva and Sister Minona Anne receive their game instructions as Sister Emilie awaits her turn. 





Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, Sister Eileen (in black hat) gives Sister Sherrie her game instructions as the teams look on below.




























Outdoor recreation was also enjoyed by the Sisters.  Such times of recreation, while restorative, are not merely about recreation itself.  Rather, recreating together both strenghens the sisterly bonds of monastic community and allows us to balance our common work and prayer with the gift of leisure. 

























































Recreation was a good balance and ballast for the main activity of the week: careful attention to the lived details and context of our monastic life.