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that did not work out
so God blessed us in
Needless to say Sis-
ter Pat and I were off
southern LA. We
had the added bless-
ing of meeting a few
staying with Sister
even attending the
World Youth Day in nearby Don-
aldsonville, LA.
What graces God gave us as we
met people from St. Theresa's,
St. Mark's and Holy Rosary.
These parishes allowed us to put
up our vocation material and
speak about our lives as Benedic-
tine Sisters of St. Scholastica.
The trip found us meeting youth
at every turn.
(continued on page 3)
Voca tion Visit to Louisiana
Wha t Dr ew Me...
The Gatekeeper
Vocation Ministry never lacks for
surprises. One afternoon Sister
Pat Bolling, who assists me in
vocation work was just jubilant
about an invitation she received.
That very invitation came from a
place dear to her, her former
elementary school, St. Theresa of
Avila located in Gonzales, LA. I
imagine Sister Pat did not wait
for one phone message to end in
order to begin another. I heard
her excitement about going to
Gonzales thread through her
voice to her heart. I was reluc-
tant to travel to LA as I knew
another future visit to the college
in Lafayette was on the calendar.
I asked her to pray about it and I
knew I would. I also knew it
would be asking a lot of her and,
yes, myself to travel the distance
needed and besides, we did not
budget such a venture. Albeit, for
God or Sister Pat to be out done,
she had the details ready and
permission granted and the next
thing I knew we were on our way
to LA.
At first, my excitement did not
match that of Sister Pat, but it
was not far off. We even man-
aged to visit Catholic Tech in
Ruston, LA. Visiting Catholic
Tech meant a lot to us as we had
hoped the women from the col-
lege there would make a nun-run
to visit us in previous months but
nity life lived by the sisters."
"The ministry and the social
justice aspects of the community
interested me."
"I was invited by the Sisters who
taught me to join."
What would draw you to enter St.
Scholastica today? The invitation
is yours! Come and See!
Recently our Vocation Advisory
board Advertising Committee
posed the question to some of the
sisters of St. Scholastica Monas-
tery, asking , "What drew them
specifically to enter this commu-
nity? " We thought we might
share these insights with you too!
Here are some of the responses:
"I grew up in the shadow of the
Abbey and knew I wanted to be a
Sister of St. Scholastica."
"I loved the habit the sisters
wore. They were so beautiful.
That was an attraction and my
sister was here."
"I was attracted to the prayer
"I was attracted to the commu-
Inside this issue:
Vocation Visits
Vocation Story
Sister Anita Berke-
What a Monastic
20/20 Dream
Special points of interest:
ˇ Vocation Visit to LA
ˇ Vocation Visits
ˇ What Drew Me...
S t . S c h o l a s t i c a M o n a s t e r y F o r t S m i t h , A r k a n s a s
February 2009
Volume 2, Issue 1
World Youth day Donaldsonville, LA
Word of the Month:
`Ora et Labora'
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My Voca tion Stor y: Sister Anita Ber kemeyer, OSB
while expressing gratitude for her time with us
and for our loving hospitality to her.
--Sr. Kimberly Rose Prohaska, OSB
Andrea Alexander, from St. Amant, Louisiana,
came to visit St. Scholastica Monastery this
December. Andrea is a native of Louisiana, an
English major and is a free lance writer for
various publications.
Sister Kimberly and Sister Pat met up with
Andrea in Louisiana at Cajun Village, where
we enjoyed beignets and café au lait. We later
ventured to the zesty tastes of chicken and
seafood gumbo while we met and enjoyed the
sunny, sultry weather of Cajun country.
After this visit and more dialogue, the sisters
were happy to welcome Andrea to St. Scholas-
tica. Andrea has been praying about her pos-
sible calling to the religious life and wanted to
experience some time in prayer and solitude.
During her visit Andrea also took time to get
to know the sisters and volunteered in our new
gift shop. She even spent a day helping Sister
Agatha Knittig bake home-made bread for the
annual bake sale. During her stay with us An-
drea encountered our way of life by participat-
ing in prayer and common meals. She ex-
plored the monastery grounds and often
walked the outdoor prayer Labyrinth.
After spending a week with us at the monas-
tery, Sister Kimberly and Andrea traveled to
Subiaco Abbey for a tour and then left for
Hesychia where Andrea spent a few more days
in the hermitage of St. Mark's in quiet prayer
and vocation discernment.
Andrea traveled back home to St. Amant and
left the views of Arkansas and Potato hill
You are always welcome to come and visit
and spend time with us regardless of how God
may be calling you.
--Sister Anita Berkemeyer, OSB
O God give me the grace to live in such
a way
that I may be ready to die at any time.
I know that you love me God,
and will always be with me.
I fear death for I have never experi-
enced it before.
Let me know that at death Jesus will
carry me
in His arms to take that last trip to Eter-
nal life with Him.
He has already died for all the graces
we need.
Jesus, I surrender my life and death to
(Sister Anita lives in the monastery infirmary and
shared her vocation story with me a few years ago
as well as the poem above).
Sr. Kimberly Rose Prohaska, OSB
I am Sister Anita Berkemeyer. My baptismal
name was Elizabeth and I was fifth in line of
fourteen in the family of Clemmons and May
Berkemeyer. I spent most of my childhood in
St. Vincent, Arkansas and I have wonderful
memories of `home'.
I entered St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort
Smith, in 1937, after two years of high school
in St. Vincent. One event that made me think
about a possible vocation was that my sister,
Sister Herman Joseph, who was a Benedictine
sister at St. Scholastica, came home every
three years for a two week home visit. She did
not talk me into entering the religious life for
it was still a closed subject for me at the time.
I became acquainted with the Benedictine
Sisters because they were my teachers
throughout my school years.
I was eighteen years of age when I entered St.
Scholastica and I am glad that I was a little
older than most girls who entered at that time.
This allowed me time for some experiences of
going on a few dates and going to dances as a
young person. How I love to dance and sing!
If I were to consider entering religious life
now I would still wait a few more years to be
sure, but maybe if I would have waited, I
would have never come at all because there
were times when I wasn't sure this life was for
Therefore, I was rather slow in answering
God's call, I remember
that my brothers would
tease me and say, "Liz is
going to be a Sister". I
which made them keep it
up. I said in response,
"Louise can go be a sister,
not me!"
After coming to
the monastery we
had five years to study about God and His
Church and about the Benedictine way of life
before we made our final promise to become a
member of St. Scholastica Monastery.
I can truly say that, even if I were not so eager
to give myself to God, and God's call, I do
know that I was willing to accept God's call as
the safest way to save my soul. God has loved
me so much that I want to return that love.
Now I am grateful that I did stick it out for
these seventy-two years as one of God's cho-
sen ones. I am satisfied and happy that I made
this choice. I would never be the person I am
now (nor would Louise, a.k.a. Sister Herman
Joseph) if I had not taken that big step! It takes
a lot of trust and love for God, while His
mercy preserves us in His great love. I would
encourage those who are thinking about reli-
gious life to come and see what it is all about.
This life can be a good choice for you too.
Voca tion Visit to St. Scholastica Monaster y
Page 2
The Gatekeeper
Sr. Kimberly and Andrea Alexander
Sr. Anita Berkemeyer, OSB
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gathering was living proof that spirituality is
alive and well among the young. We were
captivated by the community, the notably
beloved Bishop Muench delivered a welcome
and challenge
to the partici-
pants that was
by the hearers.
The waters that
are churning the beautiful bayous are telling us
that God loves, is in relationship will all and
especially the youth of LA. This truth was
evident as we traveled from Donaldsonville to
Ruston to meet with College Students and
experience Catholic Campus Ministry there.
We look forward to meeting more wonderful
people of God in Louisiana in the future! LLU
here we come! We might come visit you too!
--Sr. Kimberly Rose Prohaska, OSB
Voca tion Visit to Louisiana
(Continued from page 1)
plined mind. And when I say disciplined, I'm
not talking about effort....When there's some-
thing in you that moves in the right direction,
it creates its own discipline. The moment you
get bitten by the bug of awareness. Oh,
it's so delightful! It's the most delight-
ful thing in the world; the most impor-
tant, the most delightful. There's noth-
ing so important in the world as awak-
ening. Nothing! And, of course, it is
also discipline in its own way.
There's nothing so delightful as being
aware. Would you rather live in dark-
ness? Would you rather act and not be
aware of your actions, talk and not be
aware of your words?
Would you rather listen to people and not be
aware of what you're hearing, or see things
and not be aware of what you're looking at?
--Sister Pat Bolling, OSB
In the previous Benedictine Bookends article, I
quoted from Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth:
Awakening to Your Life's Purpose. Because
this book made a major impact on my life, I
wanted to share it with you. Recently, I was
made aware of another book in the same vein
by Anthony deMello called Awareness.
Thank you, Andrea Alexander, for recom-
mending that book! Anthony deMello speaks
plainly and forthrightly, pulling no punches.
Some may find him to be easier to understand
than Eckhart Tolle. There is so much that I'd
like to quote from Eckhart Tolle, and I in-
tended to do so in this article; but instead,
what follows is a quote from deMello's Aware-
ness. Anthony deMello was a Jesuit priest
known worldwide for his writings and spiri-
tual conferences. While reading his book this
morning, I was struck by the following pas-
sage in the section titled Awareness Without
Evaluating Everything:
Do you want to change the world?
How about beginning with yourself?
How about being transformed your-
self first?
But how do you achieve that?
Through observation. Through understanding.
With no interference or judgment on your part.
Because what you judge you cannot under-
When you say of someone, "He's a commu-
nist," understanding has stopped at that mo-
ment. You slapped a label on him. "She's a
capitalist." Understanding has stopped at that
moment. You slapped a label
on her, and if the label carries
undertones of approval or dis-
approval, so much the worse!
How are you going to under-
stand what you disapprove of,
or what you approve of, for that
matter? ... No judgment, no
commentary, no attitude: one
simply observes, one studies,
one watches, without the desire
to change what is. Because if
you desire to change what is
into what you think should be,
you no longer understand....A scientist ob-
serves the behavior of ants with no further
end in view than to study ants, to learn as
much as possible about them. He has no other
aim. He's not attempting to train them or get
anything out of them...That's his attitude.
The day you attain a posture like that, you
will experience a miracle. You will change ­
effortlessly, correctly. Change will happen,
you will not have to bring it about. As the life
of awareness settles on your darkness, what-
ever is evil will disappear. Whatever is good
will be fostered. You will have to experience
that for yourself....But this calls for a disci-
The days we spent with the students were full
and expressive.
The questions the youth brought to us were
not only well thought out but magical! It was
not hard to relate to the enthusiasm presented
us. The staff and all involved welcomed us
fully and often I even found myself wanting to
even be a native of Louisiana!
One event that held our attention was held at
Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church on
October 26, 2008, World Youth Day. Hun-
dreds of young people from the surrounding
areas attended.
The theme of WYD was "I AM." The phrase
took on many meanings for the youth and the
Wha t a Monastic Reads: Sr. Pa t Bolling, OSB
"There's nothing so
important in the world as
Page 3
Volume 2, Issue 1
"The theme of World
Youth Day: `I AM'
held many meanings for
the youth."
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Do you know a woman we'd like to know?
St. Scholastica Monastery 20/20 Vision
The year is 2020 and St. Scholastica Monastery rejoices in
20/20 vision!
We are a prophetic, contemplative, vibrant community
steeped in Benedictine values, a center of hospitality to all
of God's creation.
We stand in solidarity with the powerless; we are a voice
speaking for the voiceless.
We are a Eucharistic community building on our gospel
tradition of prayer, work and leisure.
We have embraced the challenge and have been enriched
through the new and multi-cultural membership in
Our 20/20 vision compels us to joyfully reach out to the
needs of our world and our church.
1301 S. Albert Pike
Fort Smith, Arkansas 72903
Phone: 479-783-4147
Fax: 479-782-4352
[email protected]
S t . S c h o l a s t i c a M o n a s t e r y
F o r t S m i t h , A r k a n s a s
The Gatekeeper
We are on the
We are Benedictine Sisters:
Committed to seeking God, rooted in a rich monastic tradition. Women who seek to be a voice
for the voiceless--by living a life balanced in hospitality, simplicity, and in the wisdom of the
We join together in prayer, community life and service to help create a loving world! Come live out
our 20/20 vision by sharing in our dream of being a prophetic and contemplative community!
Does she have listening heart-like ours?
A Heart filled with passion for being a God seeker?
Do you know a woman who would like to know more about us?
We'd like to know her too...
Please share with women infor-
mation about the Sisters of St.
Write or Call today!
Do you share our vision? We invite you to come & see!
Contact us today
Vol. 2
No. 1
Gatekeeper is published quarterly by the vocation office of St. Scho-
lastica Monastery PO Box 3489 Fort Smith, Arkansas 72913. Voca-
tion Department Email: [email protected] Telephone:
Anyone is welcome to be on our mailing list at no charge.
Sr. Kimberly Prohaska...Editor, Design, Photos, Circulation
Sr. Elise Forst....................Advisor, Copy Editor
Sr. Pat Bolling....................Contributor
Sr. Anita Berkemeyer............Contributor