How do I know if I have a call?
I might have a religious calling but I am not sure what should I do? Pray! Start searching so that clarity can come for you. Make contacts with communities, check the web. Listen to what others are saying to you. Be attentive to your heart and listen deeply. Take time to sort out the information you are beginning to gather. Allow God’s grace to work in you. Often in sifting out such a life choice we can be nervous and unsure and this is a very normal response or feeling to have.
What should I do if I think I have a calling to be a Sister?
Start by communicating with people you trust. Find a spiritual director. Ask your pastor and parish to remember you in prayer. Begin visiting communities. Make contact with vocation directors. Make some vocation visits and discernment retreats. Remember that the discernment for making life choices takes time. Be gentle with yourself.
What vows do I make?
We as Benedictines make our profession by promising Obedience, Stability, and Conversion of Life. This encompasses Poverty and Celibacy.
How often do Sisters pray?
In our community, we come together to pray in common three times a day—for Morning praise, also known as Lauds, and Eucharist, Noon prayer, and Evening Praise also known as Vespers. We also have our private prayer, Lectio Divina, and devotions.
What is Lectio Divina?
Lectio Divina is Latin for ‘Holy Reading’. It is an ancient form of private prayer or sacred reading. It is a way in which monastics deepen their relationship with God. Holy reading includes the following steps:
- Lectio: Reading of the scripture/text slowly, intently, attentively.
- Meditatio: Meditation of the word. Spending time with the word and ruminating with the text. Letting the encountered word become known and deeply pondered within. How the word affects and touches us.
- Oratio Prayer. The dialogue that we have with God, the relational conversation and understanding of the sacred communication with God.
- Contemplatio: The wordless quiet of contemplation. Silence. Letting the quiet embrace us as we accept the knowledge of our understanding and loving God in relationship with us. We move from acting and responding to receptivity. It is a resting in God.
What is a typical day like?
Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. Morning Praise 7:30 a.m. Eucharist (mass) Followed by breakfast. Most mornings meals are in silence unless we have recreation. After breakfast sisters go to perform their ministries and private prayer time, if so desired. Adoration is usually at 10:50 a.m. and Noon Praise is in chapel at 11:50 a.m. The sisters gather for lunch after prayer, continue their assigned ministry until 5:00 p.m., when we gather for Evening Praise. On Saturdays, we have breakfast on our own and we have morning praise at 11:30 a.m. A light lunch follows. We gather again in Chapel at 5:00 p.m. for Evening Praise. On Sundays, we gather in chapel at 7:30 a.m. for Morning Praise and then have a festive breakfast. At 9:30 a.m. we celebrate Eucharist. We gather again at 5:00 p.m. for Evening Praise and supper each evening at 6:00 p.m. Several Sisters gather for recreation in the evenings. Devotionals, such as the Rosary and Adoration are also a part of the daily schedule.
What does cloister mean? How do you practice it?
“A place, especially a monastery or convent, devoted to religious seclusion."
“Life lived in a monastery or convent. A secluded, quiet place.” Although we observe a certain amount of enclosure for the sake of our contemplative life, we're not strictly cloistered. While we work within the monastery, we may leave for education, workshops, recreational outings, shopping and needed appointments. Each sister is also allowed an annual three-week home visit or vacation.
Does the community wear a habit?
The Sisters prior to Vatican II wore a monastic garb or habit with veil, coif and scapular that was traditionally black and white in color. Today, most sisters wear secular clothes. Many of our older sisters choose to wear a veil and our common dress practice is to wear a black suit with white blouse. To see our current form of community dress, please visit our web page photos.
What types of ministry is the community involved in?
Our history reaches back to Eichstatt Germany. Our First Sisters came from Ferdinand, Indiana. Our Foundation began in Shoal Creek, Arkansas, on January 23, 1879. Our main ministry is to seek God in the way of St. Benedict. We live out our Benedictine Values by serving God and the world in a variety of ministries. Such ministries include education, retreat ministry, spiritual direction, administration, nursing, pastoral ministry, prison ministry, Hispanic ministry, social justice, gift shop, counseling, visiting the elderly and infirm. Other ministries include artisans, musicians, authors, and computer programmers. By our Benedictine heritage of hospitality, we strive to embrace any and all gifts and talents of the members.
What do the Sisters do for fun?
The Sisters strive to have a balanced life of prayer, work, and leisure. The variety of ways the sisters enjoy leisure or have ‘fun’ is as varied as the sisters themselves! Some sisters enjoy reading, art, music, nature, walking and hiking. Some enjoy cards and board games. Others like to play computer games, do puzzles, and visit with other sisters and friends. Some enjoy going to movies, television, sports. Some enjoy playing horseshoes, basketball, air hockey, foosball, and bowling! Sometimes just going out to eat or sharing ice cream or treat with each other is fun too. We have community gatherings and small festive parties to celebrate feast days and birthdays. The community has what we call ‘leisure day’ once a month where we pack a picnic lunch and have evening praise later in the evening so sisters can take time to rest and play.
Is there time for family and vacations?
Yes! There is for each member of the community opportunity for family visits and/or vacations. Family and friends can come and visit most any time, (however, there are times within the community scheduling when sisters must be home for events) and we can take up to three weeks of vacation per year. There is time allotted for family emergencies and needs as well, which is determined by need and consultation with the Prioress.
How are finances handled after I enter?
Usually, as a postulant and novice we ask that women who enter maintain their personal finances. The members are each given a monthly allowance to cover personal needs. Each member is asked to turn in a personal budget for the year. A woman who makes her perpetual profession is to make total renunciation to community, therefore all personal property just prior to making perpetual profession is to be dispersed or given away to family or community.
How is intimacy lived out in the monastic community?
Living the celibate life is quite a special calling. Some see this as not a natural way to live, but we are to emulate Christ who lived a celibate life. None of us made the decision to remain celibate lightly. Obviously, celibacy can be lived out rather well. As a celibate person we don’t focus on one other person, the way a spouse does in a marriage. Benedictine Sisters are free to be in relationships with many people and we express our intimacy in a variety of ways. We express it in our prayer, our common life, through our gifts and talents. The grace we need to live the celibate life is gift and God gives us this gift generously. We develop good, healthy and lasting friendships with each other and those we serve when we live the celibate life well. This does not mean we may not miss our families or having children of our own. Many of the members of community are close to nieces, nephews and the children they have taught. Our human need for intimacy is met in a God who knows us most deeply. Celibacy allows us more time and energy to pursue ministries that we are called to do.