Live in community at Holy Wisdom for 6 months

Become a  Benedictine Sojourner


  • Live with Benedictine sisters who are Catholic and Protestant at Holy Wisdom Monastery
  • Spend your days with other sojourners, volunteers, guests of the monastery, members of other Holy Wisdom communities and the sisters
  • Eat, pray, work, laugh and relax together
  • Learn about Benedictine spirituality
  • Care for the earth
  • This experience is for women who may be called to become a sister





Live together in a community of hope


  • Learn and share spiritual practices
  • Participate in intercultural & intergenerational dialogue
  • Share your faith story
  • Serve the common good







Restore the land and renew your spirit


  • Restore native prairie and oak savanna
  • Connect care for the earth with your spirituality
  • Learn to garden and reap the fruits of your labor
  • Walking meditation









Nurture your body, soul and spirit


  • Daily meditation
  • Weekly reflection with a sister
  • Balanced life of prayer, work, learning & leisure
  • Learn compassion for yourself and others







In their own words—former sojourners & intern

Kate Stel


At Holy Wisdom Monastery I have experienced a community like no other: courageous women leading the charge (and change) towards faithful environmental healing in the Church, intentional space for women’s spiritual growth, care and attention for the marginalized and oppressed, and the embrace of connection rather than division. Rather than define yourself over and against what the monastery is not, the communities here constantly work to build and grow into what they are and hope to become.

As a young woman floating at the fringes of Catholicism, unanchored yet still bobbing around somewhere within the vast ocean of the Church, my prayer and work at the monastery has reoriented me on my personal spiritual path and the direction of my ministry alike. For this, I can only say thank you. Thank you to each person, guest, volunteer, and the many plants and animals I have encountered this summer. At the time I’m writing this, tomorrow is my very last day. I’ve sincerely enjoyed my time working with the sisters community, gardening, meeting volunteers and oblates, and my opportunities to write things for the wide online community of Holy Wisdom Monastery. You have revived my spirit, renewed my body and mind, and touched my heart. —August 2018

Diane Ray


I want to thank everyone with whom I spent time during these 6 months, all the co-workers, volunteers and guests that I have come to know. But I particularly want to thank the sisters for their openness in allowing me to share in their lives while I was here. I also want to recognize Nancy Sandleback (librarian and archivist) for all the interesting work she found for me in the library, and Robert Kauper (chef) for all the fantastic food—particularly the bread, that I may miss that the most! I hope that Holy Wisdom Monastery can continue to grow in community and presence in the Madison area. I will always remember my time here, and will try to stop in when I am nearby! —April 2018



Paz Vital


In the native communities in Mexico, everybody knows their gifts and uses them for the welfare of the whole community.  People in these ancestral towns call this action Tequio.  I have a class with Sister Lynne about gifts. At the beginning it was a little difficult for me to think about my gifts. What are my gifts? What can I offer? Scientific experience in a monastery is not the most useful. But then I remembered I have something that only I have and I can offer to this community. It is the gift of diversity. I speak another language; therefore I have a different, international worldview. I have different cultural lenses to see the world. Also, I come from a poor country, so I have the point of view of the disadvantaged. I offer you a window to see the world through my eyes. This is my Tequio for this community. —March 2016

Denise West


The last time I blogged, my mind was focused on all that I’m losing as I transition back to New York—the community, the setting and my daily experiences. I’m still keenly aware of these things. As I go through my daily routine I’m checking off a mental list of lasts. Last time to work outside on the grounds with Paul; last chapter meeting; leading prayer for the last time. To my relief, now I’m also thinking about firsts, and the ways I’ve been enriched by this 6-month journey. I have new spiritual relationships, new friends, a wonderful monastery where I’ll always feel welcomed, spiritual teachings and practices to continue on my own and share with my church community in New York. And for the first time, I am ready to be baptized. —March 2016


Rosy Kandathil


As I reflect on the end of my Benedictine Sojourner time and all I’ve experienced, it is hard to say what has impacted me most. What could have prepared me for this time of living in community with women I did not know, of praying the Liturgy of the Hours, of eating regularly with strangers and finding camaraderie and common ground at the table, of learning to pay attention to the gifts in the present moment, of kindling a recognition of God in everything and everyone? It has been a time of changes and interior surprises, but simultaneously, perhaps paradoxically, of deep stability and predictability. I’ve emerged from this time with a renewed sense of direction and purpose.  —August 2014


Trish Stefanik


So what am I learning at this point in community life at Holy Wisdom Monastery? Monastic life has a way of taking one to the limit and pretense of one’s ego. The longer I am here and engaged the more I am being challenged to grow according to God’s plan, not my own; to be shaped in the image of Christ, not what I can make of myself in the world or even the monastery. I realize I am being called to move beyond the “I,” as Sister Joanne calls our self-centered ways of thinking and being. —November 2013



Brenda Lisenby


There is the beauty of the prairie and the serenity of the monastery atmosphere, but I think what I have been most impressed with since my arrival is rhythm—the rhythm of prayer and work. Learning the daily rhythm of the community and my place within it has been challenging yet rewarding. There is a welcome and a patience amongst the busyness of our days as I get to know the other Sojourners, the sisters, staff, and volunteers at Holy Wisdom. The challenge is being open to whatever task is next needed done—apples to pick, applesauce to make, tomatoes to pick, beans to process, dishes to wash, pictures to tag, articles to write—and so the schedule can be somewhat fluid depending on what day it is, the weather, or who is available. The reward is that we work well together, accomplish our task (usually with much laughter!), and still make it in good time to prayer. For prayer is at the heart of the community and is the center around which our day turns. No matter where we are or what task remains to be done, we stop, prepare ourselves, and enter into Morning, Midday, or Evening Prayer. The times of prayer anchor me and refresh me for whatever is next. The age-old Benedictine rhythm of balancing work and prayer is what I need and so it is what draws me to this time of sojourning at Holy Wisdom. I am learning the rhythm of prayer and work for this community as well as learning the rhythm of being my true self in this new place among new people.
August 2013

Nancy Melin


I am very, very grateful for my time here. Thanks to the sisters for making this opportunity available. The tools that I’ve gained in my 6 months here include centering prayer, studying the Enneagram, lectio divina, reading the Rule of Benedict together. These are tools that will benefit me into the future in ways I don’t even know yet. I have gained a lot in self awareness, in personal growth and spiritual growth. Some personal growth was painful, but through that work I gained a lot of healing. I’m a strong person for it. “The sisters modeled monastic life and Benedictine values. Sunday Assembly filled my cup—it is a huge blessing to be in the company of those who share the love of Christ—a huge blessing that rejuvenated me. This space allows for and fosters spiritual growth. If you come open to growth you will get a lot out of this experience. – February 2013


Linda Steg


I’ve most valued getting to know the community and spending time with them. The friendliness of people I met, their kindness was wonderful. Come if spirituality is important to you and you need community to make that a greater reality. If God opens the doors, come. —February 2013




Live in community for 6 months


  • This experience is for women who may be called to become a sister
  • Sojourners are Christian women, ages 24-40, who are not in a committed relationship
  • Applications are accepted throughout the year

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