Donor Profiles: Millennial Giving at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Mike Sweitzer-Beckman Benedictine Bridge, Main Leave a Comment

One of the true joys of my job is being able to connect with our supporters who share a passion for the sisters’ mission and ministries. I have the privilege of many impromptu conversations and correspondence with some passionate people who are drawn to the works of the monastery. It’s always wonderful to hear about their life experiences, especially some of the folks who have been involved at the monastery since the 1950s when the sisters first settled here. Our donor records go back to 1970 and some of these original donors are still monthly donors today. There is strength in this longevity and history.

Another draw for me is connecting with millennials who are also attracted to the monastery. There is a true thirsting among this generation for a place: open to different denominations, preaches and practices radical hospitality, honors the needs of the GLBTQ community, and practices care for the earth activities.

I was able to catch up with a few relatively new donors who find a true joy in supporting the sisters at Holy Wisdom Monastery.

Joanna and familyJohanna Hatch (left) was overjoyed that she and her husband could participate with an ecumenical Benedictine community in their new home community. Johanna met her husband, Evan Creed, at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict in Collegeville, Minnesota, prior to moving to the Madison area in 2008. She received an invitation to worship here and soon after she and her family joined the Sunday Assembly community. Her son Liam was baptized here in 2010.

Steve Plachinski discovered the monastery around the same time as Johanna, and was first invited here for dinner with the sisters. While earning his master’s degree in Environmental Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he fell in love with all the care for the earth projects that the sisters were engaged in and began volunteering here regularly. Steve was dating his now-wife, Katy Murphy, while she lived in Milwaukee. While here on the weekends, Katy would attend worship at the monastery with Steve. They both moved to Sheboygan, WI (two hours northeast of Madison) for jobs in the winter of 2011-12. However, they planned their wedding here and got married in the assembly room in October of last year.

Johanna, Steve and Katy are drawn to the monastery for similar reasons: they find the ecumenical, open spirit to be refreshing; they enjoy seeing women in leadership roles during prayer and worship; they appreciate finding a place that truly aligns with their own values as individuals and as families; they value the ability to retain a connection to their home faith traditions while being open to the various faith traditions of others; and they believe in a strong environmental ethic that isn’t just preached, but practiced.

In particular, Johanna sees what the monastery is doing as the future of the Christian church. It isn’t about fragmentation, but about coming together as one community.


Steve and Katy get married at Holy Wisdom Monastery. Photo by Rejoy Photography

Katy and Steve found it important to have their wedding here. They enjoyed working diligently with Sister Lynne Smith to create a ceremony that expressed their own values as well as the values of the broader community.

Johanna, Katy and Steve began giving monthly to support the monastery in the past year. It’s not all that common for millennials to regularly support an organization, in part because of where they are financially in life. I was curious what drove both of them to make these ongoing, generous commitments to support the monastery.

For Johanna and her family, it’s important to give to organizations she believes in. Holy Wisdom Monastery is a place she calls her home for worship, and a space that was important to her for the baptism of her son. She believes the monastic tradition is worth preserving, and the place embodies her family’s values. She appreciates the preservation of the land. She also enjoys the option of automatic monthly donations from her checking account so she doesn’t have to remember to do this.

Katy and Steve continue to support the monastery through a monthly commitment, even though geography keeps them away more than they would like. Holy Wisdom Monastery has provided such an authentic space for them to continue their spiritual journey, and they find true joy in continuing to give. They want to see it thrive even if they can’t be here every week. They appreciate knowing they have a faith home in the Madison area when they return.

What’s your story for why you support Holy Wisdom Monastery? These are the stories that help to nurture and grow the monastery’s mission. I would love to hear from you by phone at 608-836-1631, x124 or by email at If you are interested in monthly giving or learning more about planned giving, please be in touch.


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