The following entry is reprinted from the 2012 John Knox Presbytery Lenten Devotional, a booklet containing real life stories from people across the Presbytery in addition to Scripture and prayer. The entry was submitted by Sister Lynne Smith, OSB from Holy Wisdom Monastery and we have permission to reprint it here.
Week of March 5, 2012
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17: 20-23
In the early 1990s the sisters at Holy Wisdom Monastery (then Saint Benedict Center) heard God calling them to open their community membership to women of any Christian denomination. Since 1967, the sisters led retreats, shared meals and prayed with Christians of many denominations at Saint Benedict Center, their ecumenical retreat and conference center. Over the years, the sisters’ hearts were changed by praying and meeting with other Christians.
Protestant women also began to ask if they could join the community. In 1992, the sisters began a visioning process to discern their future life and ministries with invited religious leaders. In 1994, the Ecumenical Board was established to help support the sisters’ vision of an ecumenical women’s community, Benedictine Women of Madison. In 2006, the sisters received membership as an affiliated ecumenical monastery in their Benedictine federation.
The community seeks God through a life following the Gospel and the Rule of Benedict. Community members live, pray and work together and welcome other single Christian women to explore life with them. They honor diversity among their members and in the communities they help create: the Oblate community, coworkers, volunteers, and the Sunday worship assembly. Ministries at the Holy Wisdom Monastery provide resources for spiritual enrichment and growth. Prairie restoration and a “green” monastery building express the Benedictine Women’s environmental work. The community’s hospitality extends to sisters from around the globe, with specific mission links to the Missionary Benedictine sisters in Nairobi, Kenya.
Lynne Smith, an ordained Presbyterian minister, joined the community in 2000, and John Knox Presbytery validated her ministry at the monastery. She works in the areas of membership, liturgy and oblates.
All are welcome to join the sisters for the Liturgy of Hours, Centering Prayer, spiritual guidance, ecumenical Sunday worship. Individuals and groups are invited to come on retreat or volunteer on the monastery grounds.
Prayer: Gracious and Holy God, give us wisdom to perceive you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate on you, and a life to proclaim you; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Savior Amen. (A prayer of Saint Benedict)