Summer Stewards Reflection By Grace

Holy Wisdom MonasteryLiving in Community, Monastic Life, Retreats, Women Exploring Community Leave a Comment

We were immersed in monastery life. We attended prayer, ate meals with the sisters and other retreatants, and shared in chores. The fresh vegetables we harvested in the morning became the dinner we enjoyed in the evening. We helped with restoration efforts on the prairie and in the pines.

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How Did You Become a Sister?, Ft. Sister Denise West

Brooke MoriartyCommunity of Benedict, Monastic Life, Myth busting, Podcast, Rule of Benedict, Women Exploring Community 6 Comments

Want to be the first to hear every new episode? Click here to sign up for email notifications! How do you imagine one becomes a monk? Is it something you plan or something you discover? Do you have to be religious your whole life before joining a monastery? Truth be told, there is no one answer. Our own sister’s community at Holy Wisdom Monastery have an array of unique stories that led them to their lives here in Middleton. In this episode, we sit with Sister Denise West and listen to her journey from a non-secular home in Tennessee to …

Looking Back: ‘Ecumenical Monastic Life Offers Journey into a New Culture’ (2003) by Erica Thiessen

Brooke MoriartyBenedictine Bridge, Community of Benedict, Interfaith Relations, Living in Community, Looking Back, Monastic Life, Rule of Benedict 2 Comments

In 2003, Erica Thiessen was a novice of Benedictine Women of Madison. In Issue 12 of Benedictine Bridge from Ordinary Time 2003, she wrote this article reflecting on the value of Benedictine life in relation to her own experiences as a Mennonite. I have been journeying into different lands from almost before I was born. My parents were both Russian Mennonite immigrants to Canada. As a family, we traveled to Ghana and Trinidad where my father taught school. In ways, I became a pilgrim, and for much of my adult life, I have lived and worked around the world. Always …

Sojourner diary—hopeful expectations

Rachel OlsonLiving in Community, Sojourner diary 2 Comments

Advent is a season of hopeful expectation. Nowhere is that more clearly illustrated for us than in the Gospel stories of mother-to-be Mary as she surrenders herself to God and then patiently waits for the Divine plan and purpose for her life to develop and emerge within her. I’m guessing from my own childbearing experiences that it wasn’t always easy or comfortable. For Mary, saying yes to the Spirit was risk. It was a guarantee that her life would change and that some of that change would bring pain. But, say yes to God also meant that she would be …

The gift of encuentro

Denise West, OSBLiving in Community Leave a Comment

Last November, Sister Lynne Smith, Sister Paz Vital and I headed up to Milwaukee for a conference on the future of religious communities in the United States. The theme of the conference was Encuentro, and the focus was around the great diversity of cultures in this country and the changing face of religious communities as greater numbers of women and men born outside the US join American religious orders. The keynote speaker was Sister Teresa Maya, president-elect of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious. A native of Mexico City, she is a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate …

Monastic profession in a time of violence, division and fear

Rosy Kandathil, OSBLetters home, Living in Community 4 Comments

Openness to change is a cornerstone of Benedictine life, reflected in the vow of conversatio morum, traditionally understood as “conversion to the monastic way.” Conversatio points Benedictines to an openness of the heart, a commitment to conversion—a deep-seated orientation toward the Spirit’s call. At its best, Benedictine life is a fluid and flexible form, inspired by a 1500-year history and the examples of those who have gone before. Last week over 100 monks, sisters, nuns, oblates and students of theology attended the 2016 Monastic Institute hosted by Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville, MN. Reflecting on the theme …

What are you reading for Lent?

Lynne Smith, OSBLiving in Community, Monastic Life Leave a Comment

In the Rule, Benedict writes: “during this time of Lent each one is to receive a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it straight through.” It continues to be our practice to choose a book to read during Lent. Sister Joanne and I share reflections on our Lenten reading below. Sister Joanne: Mary Gordon, the author, comes to Holy Wisdom Monastery when she travels to Madison.  On a recent visit she presented the sisters with an autographed copy of her latest book, Reading Jesus.  It was my choice for Lent; I gained new insights into …

"Learn everyday of your life"

Lynne Smith, OSBLiving in Community 2 Comments

This week my attention has been focused on how on-going growth and integration is basic to the monastic life. Benedictine life asks that we “learn everyday of our lives” and that learning is not just about intellectual knowledge. In her book, Seeking Life, Esther de Waal notes that Benedict is always addressing the whole self – body, mind and spirit. Benedict tells us in the Prologue that we must “prepare our hearts and bodies.” So as we seek to open ourselves more deeply to God during Lent, we might attend to each aspect of our person as de Waal suggests. …

Reflections on Formation in Community

Lynne Smith, OSBBenedictine Bridge, Monastic Life, Women Exploring Community Leave a Comment

My work as director of membership and monastic formation has prompted me to reflect on my own formation lately. Formation is different for each woman who comes to community, yet the process is similar. Prayer, common work and dialogue, study, leisure and the practices of hospitality, listening, obedience and humility invite a woman into the on-going conversion at the heart of monastic life. Some stories from my own early years in community may shed light on the process of Benedictine formation. An ordinary event soon after I moved to the monastery revealed a portion of God’s agenda for my formation. …

Sister Asella Returns to Korea

Mary David Walgenbach, OSBBenedictine Bridge, Hospitality, Monastic Life Leave a Comment

In June 2009, Sister Asella Kim, a Missionary Benedictine from Seoul, Korea, came to live with the sisters at Holy Wisdom Monastery. She was here on a year’s sabbatical after serving a Korean and American parish in New Jersey for six years. Asella has known us since 1994 when she spent four years here learning English and continuing her education. Because Sister Asella is a kindred spirit we count her as part of our community. She especially enjoyed walking in the prairie and working in the garden. She even requested a three-month extension of her sabbatical so she could help bring in the produce …