Our History

The Sisters trace their roots to Saint Walburg Abbey in Eichstätt, Bavaria. Six of them emigrated to St. Cloud in 1857, moving to St. Joseph in 1863. They came to teach children of European settlers and to live a monastic life on the frontier. In time, eleven daughter monasteries were founded, four in other countries.

  • Mount St. Scholastica Monastery, Atchison, Kansas, 1863
  • St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, Minnesota, 1892
  • Annunciation Monastery – Bismarck, North Dakota, 1947
  • Saint Bede Monastery – Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 1948
  • Saint Paul’s Monastery – St. Paul, Minnesota, 1948
  • Saint Placid Priory – Lacey, Washington, 1952
  • Saint Benedict Monastery - Tanshui, Taipei, Taiwan, 1988
  • Saint Benedict’s Monastery – Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, 1985
  • Saint Martin Monastery – Nassau, Bahamas, 1994
  • Mount Benedict Monastery – Ogden, Utah, 1994
  • Monasterio Santa Escolastica – Humacao, Puerto Rico, 2000

A commitment to education led the Sisters to open and staff schools in Central Minnesota and abroad. Since 1857, 1,653 Sisters have taught in 163 elementary and secondary schools located primarily in the Diocese of St. Cloud. Recognizing the need for higher education, they founded Saint Benedict’s Academy in 1878, which evolved into the College of Saint Benedict in 1913. In 1961, the Sisters transferred ownership to the College, constituting it a separately incorporated institution. As two fiscally independent corporations, the College and the Monastery share adjacent, overlapping campuses but are governed by two separate Boards (the Monastic Council governs the Sisters).

In response to the Gospel and the Rule of St. Benedict, the Sisters’ devotion to caring for the sick and elderly began at the same time as their work in education. They established homes for the elderly and six hospitals, including the St. Cloud Hospital. In 1962, the St. Cloud Hospital was separately incorporated, making it fiscally independent. In 1964, the Sisters transferred all of the Hospital’s assets to the new corporation.


The Sisters have served in schools throughout the state of Minnesota, depending on where the need for teachers was great. In all, they have established or served at 163 schools in the United States, including 72 in the Diocese of St. Cloud. (The following is only a partial list illustrating the extent and variety of the Sisters’ early and ongoing involvement in education.)

  • Saint Benedict’s Academy, St. Joseph, Minnesota (later Saint Benedict’s High School), 1880-1973
  • Indian Industrial School, St. Joseph, Minnesota, 1884-1896
  • Saint Benedict’s Boys’ Boarding School, St. Joseph, Minnesota, 1897-1948
  • Cathedral High School, St. Cloud, Minnesota, 1902
  • St. Mary’s Academy Boarding School, Altoona, Wisconsin, 1906-1948
  • College of Saint Benedict, St. Joseph, Minnesota, 1913 (separately incorporated in 1961)
  • St. Boniface High School, Cold Spring, Minnesota, 1919-1968
  • Pierz Memorial High School, Pierz, Minnesota, 1952-1968
  • St. Mary’s Boy’s Boarding School, Altoona, Wisconsin, 1938-1948
  • White Earth/Red Lake Reservation Schools, 1878-1969, 1888
  • St. Cloud School for Exceptional Children, Avon, Minnesota, 1945-1948
  • Benedictine Institute of Sacred Theology, St. Joseph, Minnesota (now Saint John’s University School of Theology), 1958.
  • Saint Anselm’s College, Manchester, New Hampshire, 1968

The Sisters have also served in schools throughout the world, including China, Japan, Taiwan, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

Health Care

The Sisters’ care for the sick and elderly is reflected in the establishment or staffing of

  • St. Cloud Hospital, 1886 (separately incorporated in 1962)
  • St. Cloud School of Nursing, 1908
  • St. Cloud School of X-ray Technology
  • St. Cloud School of Anesthesiology
  • St. Cloud School of Laboratory Technicians
  • St. Benedict’s Center (Division of St. Cloud Hospital, now St. Benedict’s Senior Community), 1978
  • St. Alexius Hospital in Bismarck, North Dakota, 1885
  • Mauston Hospital in Mauston, Wisconsin, 1934
  • St. Benedict’s Hospital in Ogden, Utah, 1946
  • School of Nursing in Ogden, Utah
  • Queen of Peace Hospital in New Prague, Minnesota, 1952
  • St. Michael’s Hospital in Richfield, Utah, 1960
  • St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged in St. Cloud, Minnesota, 1900
  • St. Raphael’s Rest Home in St. Cloud, Minnesota, 1928
  • St. Ann’s Home in Dickinson, North Dakota, 1944
  • St. Benedict’s Home in Dickinson, North Dakota, 1944
  • Mary Rondorf Home in Staples, Minnesota, 1953
  • St. Mary’s Home in Long Prairie, Minnesota, 1957
  • Mother of Mercy Nursing Home in Albany, Minnesota, 1959
  • Assumption Nursing Home in Cold Spring, Minnesota, 1964

Ministry and Social Services

  • St. Benedict’s Orphanage, St. Joseph, Minnesota, 1881-1893
  • St. Joseph’s Orphanage, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1877-1948
  • St. Benedict’s Indian Mission, White Earth, Minnesota, 1878-1980
  • Kaifeng Dispensary for refugees and soldiers wounded in the Sino-Japanese War, Kaifeng, China,1937-1941
  • Little Flower Indian Mission, Onamia, Minnesota, 1941-2001
  • Saint Benedict’s Home for Children, Tanshui, Taiwan, 1960-1975
  • School for Handicapped Children, Shimizusawa, Japan, 1966-1980
  • Benedictine Mission in Recife, Brazil, 1977-2001

Agriculture, Domestic and Fine Arts

In addition to education and health care, the Sisters have engaged in a rich variety of work, from diversified farming to the domestic and fine arts. They baked, cooked, cleaned, laundered, sewed, bound books, wove cloth, designed vestments and made candles. They tended turkeys, chickens, bees, orchards, vineyards and gardens. They created works of art and music, did research and wrote books. They were administrators, organists, liturgists, catechists, archivists, librarians, poets, mentors, tutors and advocates for the poor.

Current Ministries

While the Sisters still serve in many of their original ministries, their work has evolved in response to contemporary needs and challenges. Vatican II called them to be faithful to the original Benedictine vision and to respond to the needs of the times. As a monastic community, their primary mission is “to seek God in a life of prayer and service.” Centered in daily prayer and community living, they reach out to others. The wisdom gained from years of prayer and worship, living in community and ministering to others is the source of their hospitality and service. Responding to the contemporary desire for spirituality, the Sisters have chosen enriching the spiritual lives of others as a major ministry focus.

Before Vatican II the Sisters’ main ministries were easily identifiable. In the years since, by partnering with skilled, committed laity, the Sisters have been able to move into expanded ministries.

  • Administration and Development
  • Agriculture and Environmental Stewardship
  • Board Membership
  • Care of Elderly
  • Counseling
  • Cultural and Fine Arts
  • Diocesan and Parish Ministries
  • Domestic Arts
  • Education
  • Facilitation and Consultation
  • Formation
  • Healing Arts
  • Health Care
  • Hospitality
  • Liturgy
  • Music
  • Peace and Justice
  • Social Services
  • Spiritual Ministries
  • Women’s Leadership
  • Writing and Composing

In 2000, the Sisters adopted a long-range Strategic Plan projecting their future and ministries until 2015. Four significant priorities to which they have committed themselves are 1) enriching the spiritual lives of women within the Monastery and of others in the wider community, 2) increasing new membership to share their mission and vision, 3) partnering with others in service to the church and world and 4) stewarding their resources in ways that ensure the long-term viability of the Monastery and its diverse ministries (Strategic Plan 2000-2015).

The following list highlights some of the Sisters’ more recent and emerging ministries

  • Spiritual Ministries
  • Spiritual direction
  • Spiritual direction internship program
  • Retreats, program outreach to parishes
  • Mentoring young women through the Lilly Foundation Grant
  • Hispanic and American Indian Ministry
    • Casa Guadalupe, Cold Spring, Minnesota
    • Partners Across Borders
    • Health Care, Pastoral and Service Ministry, Naytahwaush, Minnesota
  • New Forms of Association with the Monastic Community
    • Resident and expanded Oblate program
    • Monastic live-in programs
    • Benedictine Friends program
    • Benedictine Spirituality and Community (4-credit college course which includes a monastic living experience)
  • Studium (program and facilities for Sister/guest scholars, researchers, writers, artists, composers, consultants)
  • Art and Heritage Place
    • Whitby Gift Shop and Gallery
    • Haehn Museum
  • Monastic Artisan Studios
  • Education for Leadership
    • Education of African Benedictine women
    • Education of Chinese women religious and seminarians
  • Prison and Jail Ministry
  • Administration
    • Saint Benedict’s Monastery, Saint Scholastica Convent
    • Catholic Charities Division of Aging, Diocese of Saint Cloud
    • Office of Social Justice, Archdiocese of Minneapolis/Saint Paul
    • Office of Education, Diocese of New Ulm
  • Board Membership