Benedictine Women Service Corps (BWSC)


Benedictine Women Service Corps (BWSC), an outreach of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., invites College of Saint Benedict alumnae to join the monastic community in deepening relationships that support justice and service in a new location. Volunteers strive to live out the Benedictine Gospel values that were formed during their undergraduate education in a capacity that challenges them personally, spiritually and professionally.

Our 2016-2017 BWSC Volunteers

Mo Shannon, Erin Carey and Bethany Purkapile: Benedictine Values in Bristow, Va., and Erie, Pa


Bethany Mo Erin 3KRed.jpg

Mo Shannon (top), Erin Carey (middle) and Bethany Purkapile (bottom), are the Benedictine Women Service Corps volunteers for 2016-17. On September 1, they began a year's service at Benedictine monasteries in Bristow, Va., and Erie, Pa.

You can share in the women's experience through their blogs which will be published Thursdays on the monastery blogspot.

Photo by: Tammy Shoemaker, OSB

Our 2015-2016 BWSC Volunteer

Erin Kelso: Benedictine Values in Chicago

Erin bio on web.jpg

My name is Erin Kelso; I graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 2015 with a degree in Political Science. My hometown is Henderson, Minn. I am currently serving as a BWSC volunteer in Chicago, where I live at St. Scholastica Monastery, and teach English language learners, in addition to tutoring elementary kids at an after-school program. My favorite thing about Chicago so far is the multitude of museums and cultural events I've only just begun to explore. If you would like to learn more about my experience, please read my blog!

Our 2013-2014 BWSC Volunteer

Christina Désert: Working to Share Benedictine Values

Christina Desert.jpgChristina, pictured left, has served this year in the ministries of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia in Bristow, Va. She worked with women and children through BARN, a transitional housing program and also with BEACON, a literacy program for adult immigrants and others who are working toward achieving a GED. Read about Christina's BWSC experience  during her time as a volunteer and share her concluding thoughts.

Christina is a recent graduate of the College of Saint Benedict. She is the oldest of four siblings who were born in Port-au-Prince Haiti, and came to live in the United States when Christina was fourteen. After living in Florida for a year, Christina’s family made Meridian, Idaho, their home. Christina hopes to return to Haiti in the future and work with women and children.

Our 2012-2013 BWSC Volunteer

Ashley Blaine, picDSC_2492bcd.jpgtured left, a 2012 College of Saint Benedict graduate, was our BWSC volunteer for 2012-2013.  

She served at St. Gertrude’s, a Benedictine monastery in Ridgely, Maryland. Ashley assisted at the Sisters' school for children and adults with developmental disabilities, and at The Barn, an outreach program for people living in poverty in the surrounding area.

To learn more about Ashley's experiences, read her blog: Ashley's blog

We are proud of Ashley and her willingness to represent us as a past member of the BWSC.

Our 2011-2012 BWSC Volunteers

Ashley Irons for web.jpgJana Graczyk for web.jpgSarah Schwalbach for web.jpgMaggie Nielson for web.jpg

Left to right: Ashley Irons, Jana Graczyk, Sarah Schwalbach and Maggie Niebur

Four graduates from the Class of 2011 at the College of Saint Benedict have returned from Puerto Rico and Tanzania where they served as volunteers for the Benedictine Women's Service Corps. The program is a ministry of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota.

Ashley Irons and Maggie Niebur were in Tanzania, living and serving with the Benedictine Sisters of St. Agnes Monastery in Chipole. The monastery has many ministries to the local people. They run both a high school and an elementary school, as well as an orphanage. They have a dispensary and raise all their own meat and vegetables on their farm. Ashley was able to offer some help here, as she was a 2010 student worker for the Common Ground Garden. The Sisters are presently building a hospital on their property as well. Maggie Niebur is an English major from Miesville, Minnesota. Ashley Irons is a Peace Studies major from Twin Falls, Idaho.

Sarah Schwalbach and Jana Graczyk lived with and assisted the Sisters of Monasterio Santa Escolastica in Humacao, Puerto Rico. It is the second year that volunteers were sponsored at this location. Sarah, a Hispanic Studies and Communications major from River Falls, Wisconsin, taught English to kindergarteners. Jana, a Hispanic Studies and Biology major from Lake Elmo, Minnesota, taught health and American studies to middle school children. Both Jana and Sarah studied abroad in Latin America as CSB students.

To read more about the hands-on learning, challenges, struggles and rewards of the 2011-2012 BWCS volunteers, visit their blogs located on the left hand side bar of this page.

Our 2010-2011 BWSC volunteers also enjoyed their experiences. See why they recommend participating in the BWSC program: 2010-2011 BWSC testimonials 



  • Room and board
  • Roundtrip airfare
  • Monthly stipend
  • Orientation and post-year retreats at Saint Benedict’s Monastery
  • Opportunities for meaningful service


We are currently building relationships for placement with monasteries in the United States. Our placements for 2015-2016 year are for locations within the contiguous United States. They include: The Benedictine Sisters of Chicago, The Monastery of Mount Tabor in Kentucky and The Benedictine Sisters of Virginia.


  • College of Saint Benedict recent graduate
  • Commitment to serve within the host community for nine to twelve months
  • Health insurance
  • Responsive, flexible, compassionate leadership skills
  • You do not have to be Catholic, but you must be willing to participate in some part of the prayer life of the host community

Note: The program consists of a two week retreat/orientation prior to departure and a follow-up de-briefing retreat at the end of the period of service in the BWSC.


To donate to
the BWSC,
click here.

Click here to download an application form.


Benedictine Women
Service Corps (BWSC)
Saint Benedict’s Monastery
104 Chapel Lane
St. Joseph, MN 56374

                            Mary Catherine Holicky.jpg 

  Sister Mary Catherine Holicky 



Interested in learning more about the BWSC?  Click on the interviews below from our 2010-2011 BWSC volunteers.

Ashley Zartner on the highlights of living with the Sisters and teaching kindergarten in Humacao, Puerto Rico

Megan Sinner on her experience in Lacy Washington  

Daisy Nevarez and Ashley Zartner on recommendations for volunteers

Note: The College of Saint Benedict website also has information about the experiences of the 2010-2011 BWSC volunteers.