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 the College of Saint Benedict in 1913. The Sisters also founded the Benedictine Institute of Sacred Theology, now known as Saint John’s School of Theology.
Although the number of Sisters teaching today is smaller than years past, the Sisters continue their work in education as they teach in primary and secondary schools in the Archdiocese of Minneapolis/St. Paul and Central Minnesota. In addition, many Sisters teach at the College of Saint Benedict and Benilde-St. Margaret in St. Louis Park, Minn.
Benedictine Friends Program
The Benedictine Friends Program, which has had a variety of names since it began in 1977, is designed to form friendships between Benedictine Sisters and college students. When the college began in 1913, all of the teachers were Benedictine Sisters. Over the years, the number of Sisters teaching in the college has decreased; now some students can go through college without ever knowing a Sister or seeing the inside of the monastery.
The Benedictine Friends Program has changed this. First year students are invited to join the program and are assigned to a Sister who will be her friend. Many of these relationships last all during the college years and beyond. It is not unusual for a student to invite her Benedictine friend (a Sister) to her wedding or come to visit after graduation.
The Benedictine Friends Program Committee, made up of four Sisters and four students, plan three or four large group activities each year. Favorites are card making, which takes place on a Sunday afternoon after Thanksgiving, and a bingo party, which is the last activity of the school year. Usually a retreat afternoon takes place during Lent. In addition to the large group activities, Sisters and students meet to visit or take walks together. Often a student will join her Sister at Noon Prayer in the Oratory and accompany her to lunch in the Monastery Dining Room. They send each other birthday and Christmas cards; at times the Sister may write a note or send an e-mail assuring her friend of her prayers during test week or when she knows her friend is having some kind of difficulty. Through these activities, mutually enriching friendships between students and Sisters become a reality. For more information on Benedictine Friends, contact Sister Lois Wedl at firstname.lastname@example.org or (320)-363-5586.