More than one year ago, Prioress Nancy Bauer listened to the student voices and asked a team of sisters and students to begin shaping the volunteer service program that we are offering to our graduates. Sisters Ann Marie Biermaier and Mary Jane Berger, along with senior Maria Conroy and a few other students met every other week to determine the mission, goals and responsibilities that will be a part of the service corps.
We had an excellent model to follow because our brother Abbey at St. John’s began a volunteer corps approximately ten years ago. They now have 16 sites where they send pairs of Johnnie grads each year. We anticipate that our program, too, will expand to new sites each year.
Saint Benedict’s Service Corps will begin this year with two sites and two volunteers at each site. We are offering our grads a 2-week training/spiritual experience prior to their departure in late August or early September, and a follow-up reflection time after they return.
When our women go to the monastic sites that we together decide upon, they will be living the Benedictine Gospel Values. As volunteers they will be hosted by the monastic community they are serving. They will join the community for prayer, work, and leisure. They will be listening to those they serve and will in turn be listened to by the sisters on site. These women will be receiving hospitality from their hosts and giving hospitality to those they serve.
Since November 4, we have had a flood of interested Bennies from first-year students to post graduates. Next week, Sister Ann Marie and I will be hosting women interested in knowing more details and possibly in applying to be part of this first endeavor. We are absolutely delighted with the voices we have heard saying, “We are so glad you have finally begun a program for CSB grads”!