BWSC Bethany’s last BLOG

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 will challenge them personally, spiritually and professionally.

The women’s year of service is coming to an end. This week Bethany Purkapile shares her final thoughts about her experience.


When I reflect back on why I decided to volunteer a year with the Benedictine Women Service Corps (BWSC), I remember how lost I was. I was graduating college and while everyone else had these big plans to get their dream job, I was not even sure what my dream job was. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had ideas of what I thought I would have liked to do but I never really knew what exactly those fields would entail. I needed more experience and that was one of the reasons that led me to BWSC.

The other reason was avoidance. I did not realize I was doing it, but I was avoiding going home. I was avoiding dealing with the problems that would surround me when I got there. My parents’ divorce finally went through and I knew that going home meant that I had to face the issues left behind from my father leaving, not only for me but for my younger siblings as well. The turmoil left over from that scared me, and it was easier to avoid it than to face the pain that came along with that.

(Photo submitted by Bethany Purkapile)
I often say that my time in Bristow was healing. That is truly, what it was: a year for me to experience fields that I would not get the chance to experience otherwise and to find myself, to heal from past pains and to further develop a relationship between me and God. I got all of those things while volunteering and it is exactly what I needed to feel comfortable and equipped to face my future, whatever it is that God has planned for me.

It has been 270 days of healing and growth. That is how long I have been here in Bristow.  Fortunately, I have way more than 270 memories of my time spent here. Every day has been a new experience and each of these last few days holds even more.

I am going to miss my Friday night hangouts with the sisters; where we begin our evenings with the news, Jeopardy. Our “party nights” filled with yummy snacks and drinks while we watched MacGyver, Hawaii 5-0, and Blue Bloods were something that I looked forward to every week. Every Friday I could count on the same sisters staying up late to hang out, the same laughter from the ridiculous stunts that MacGyver pulled and the same tears that began to fill our eyes with the sweet moments from Hawaii 5-0 and Blue Bloods.

I am going to miss the consistency of my schedule here with the sisters; going to prayer, work, and meal times. Spending dinners with the sisters has created some of my fondest memories. It is where we share stories of our days, our pasts and where I have learned the most about the sisters. It is where they tell me stories of their past, stories of how they came to be.

(Bethany, third from left, with her students
Photo submitted by Bethany Purkapile)
I am going to miss my students and teaching. As much as I don’t enjoy lesson planning, I’m going to miss getting up in the morning and dreading going to class, but the feeling of energy I get from seeing my students smiling and ready to learn. I am going to miss laughing at how ridiculous the English language is and protesting it with my students.

I am going to miss my time at BARN and the strength of each of the residents. The courage and strength of each of the individuals cannot be put into words. I am going to miss spending time with the children watching movies, playing outside and doing arts and crafts. I will miss their sweet hugs when they come home from school and find me in the office.

Most of all, I am going to miss the Sisters. I have created so many bonds and friendships that leaving is going to be very hard. The memories created with the Sisters here in Bristow are memories that will last me a lifetime. I found family here in Bristow, one that will remain with me for many years to come. Like I tell the Sisters, I might be leaving, but this is definitely not good-bye.

Thank you to everyone who has followed my year here in Bristow through my blog posts! Thank you for your continued prayers and support as well as the wonderful emails of encouragement.   


Bethany Purkapile