In Gratitude-BWSC Erin’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 Erin Carey shares her final thoughts about her experience.
My days left at Mount Saint Benedict continue to dwindle as the last nine months are coming to a close. Many people are curious about what I thought of my experience. It’s a difficult question to answer without a little perspective from the experience, but here is what I have learned, appreciated and gathered so far.

From Saint Benedict’s Education Center: One of the teachers at Saint Benedicts has a refrain in the morning of saying “Look. Listen. Smile,” to the refugees to bring their attention to the lesson. It is a  simple mantra that I’ve come to appreciate. It has a centering effect on the refugees and on me, reminding me to take the time to stop and take in what or who is before me with open ears and a smile. The refugees respond with grins and a few laughs. The mantra reminded me to first greet each person as a person before we begin work.


From the Neighborhood Art House: Before classes start at the Art House the children gather together for announcements and to say a pledge:


May my mind think no harm.

May my lips speak no harm.

May my hands do no harm.

May the children of tomorrow

bless the work I offer.


I pledge allegiance to the earth

and all its sacred parts,

its water, land and living things

and all its human hearts.

I pledge allegiance to all life

and promise I shall care

 to love and cherish all its gifts

with people everywhere.


The pledge’s words taught me a nonviolent, global perspective is possible in all things, including art, music, and dance. I love the intentionality of starting classes with this broad and peace-seeking perspective.


From community: At the beginning of community celebrations the sisters sing a mantra:


 “Glorify God. Cherish Christ. Listen to the spirit. Reverence one another. Uphold all.“

(Teachers and Fellow Volunteers
Photo submitted by Erin Carey)


To me, it is a summary of what  monastic life is all about. Glorifying, cherishing, listening, reverencing and upholding take forms in the sisters’ relationships with each other; the care taken in helping an older sister; the teamwork of a dish team or a group to decorate the dining room for holidays; the presence shown to all residents of Erie: children, migrant workers, refugees, the homeless, and the poor; the hospitality shown to me and other women who come to live monastic life for a little while. I am so thankful to have been in a group of women that glorifies, cherishes, listens, reverences and upholds. I believe it is women religious guiding the church and the world into new ways of being and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to sit at their feet for a little while. The community prayer for vocations begins with the line: “We believe that Benedictine monasticism bears fruit for the world.” After living the life for a little while I can agree one hundred percent. The fruits from examples of awareness, peace, stability, love and acceptance are abundantly given here and I am so grateful.

MANY thanks to all in Minnesota, Iowa, and Erie who have sent prayers, encouragements and love to me. I am touched and grateful for the richness of the opportunity I was graced with the last nine months. I’m looking forward to continuing to unravel the meaning of this experience for years to come.


In gratitude and love,