Tonight [October 16] was Sister Roberta Werner’s wake.
Sixty-one years ago, we sat in a circle of 35 young women aspiring to become monastics.
In June of 1959, 20 of us became novices.
With Roberta’s death, six women remain monastics of our original 35. Some have died, others answered God’s call to different parts of the vineyard.
My heart was full as I saw women accompany Roberta’s body into the chapel.
Suddenly, my mind was captured by a kaleidoscope of memories woven into the present:
I find my place as a postulant right by the huge granite pillar on the left, as a novice and junior in Schola. Benedict—teenagers we were, and now women we have become—each woman coming into chapel is a heart tug—each one, in some way is still, or newly, connected to the 35 of us in 1959—our hopes and dreams, our lives lived out. Benedict—at the center of it all.
Ora et labora—washing dishes and changing diapers, prayer in the 70s—short stops to saying “hi” to the Divine when toddlers tugged at my skirt or cried in my arms. Benedictine women who came before me and all of us together—here right now! Learning Hospitality—a shortcut to welcoming all races, all religions, all gender orientation—no exceptions.
Singing broke through my reverie. How I have missed monastic liturgy.
Many young faces 61 years ago fade in and out of my thoughts. Where are you, my sisters? Our lives are truly woven together in inexplicable ways. I no longer can name you, but I linger on your images as Roberta’s eulogy is being given and memories from those days are spoken. We’re all there and we’re all here, Roberta. You brought us together.
Don’t you dare rest in peace. Keep on making us laugh and bringing us together.
Pat Pickett, OblSB
Photo: Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels.com