Summer at Saint Benedict’s Monastery

Besides our usually busy summer schedule, this summer began with the installation of our new prioress on June 4. Hundreds of people were invited to witness this once-every-six-years event. It was spectacular. After such a major launch into summer events, our first community retreat has taken place from June 12–16. Other retreats, perhaps smaller in nature, include the Spirituality Center’s Intensive Centering Prayer Retreat and individual directed retreats.

Landmark events hold the fleeting summertime together. After June’s mega start, the College of Saint Benedict (CSB) reunion is set for the end of the month. Since a majority of sisters graduated from CSB, the yearly celebration means a great deal because friends reunite with friends during this time.

July 4 celebrations are almost inseparable from the St. Joe festivities, simply because the monastic community supports the St. Joseph Parish and its efforts to provide the religious life necessary to maintain grateful and generous hearts of affiliation. The Fourth of July Parade excites everyone because many display treasures, such as new tractors or semi-trucks, while others happily enjoy the entire range of fun parade items, including marching bands from local schools. The entire day of celebration on the school playground draws people from far and wide.

Besides this great patriotic event, the Monastic Institute offered by Saint John’s Abbey has been a standing attraction for years. Other workshops and conferences might include worship-related conferences, as well as camps for children. Our God, Girls and Good Times camps are offered once in June and again in July. Campers in grades 4 through 12 love the crafts and outdoor activities. College women are recruited to be counselors, so the young girls get a taste of college here.

Of course, our most significant event of every summer is July 11, which is special for every sister because this is the day on which she made her perpetual commitment. It is also the day for receiving new members. Everyone holds this day dear to her heart.

Interspersed among these standing events, jubilees are celebrated for the sisters reaching 25, 50, and even 75 years of monastic commitment are honored. For these celebrations, family members and friends are invited to help bring joy. Of course, for all these events in the monastery, daily prayer three times a day continues as does the offering of Eucharist at least three times a week. Besides our usual prayer schedule, we must eat, as well, and therefore three meals a day are prepared for as many as possible to enjoy. These are busy times.

At the beginning of the last month of summer, we take time for Community Days on the first couple of days in August. For these days, we usually plan fun events besides using the time to get to know each other better and better. August 15 begins the recognition that school terms will suddenly be upon us. Summer events begin to wind down, but we never run out of ongoing events.

When should you plan to come? Anytime, for sure; however, may I suggest that the 4th of July would give you firsthand understanding and seeing the monastery and St. Joseph citizens acting as one?

Mary Jane Berger, OSB

Photo: Sister Karen Rose gratefully steps into the role of prioress with her fellow sisters by her side, taken by Sister Nancy Bauer