Catholic Sisters Week
Catholic Sisters Week takes place annually March 8–14. It is a week that shines a light on the spirituality, mission and community building of women religious.
Celebrating Catholic Sisters Week
Sisters from Saint Benedict’s Monastery founded the College of Saint Benedict in 1913. Although both institutions are separately incorporated today, our relationship with the college holds strong. One way we remain connected with College of Saint Benedict students (also called Bennies) is through our Benedictine Friends program. This program pairs a Bennie with a monastic sister, and over time, they get to know each other through one-on-one meetings, emails, phone calls, meals, prayers, and various campus activities (COVID dependent).
This year for Catholic Sisters Week, we have asked our senior Bennies to share a few words about what their relationship with their Benedictine Friends has meant to them and how it has enhanced their campus experience. We will share these reflections on this page and social media pages throughout the week. We will also highlight them in our spring issue of Benedictine Sisters and Friends magazine, so sign up for our mailing list if you are interested.
CSB Senior: Katelyn Barclay
Benedictine Friend: Sister Pat Ruether
I first met Sister Pat Ruether in the fall of 2018 when I arrived on campus. The Benedictine Friends program was one of the major draws to CSB/SJU when I was deciding which college to attend, and it has more than lived up to my expectations. S. Pat helps me feel welcome on campus, and I always know that there’s something here who cares about me. We’ve had great conversations over the years about topics in theology, tough life situations, and discerning our purposes in this life. S. Pat is a huge mentor figure for me because she works extremely hard at the monastery, is compassionate and inviting to everyone she meets, and puts others first. She has modeled for me what it means to be a Bennie, and I am extremely grateful for our friendship.
CSB Senior: Lily Fredericks
Benedictine Friend: Sister Helen Weber
I remember being pretty nervous to meet my Benedictine friend for the first time when I signed up for the program as a first year, but Sister Helen’s humor and charisma quickly made me feel at ease. She was always at all of the program events without fail and was always willing to participate in all of the fun activities and eagerly willing to learn more about my personal life as well. One of the first few times I spent with S. Helen, I told her about my great Aunt Sister Rose Michaelis that was a sister at Saint Benedict’s Monastery not too long ago but passed away from ovarian cancer and is buried in the monastery’s cemetery. To my great surprise, S. Helen’s face lit up immediately. She told me that she knew S. Rose. In fact, she continued to tell me that she was once roommates and good friends with S. Rose, and she told me all about how wonderful S. Rose was and that she had a great passion for being with children. I was flabbergasted.
Ever since then, our relationship really took off. One day, we even went for some coffee at The Local Blend where S. Helen insisted that I get a biscotti with a mocha to dip it in, which is now one of my favorite things to get when I go there. Another time, on a chilly and snowy day, S. Helen took me to the cemetery, and we searched for S. Rose’s tombstone. Upon finding it, S. Helen said an “Our Father” prayer for her, and this was such a wholesome and meaningful moment to me.
Since then, I have become increasingly busy and bound my commitments as I have navigated my four years at Saint Ben’s, but I have always found time to make it to a few of the Benedictine friends program events per year to see S. Helen. I especially made sure to keep in touch with her via email when Covid was at its peak. Now, as a senior, even though I cannot make it to all of the events, I still adore my relationship with S. Helen, and she has really had a positive impact on me. I will be sad when I have to say farewell to her and to Saint Ben’s, but I take comfort in knowing that there will be new first-year Bennies for S. Helen to build relationships with. I can only hope that these young people do not take that relationship for granted, because it really is something so unique and special.
CSB Senior: Hope Loosbrock
Benedictine Friend: Sister Mary Weidner
Benedictine Friends has been a blessing in my college experience from day one because of the people, relationships, and opportunities. This program is incredible because of the love and support each sister provides to their Benedictine Friend. Sister Mary, my Benedictine sister, has been a blessing through the highs and lows of my life. Mary has been a support system through difficult moments such as homesickness and stressful finals weeks. Nevertheless, she was there for the happy moments of graduating, getting an internship, and many other incredible moments. Each conversation and hug from Mary have allowed me to feel closer to God and the endless love He provides each one of us. Before COVID, we would regularly have dinner together in the monastery and form memories at Benedictine events. I will cherish these moments for years to come and look forward to staying in touch with Mary even after my time at CSB is complete, and I am excited for future Benedictine Friends that have the chance to do the same. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to plan with the executive committee and work with the sisters while also participating in the events, getting to know other team members, and having fun. Benedictine Friends has been a light in my life, and I am forever grateful for the relationships and opportunities it has given me.
CSB Senior: Madeline Doble
Benedictine Friend: Sister Eunice Antony
The friendship I have gained with my sister over the past four years has been so near and dear to my heart. I have been able to get a glimpse of what life is like being in the monastic community. I have also made relationships with not just my sister, but many of the other sisters by being on the Benedictine Friends Executive Team. Being around the sisters slows me down in my fast-paced life. I always feel more grateful and rejuvenated after spending time with them. My sister has taught me a lot about how to be a good human, how to have faith in God, and how to live out your own life purpose. Time spent with any of the sisters is always a breath of fresh air. I always walk out of the monastery with a new perspective of myself and the world. The list could go on and on for how much change has happened in these past four years, yet my relationship with Sister Eunice has remained a constant in my life—something that has always, and will always, bring me joy and a smile.
CSB Senior: Jaiden McCollum
Benedictine Friend: Sister Dorothy Manuel
My first time meeting Sister Dorothy was before coming to CSB. I was introduced to her through my brother since they went to Guatemala together. I knew that the Benedictine Friends program would be a great opportunity for me to get to know S. Dorothy more. Since my first time meeting S. Dorothy, we have met up multiple times, shared meals together, made Christmas cookies, had meaningful conversations, gone to daily Mass or prayers together, and rode on the famous four-wheeled bike. S. Dorothy has provided me with multiple opportunities to grow in my faith like reading Advent or Lenten booklets, busy women retreats, or watching YouTube videos about God. Over these four years, S. Dorothy has not only been my Benedictine Friend, but a true friend I can turn to. I am looking forward to staying in contact with S. Dorothy long after I graduate college and to keep growing our friendship while also our relationship with God.
CSB Senior: Megan Kohout
Benedictine Friend: Sister Lois Wedl
Meeting Sister Lois has been one of the highlights of my career at CSB. I transferred into St. Ben’s my sophomore year, and lived in Margretta, only a few doors down from S. Lois where she immediately took a special interest in me, as she does with many transfer students, to make sure I felt at home. S. Lois became my Benedictine friend, but also became so much more than that as she has been a blessing in my life here at Saint Bens as she has supported me through many aspects of my life and offers great insight as well as being a great shoulder to lean on. One night as a sophomore, S. Lois came to sit with me and pray for me in my dorm because I had a migraine. S. Lois also reached out to me over thanksgiving break as she knew I would be staying on campus and came to my door with a bagel and other snacks. I spent many hours in S. Lois’ apartment, discussing life and my goals as well as any questions I had about the Catholic faith and her story. At every turn, S. Lois has been an amazing friend and spiritual advisor only growing closer with my time here at CSB. S. Lois has become a very special part of my life and I couldn’t imagine my time here without her!
CSB Senior: Elizabeth Botz
Benedictine Friend: Sister Shirley Nohner
My relationship with Sister Shirley is one that I believe has helped me grow into the individual I am today and one I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life. S. Shirley and I began our friendship through the Benedictine Friends program my first year at CSB. Through dinners, prayers and Zoom calls, we got to know each other quite well. We created a bond of mutual support through the ups and downs of the past few years. Together, we rejoiced in our victories and provided comfort through our downfalls. I am forever thankful for her making my time here at CSB such a faithful and joyous experience!
CSB Senior: Molly Belda
Benedictine Friend: Sister Ann Machtemes
Getting to know Sister Ann through the Benedictine Friends program has been one of my favorite parts of my experience at CSB. I have learned so much from her, and I am so thankful for all the time we have been able to spend together over the past four years. I feel like I have gotten to know her a little better each year! We always have so much fun at the Benedictine Friends events, in addition to getting brunch together after Mass. I love chatting with her and catching up, and I am so thankful for her friendship and support over the years.
CSB Seniors: Hailee Thayer and Grace Sinclair
Benedictine Friends: Sister Lisa Kittock and Sister Karen Streveler
Going into freshman year, we both joined the Benedictine Friends Program looking for a connection to help us with the transition into college life. We had no idea what to expect from the program but had heard from older Bennies that it was so much fun and that we should participate. At the time, we didn’t know that we would develop a close relationship with both Sister Lisa Kittock and Sister Karen Streveler. We had a unique experience with the Benedictine Friends program because we were given the opportunity to develop relationships with two sisters instead of just one. We are incredibly grateful that we were able to have these relationships and attend events with both our sisters. One memory that sticks out to both of us was S’mores Night. Standing around a fire roasting marshmallows with S. Lisa and S. Karen will be a memory that we cherish and will think back to when we think of our time with the Benedictine Friends Program.
S. Lisa and S. Karen let their light shine in everything they do and have helped us shine our light throughout our time at the College of Saint Benedict.
CSB Senior: Madeline Stringer
Benedictine Friend: Sister Lisa Rose
My friendship with my Benedictine friend, Sister Lisa Rose, began when I was a freshman. I had gotten an invitation in my mailbox to join the program. I didn’t know right away if I wanted to join. I was, and still am, an introvert, and meeting new people was a scary prospect for me. But with some encouragement from my mom, who thought the program was incredibly interesting, I signed up. That’s when I met S. Lisa. She and I got along well, and the friendship I developed with her led me to getting out of my dorm more than I would have. The activities were always so fun; I have particularly fond memories of the Bingo nights, and more recently a fun game of Yahtzee with some of the other Benedictine friends and S. Lisa. Overall, I think my friendship with S. Lisa has made me a better person. It helped me come out of my shell, and I hope the continuing relationship we will have in the future will be just as rewarding as it has been.
CSB Senior: Lydia Anderson
Benedictine Friend: Sister Agatha Zwilling
Benedictine Friends is such a unique experience that Saint Ben’s offers, and I am fortunate to have been a part of it. I always looked forward to the events that the Benedictine Friends hosted. I am grateful for the opportunity to have had Sister Agatha as my Benedictine friend during my time at St. Bens. Her wisdom and support are something I will hold close to my heart forever. I’ve learned so much from her and created a lifelong friendship.
CSB Senior: Channa Kalsow
Benedictine Friend: Sister Helen Weber
My first day of freshman year, I attended daily Mass at the monastery with the sisters. Sister Helen is my cousin, and I had not seen her for many years, but she recognized me right away. She approached me after Mass and asked if I would like to be her Benedictine Friend. It has been an honor and a privilege to get to know S. Helen these past four years. She always has something kind to say and really cares for those around her. She made sure to stay in contact, even throughout the pandemic. I look forward to Benedictine Friend events because seeing S. Helen always brightens my day. Her positive attitude and faith in God have inspired me to be a better Catholic, and I will always be grateful for the time I have spent with S. Helen.
CSB Senior: Maggie Mahota
Benedictine Friend: Sister JoAnne Backes
I knew coming into St. Ben’s that I would develop many lasting friendships, but I never imagined that one of my most cherished friendships would be with a Benedictine sister. Sister JoAnne and I will remain friends long after I graduate in May. I have found that there is beauty in the simple moments we spend together which I find to be a sign of the depth of our friendship. Whether we are having ice cream, doing crafts, taking a walk, praying together, or just spending time catching up on life, my time with S. JoAnne always puts a smile on my face and leaves my heart feeling full. I am beyond blessed that God placed such a bright light in my life by bringing us together.
CSB Senior: Tess Glenzinski
Benedictine Friend: Sister Josue Behnen
I met Sister Josue on move-in day of my first year at St. Ben’s. I sat next to her at the move-in day Mass, and we started talking before, during, and after Mass. A moment that meant a lot to me that first meeting was when S. Josue stepped in for my parents, who were unable to attend, and prayed over me during the parent-student blessing. She wrote me a note that Mass inviting me to be her Benedictine Friend, and I still have this note displayed at my desk four years later. I took her up on that invitation, and S. Josue has been a blessing throughout my college years. I cherish our times to catch up about the big and small in life (usually over a few cookies). Meetings with S. Josue where we chat and pray always leave me fulfilled and grateful for a Benedictine Friend in my life. I know I will stay in contact with S. Josue after I graduate this May, and I am so thankful for the Benedictine connection in my life.
CSB Senior: Megan Greenberg
Benedictine Friend: Sister JoAnne Backes
It has been such an amazing experience being part of the Benedictine Friends program. Over the last four years, I’ve gotten to know Sister JoAnne through all the activities we’ve done together. Some of my favorite activities have been chatting over s’mores and making Christmas crafts. We’ve also had dinner together and went to Evening Prayer after. These are great times to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. I remember one time S. JoAnne brought a photo album and went over photos of her life as a sister. This was very cool and a fun way to get to know her more. Besides that, we often talk about how my classes are going and what is new in our lives. S. JoAnne is always so positive, and she brightens my day whenever we visit.
CSB Senior: Gillian Greenberg
Benedictine Friend: Sister Mary Schumer
Being Benedictine Friends with Sister Mary has been amazing. I have so many fond memories from making s’mores in the October cold to making holiday crafts in December. Last semester during a game night, we set out a lofty goal of finishing a 1,000-piece puzzle in an hour! We almost got the outline done! Getting to know S. Mary and having her as a friend that I got to share my college experience with has been such a joy. She has been so supportive during my journey at St. Ben’s and reminds me to work hard but also take time for myself. Seeing S. Mary after one of my wind ensemble concerts was so special. She tries to make as many as she can. I am so grateful to have S. Mary as a friend and for the time we got to spend together during my time at CSB.
CSB Senior: Ruthie Schutz
Benedictine Friend: Sister Shirley Nohner
As a first-year student, I knew I wanted to be involved in a club, but I did not know what club would fit me best. Thankfully, my roommate, Ellie Botz ’22, asked if I would like to be on the executive committee for Benedictine Friends. I went to the first meeting and had so much fun planning events and meeting my Benedictine Friend, Sister Shirley Nohner. S. Shirley and I quickly bonded over our nursing experience, and she taught me all about the history of St. Ben’s. She always sends me thoughtful cards, and I always enjoy hearing about her adventures as she uses her nursing skills to aide some of the sisters. S. Shirley has been my biggest cheerleader and always inspires me to help those in need. Throughout the years, I have been so grateful for our relationship, and I always look forward to our conversations.
CSB Senior: Erin Sticha
Benedictine Friend: Sister Adelia Sirek
I was lucky enough to be able to spend time with Sister Adelia for an extra year, as I am a fifth-year nursing student. We have been able to bond over our shared hometown, a love of traditional Czech foods, and our faith. Over the past two years, we have not been able to get together very much due to COVID-19. Even though we had to be separate for a while, I always knew that she was one handwritten letter away. It is reassuring to know that I have someone who is praying for me and who wants to see me succeed in anything and everything I do. Having one more person in your corner never hurts! I will miss our many dates for lunch at Bo Diddley’s and a coffee from the Local Blend and am grateful for all the time we have been able to spend together. I am thankful for the Benedictine Friends program for truly giving me another friend!
CSB Senior: Ashley Ortizcazarin
Benedictine Friend: Sister Leora Juettner
The Benedictine Friends program is one of the signature opportunities the College of Saint Benedict has to offer. As a women’s liberal arts college, St. Ben’s is known to foster strong, educated, and well-rounded women. I’m lucky to have a familial connection at St. Ben’s, my great aunt, Sister Leora Juettner. She is not only my Benedictine Friend but a stand-in guardian figure that has guided me on my college journey. I started the program as a freshman, with my older sister who was a senior at the time. Some of my favorite Benedictine Friends programs include Christmas Craft Night, Bingo with the Benedictine Sisters, and Smore Night! My Benedictine Friend and I also meet for quiet prayers and conversations in the Sacred Heart’s Gathering Place, one of the most peaceful places on campus. There we talk about classes, family, dreams and what it’s like living in community with the other sisters. This program successfully lives out St. Ben’s mission to be in community with one another. It empowers Bennies to be in wholistic relationships that extend beyond college-aged students. Bennies who participate in this program can all agree, St. Ben’s feels more like home because of our Benedictine Friends!