Sister Ephrem (Rita) Hollermann was born in Melrose, Minn., on July 13, 1942. She entered Saint Benedict’s Convent* in St. Joseph, Minn., on September 8, 1961, became a novice on June 12, 1962, and made her first profession on July 11, 1963, and her final profession on July 11, 1967.
Prior to her election as the 14th prioress of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, she served the community as a junior high teacher of English and religion in various schools throughout the Diocese of St. Cloud in St. Cloud, Minn. (1964–1974), as a teacher of religion at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud (1974–1976), as director of novices and initial formation at Saint Benedict’s Monastery (1976–1983), as a doctoral student in historical theology/church history (1983–1987), and as assistant professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University (CSB+SJU) (1987–1995).
Early in S. Ephrem’s first term as prioress, in a further effort to reclaim its monastic identity, the community decided to describe itself as a “monastery” rather than a “convent” and became known as Saint Benedict’s Monastery. As prioress, the focus of her teaching was a comprehensive reflection on the biblical and monastic foundations of Benedictine life within the universal call of the church to holiness.
The community’s directive at the beginning of S. Ephrem’s first term was to implement the Comprehensive Facilities Plan approved in 1994. Within six years, significant progress was made, most notably the addition of an assisted living wing at Saint Scholastica Convent, the establishment of the Art and Heritage Place, and the relocation and expansion of the Spirituality Center. During her second term, the community embarked upon its first-ever capital campaign, making possible the renovation and restoration of the main monastery building.
Before and during her terms as prioress, S. Ephrem interacted with numerous Benedictine women’s communities in North America as a presenter, retreat director, federation delegate, and visitator. Her visits to Benedictine monasteries in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Italy, Germany, Taiwan, and Japan during her years as prioress have lent perspective to her research and writing interests related to Benedictine monasticism among women. During this time, Monasterio Santa Escolastica in Puerto Rico gained independence in 2000.
After 10 years as prioress, S. Ephrem spent a year in Studium, the community’s scholar-in-residence program, resuming her research and writing interests, as well as preparing for her return to CSB+SJU as an associate professor of theology from 2006 until her retirement in 2014. She was named professor emerita in 2014 and received the Egregia Award from the American Benedictine Academy in 2016. Currently, she is engaged in historical research and writing in the field of American Benedictine women’s history.
*Our community was named Saint Benedict’s Convent until 1996 when it was formally changed to Saint Benedict’s Monastery.