2016 Jubilee Celebrations

Diamond Jubilarians

A private community celebration was held at Sacred Heart Monastery on Friday August 5, to honor four Sisters celebrating their 60th and 70th year Jubilarians. Pictured from left to right, S. Penny Bingham, prioress, Ss. Madonna Schmitt, Bernadette McGowen, Louise Marie Goettertz, and Matthew Wehri, and sub-prioress S. Jeanne Weber. A Mass was celebrated by Fr. Valerian Odermann, OSB and the Sisters renewed their monastic profession in the presence of S. Penny Bingham, prioress and the Benedictine community.

Diamond Jubilarians 2016

Golden Jubilarians

2016 golden Jubilees_ Ss. Penny Bingham

Prioress Penny Bingham (far left) and Subprioress Jeanne Weber (far right) take a moment out of the celebration to capture the day with Golden Jubilarians (left to right) Ss. Marietta Kerkvliet, Jennifer Kehrwald, Kathryn Easley, Joyce Streff, and Margo Tschetter.

Celebrating their Fiftieth Jubilee of Monastic Profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD, were Sisters Jennifer Kehrwald, Joyce Streff, Kathryn Easley, Margo Tschetter, and Marietta Kerkvliet. Family and friends joined the Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery at a Mass celebrated by Fr. Jim Bream, OSB on July 23, 2016. Ss. Jennifer, Joyce, Kathryn, Margo, and Marietta renewed their monastic profession in the presence of S. Penny Bingham, prioress.

Read more about S. Marietta’s Golden Jubilee.

Diamond Jubilarians

Sister Bernadette McGowen


Sister Bernadette McGowen daughter of the late James and Rose McGowen, began life on the family farm near Laurel, Nebraska. Sister attended grade and high schools at Holy Trinity in Hartington, Nebraska. S. Bernadette taught a year at Bunker Hill rural school near Hartington and then she studied a year at Mount Marty College. Sister shares, “Because of the services the Benedictine Sisters from Yankton had given the Hartington area, I finally became aware of my vocation; I joined Sacred Heart Community in 1954.”


Her ministries include 35 years of teaching kindergarten through college, parish work, service as a companion for another Sister, and work in hospice care. She taught in Salem, Chamberlain, and Yankton, South Dakota and Bow Valley, Lincoln, and Menominee, Nebraska, and Richardton, North Dakota. In 1973 Sister received a three-year sequential grant through which she obtained an MAT in Math, she tributes Sister Ruth Kribble for her encouragement to apply. She also worked with Native Americans at the Standing Rock and Crow Creek Reservations.


In retirement she continues sharing her life of faith by quilting, sewing for others and herself, taking her turn preparing Saturday suppers, preparing vegetables, serving community meals, and spending many pleasant hours volunteering in the Yankton community. S. Bernadette says, “Inspired by relatives who were priests and Sisters, I knew this is the life I was meant to have.”

Sister Matthew Wehri


Sister Matthew Wehri was born to the late Frank and Kathryn Wehri and raised with two brothers and one sister on the family farm near Haymarsh, North Dakota. She attended the area parish school at St. Clement’s in Haymarsh and St. Mary’s High School in Richardton, North Dakota. Entering SHM in 1954, she took English and religion courses at Mount Marty College. She also worked in the Vestment Department from the time she was a candidate.


Her ministries have included gardening, cooking, sewing, house-keeping, and serving as Eucharistic Minister. A unique opportunity of ministry also included serving at the Bishop’s House in Sioux Falls for nearly a year.
Sister was a housekeeper at the college for 22 years. Included in her multi-talented repertoire was learning to upholster furniture. For over 40 years, S. Matthew has done bank deposits and post office errands for the Monastery Business Office. Sister presently assists at Mount Marty College planting flowers and recycling and serving the St. Joseph Care Center as a seamstress. She gives credit for her skills to S. Regula Schirmer (furniture care), S. Alban Schramm (drapes), and S. Marie Helene Werdel (cleaning, scrubbing, etc.). She felt these women taught her more than any formal classes. S. Matthew writes about her life of faith in this way: “As I look back over these years, I’m happy about them. I’ve had good times and bad times, but God has helped me through it all and I thank Him.”

Sister Louise Marie Goettertz


Sister Louise Marie Goettertz daughter of the late Chris and Elizabeth Goettertz, was raised on the family farm of rural Freeman, South Dakota. The faith and life of her parents influenced her readiness to find God in the nature she so loved. Listening to “The Call” of the Lord in her heart that she experienced one summer afternoon out in a pasture, she marveled at the summer sounds and the gentle quiet around her… “I heard a gentle but strong voice come from deep within ‘Go to the convent!’ I knew in some unexplainable way this to be the Lord’s voice.” She entered Sacred Heart Monastery on August 20, 1954. The Benedictine Sisters touched her spirit by their prayerfulness, goodness, and happiness. She graduated from Mount Marty High School and then Mount Marty College with a Bachelor’s degree in Education. She also earned a Masters of Education degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Sister had a passion for teaching children and for 38 years she served in South Dakota, Colorado, and Nebraska. She then became the Director of Religious Education for St. Benedict Parish, Yankton, South Dakota, for 16 years. Two trips to Europe were highlights in her life: one with the Christ the King Church Choir of Sioux Falls, singing at the Vatican and the other, a “Benedictine Roots Pilgrimage” to Benedictine sites in Italy, Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland. Sister has retired now to SHM but continues to share her life of faith by serving in several ministries, including hospitality for the Monastery Peace Center, teaching adults who experience difficulties in reading, taking care of the Monastery art, serving on the Mount Marty College Board of Trustees, and driving Sisters to appointments. She shares with her Sisters her talents of calligraphy, liturgical art work, card making, baking, and creative writing. Of the blessings in her life, she states, “Being out in nature has always been both gift and awareness of the presence of God to me.”

S. Madonna Schmitt


Sister Madonna Schmitt, daughter of the late Frank and Nettie Schmitt, grew up one-half mile east of Epiphany, SD. “I was surrounded by faith-filled relatives, people of virtue, honesty, and kindness… our daily lives included familial and public prayer.” Her entrance to SHM proved to be challenging because her aunt, Mother Jerome Schmitt, was prioress. “I was torn between experiencing her as an exacting authority figure and a loving, devoted Aunt.” After entering SHM in 1942, she attended Mount Marty High School, received her Bachelor of Arts from Mount Marty College, a Bachelor of Liturgical Music from the Gregorian Institute of America, and a Masters in Music Education from USD.


She ministered as a liturgist and music instructor in Webster, Zell, Hoven, Sacred Heart Grade School and Mount Marty High School in Yankton, South Dakota and in York, Nebraska. She was Postulant Directress at SHM for six years and at the same time taught chorus, piano, and speech at Mount Marty High School. After MMHS closed in 1969, she returned to music on the elementary level at Little Flower and Christ the King Schools in Sioux Falls. She was a Parish Minister in the Grand Island Diocese, Nebraska, and in St. Michael’s Parish in Sioux Falls. She served in Pastoral Care in the late 1980s and finished the Clinical Pastoral Education Program in Rochester, Minnesota for chaplaincy at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


Since retiring, she continues sharing her life of faith by volunteering at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital and Mount Marty College. She is also an avid gardener. S. Madonna writes, “In the year 2016, I will have walked the way of St. Benedict for seventy years. Mine has been a richly rewarding journey of peaks and valleys, ups and downs, fully cognizant that God is very much in all of it! How I wish that those who are searching God’s plan might take that leap of faith and experience the richness of the GIFT that is mine.”

Golden Jubilarians

S. Jennifer Kehrwald


Sister Jennifer Kehrwald celebrated her 50 years of religious profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD, on July 23, in the presence of her community, family, and friends. S. Jennifer Kehrwald grew up in Yankton, SD, and is the daughter of Pearl and Walter Kehrwald. She attended Sacred Heart Grade School and Mount Marty High School in Yankton, being educated by the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton for 12 years. She was also encouraged by one of the sisters to “come and see.” The whole Catholic culture Sister lived in provided support for her decision, beginning with her parents. After entering Sacred Heart Monastery she pursued a degree in German and a minor in Chemistry. Before becoming a full time instructor, she engaged in travel with the Foreign Study League with S. Angeline Keating to Germany and Austria and spent a summer as a care-taker in Tennessee. After final profession, Sister Jennifer taught at O’Gorman High School. This was followed by graduate studies at the University of St. Louis where she earned a Masters in Religious Studies.


Sister Jennifer’s ministries have included teaching at the college level, serving various health systems in Minnesota, Ohio, North Dakota, and South Dakota, notably serving as Regional Director in North Dakota and South Dakota, President of Benedictine Health System in Yankton, Chaplain, and as Procurator or Business Manager and Prioress of Sacred Heart Monastery.

Sister Jennifer most recently was Canonical Administrator with the Benedictine Sisters in Crookston, Minnesota. She has finished this ministry and is now on Sabbatical until September. Of her Jubilee she says, “I am grateful for the call to join the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton and for God’s faithfulness in helping me live out that call. My life has been full of surprises, all of which have been blessings to me. I have enjoyed the opportunity to know, love, and serve, not only my own community, but many Sisters from other Benedictine communities.”

S. Joyce Streff


Sister Joyce Streff celebrated her 50 years of religious profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD, on July 23, in the presence of her community, family, and friends. S. Joyce is the daughter of the late Henry and Joyce Stress of Salem, SD, and was the youngest of four raised on the family farm. She attended St. Mary’s Catholic School for all 12 years. The experience of growing up in this faith community and background fostered her initial response to seek out her vocation to a religious community of Sisters. This process was fostered more with her contact with Sister Amica and the Benedictines of Sacred Heart Monastery in her high school years. S. Joyce entered the monastery in 1964, made first monastic profession on June 29, 1966, and made perpetual monastic profession in 1970.


Sister Joyce has ministered mainly in health care for 40 years. She was trained to be an Occupational Therapist and then trained to be a hospital chaplain. She has ministered to the people of God in Ohio, Colorado, Nebraska, and South Dakota. This hospital ministry has been very rewarding and fulfilling for her, and she knows it is of service to all people. She presently works as a Board Certified Chaplain at Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, NE.

Sister Joyce claims that her faith, religious community, and her family are the heart and soul of her life. She declares, “I would not be where I am today without my faith, family, and religious community.” The 50 years have seemed to go quickly, but she is very grateful for all of the years and people she has met and the places to which she has traveled. She claims, “It is with great joy and blessings to be able to celebrate 50 years as a Yankton Benedictine from Sacred Heart Monastery.”

S. Kathryn Easley


Sister Kathryn Easley celebrated her 50 years of religious profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD, on July 23, in the presence of her community, family, and friends. S. Kathryn grew up in Lincoln, NE, the daughter of the late Robert and Kathryn Easley. She graduated from Catholic grade school, and high school in Lincoln, NE, and Loretto Heights College in Denver, Colorado. Having attended only Catholic schools, she was familiar with many different orders of Sisters. S. Kathryn says, “I became acquainted with our Benedictine Sisters who staffed our parish grade school, Cathedral of the Risen Christ (then Holy Family). I returned to teach there for a year after graduation from college. The sisters lived two houses away from our home. I was drawn by their joy and their warm family spirit. I didn’t have the Monastic words or a deep thoughtful reflection for my relationship with them at the time. They just became my friends… .”

Family Life

In addition to the influence of the Sisters themselves, Sister says, “My parents and family played a significant role in my desire to become a Sister. Our parents were faith-filled witnesses of the Catholic Faith in many ways, most memorable being their daily Mass attendance and their consistent involvement in and service to the Church. It was no surprise I would have their love and support in my decision to enter religious life for which I am most grateful.” On choosing religious life by entering in 1964, Sister says, “I knew I wanted to serve the Church, and I wanted to be a part of the Benedictines. I found a joy-filled community of women, seeking Christ who were committed to prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Eucharist, and service. I am in awe and feel blessed to have received my calling to monastic life at Sacred Heart Monastery.” She made first profession in 1966.


Sister Kathryn continued being involved in Catholic education as an instructor and as a principal. She taught in Lincoln and Hartington, NE; Yankton and Vermillion, SD; and 30 years in the Sioux Falls Catholic School System in Sioux Falls, SD. For the past 18 years she has ministered at O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls. She was elected prioress at SHM and served from 1989 to 1997.

For her, Jubilee is a celebration of God’s love, presence, and guidance on her journey as a Benedictine sister. Jubilee is a celebration of her family, her Benedictine family, and her friends. Jubilee is a celebration of hope and joy for the years to come. Sister Kathryn shared her favorite quote from the Rule: “Prefer nothing whatever to Christ and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

S. Margo Tschetter


Sister Margo Tschetter celebrated her 50 years of religious profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD, on July 23, in the presence of her community, family, and friends. S. Margo was born in Yankton, SD, to Verdi and Hattie (Velek) Tschetter and was a student in Hoven, Tabor, and Yankton, SD.  Having Yankton Benedictines as teachers influenced her toward the religious life, she joined the convent in 1964 and made first monastic profession in 1966. She graduated from Mount Marty College and then taught in Lincoln, NE, and Sioux Falls, SD. Sister Margo continued to teach and taught at Hope Preschool for 7 years and at Sacred Heart School in Yankton for 34 years. Sister Margo and S. Joelle Bauer co-founded Hope Preschool and taught in it from 1972- 1979. Since retiring, she has been helping with activities for the Care Center Sisters, tutoring people from the Yankton Abilities Building Center in Yankton, and teaching ERTH (Ecummenical Religious Training for the Handicapped program), which she co-formed 37 years ago.


Throughout her life, beginning in the first grade through high school, she had Yankton Benedictines for teachers. She states, “It only stands to reason that since I felt called to religious life it would be to the Yankton Benedictines. The joyful presence of these Sisters was the biggest influence in my life. As a Benedictine and a teacher, I had many opportunities in the past 45 years to plant the seeds for Benedictine men and women who try to live out The Rule of St. Benedict.” Sister Margo goes on to say, “I find it hard to believe that I have lived the Benedictine life for fifty years. I thank God daily for being a Benedictine Sister at Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton.”

S. Marietta Kerkvliet


Golden Jubilee: S. Marietta Kerkvliet

Sister Marietta Kerkvliet celebrated her 50 years of religious profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD, on July 23, in the presence of her community, family, and friends. S. Marietta grew up in Salem, SD, and is the middle child of seven of the late John and Elizabeth Kerkvliet. She attended St. Mary’s Grade and High School, Immaculate Conception Academy in Dubuque, IA, and Mount Marty College in Yankton, SD. She entered Sacred Heart Monastery in 1964, made first monastic profession on June 29, 1966, and perpetual profession in November 25, 1972.


Sister Marietta’s ministries have included teaching grade school and being a Religious Education Director. She returned to the monastery to be Vocation Director. She continues to serve in various ways, including serving on the Mount Marty College Board, being Liturgical Director, and guiding Sisters in formation. She writes, “The possibility of being a Sister stood in front of me every day as I was taught by the Bernadines and later the Yankton Benedictines. A prayer for vocations was among our family prayers. So it was with a great deal of support that I entered Sacred Heart Monastery. Often we were invited by our teachers to consider religious life, and S. Rose invited me to Sacred Heart Monastery when I was completing high school at St. Mary’s in Salem. Her belief in me enabled me to ‘give it a try.’ When I entered, I did not know much about the differences in religious communities but found the way of Benedict to be a wonderful fit for me; it provided strong community support for prayer, work, and growth personally and spiritually. Celebrating 50 years has called me to pause and give thanks for God’s presence in my life, especially in my Benedictine Sisters who have provided stability on the journey, encouragement in the challenges, and role models to follow. Life lived together has been God’s greatest gift to me and enables me to reach out to others in many ways unrealized when I first knocked at the door. It is with a heart full of joy and gratitude to God, my Sisters, my family, and those with whom I have ministered that I celebrate this year of Jubilee.”

“Prairie Praise History Video”

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Reflections for Sr. Virginia Kopp by S. Bonita Gacnik

Yankton Benedictine Sister Virginia Kopp

Sister Virginia poses with her “sibling sisters,” visiting her at the monastery.

Eugenia Olivia was born July 9, 1914 near Richardton, N.D., the third of 13 children of Melchior and Margaret (Hagel) Kopp. At the age of 3, the family moved to a ranch near Helena, Montana. However, the family returned to Richardton, ND two years later when the children were of school age. “Catholic education was of prime importance to her parents” and there was not a Catholic school near Helena. The Kopp children attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Richardton taught by the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton. By the age of 10, Sr. Virginia was already planning to become a sister and was sure she would be in a convent somewhere by the age of 15. Sr. Virginia writes, …  full S. Virginia reflection.

blankS. Marielle Frigge (right) with Dawn Nothwehr, OSF (left)

Spring Theology Institute 

The Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery had a special gathering Saturday morning, April 11, from 9:00 a.m. until noon in the Chapter Room. S. Dawn Nothwehr, OSF, Ph.D. stretched our Benedictine hearts as she presented on “Ecological Footprints: Catholic Environmental Ethics in a Franciscan Key.”   She also gave an overview of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si” on the environment – a good reminder to praise God for the wonder of creation and to care for this gift. For more information on this event please visit the link on our webpage

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Avera Majestic Bluffs Hospice House Blessing and Ribbon Cutting

A blessing and ribbon cutting was held Wednesday, March 30, at the Avera Majestic Bluffs Hospice House.The residential hospice facility will open April 5 and is the first of its kind in Yankton. It will provide a peaceful setting where spiritual, emotional and physical care can be administered to those who are in the final stages of life.The facility is part of the Avera Majestic Bluffs campus located at 2111 W. 11th Street, Yankton. It was constructed as part of the Avera Sister James Care Center addition that was completed in late 2015.

Contributions from a few individuals that day…

Doug Ekeren, Regional President and CEO of Avera Sacred Heart Hospital, was the master of ceremonies for the blessing and ribbon cutting.

Sr. Penny Bingham, OSB, Prioress at Sacred Heart Monastery, provided a prayer and sponsor message, while Father Ken Lulf did the blessing.

Mary Pistulka, RN, of [email protected], shared a touching message about how the completion of the facility was the realization of a long-term dream for her.

Finally, Tony Erickson, Executive Director of Senior Services for Avera Sacred Heart Hospital, spoke about the history of Avera Majestic Bluffs and how the Hospice House fits into the original vision for the campus.

Among the amenities offered at the facility are:

The Hospice House offers six private, home-like suites where loved ones can accompany the patient on their journey. An interdisciplinary team of specially trained professionals and volunteers from Avera Sacred Heart Hospital and [email protected] will provide medical assistance required for end-of-life care.

  • A natural setting that emphasizes light and cheerful, open views;
  • An assurance of privacy and dignity;
  • Private patient rooms, bathrooms and living/dining rooms;
  • Visitor sleeping accommodations;
  • A small meditation room to accommodate spiritual needs;
  • A community lounge, living room and dining area where families can gather;
  • accessability to the Town Center at Avera Sister James Care Center;
  • Staff and a certified caregiver available around the clock.

Coverage information provided by Avera

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Honoring St. Joe’s Legacy – Re-purposing and Recycling

A well-known landmark, St. Joseph’s house, for the Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery was leveled on March 7. The building itself was built with thick plastered walls and ceilings, concrete foundation and a brick exterior. Items that could be re-used were removed prior to that date, which included: light fixtures, locks, acoustical ceiling tile, shelving, beds, cupboards, and storm windows, etc. The first part of the process started with a demolition company stripping out additional wood and materials inside the building. Then, the demolition team separated wood, metal, bricks, and concrete from other debris.  The metal was taken to a recycling plant in Yankton, the bricks and concrete were ground into gravel, some of the wood was repurposed and other debris was taken to an approved landfill near Vermillion.

Because so many materials were able to be recycled, the amount actually going to the landfill was considerably less than originally estimated and gratefully so!  This leveling proved to be good for the environment and Keeping Yankton Beautiful while also decreasing the total cost of the project.  The land the building stood on has been restored to its natural state with new top soil and will be planted with grass this spring.

History of St. Joseph

St. Joseph’s was built in 1947 and was located at the end of the cemetery road, its initial intended use was for single men who worked on the monastery farm. It then changed to a place for families to dwell, as a men’s residence for college students for several years, and more recently as a women’s residence for college students.  The monastery also used St. Joe’s as a residence for one of the monastery living groups during the remodeling of the 1960 monastery building and during the summers for guests and retreats.

The last resident of the building was Ernie Gullikson who had lived in a basement apartment with his dad and brother during his youth.  Ernie returned as a monastery employee and again lived in the apartment for the last 25+ years, serving as caretaker of the building in addition to his full-time work in grounds keeping and other duties.

Nuns ensure Avera stays true to mission


Article by Jodi Schwan

A high-ranking executive at Avera Health plans to walk into a meeting sometime soon and quote from a recent snippet in Reader’s Digest. It tells the satirical story of an executive who decided that to equalize pay between genders all employess would see a… see more of Nuns ensure Avera stays true to mission.

MMC Lancer Basketball Pride- Great Season! – Sacred Heart Monastery Sisters

Sisters gathered in the Chapter Room of Sacred Heart Monastery Friday, Saturday, and Monday evenings to cheer on the Lancer women as they played in the NAIA Division II basketball tournament.  After a steady rise to the national level, the Mount Marty women won their first three games of the tournament, against Purdue Calument (Indiana), College of the Ozarks (Missouri) and Olivet Nazareen (Illinois.)  As noted by the announcer at Monday’s game the Mount Marty Lancers went from not being on the radar to playing at the National level.  After a great run, they lost to Marian University in the semi-final round of the tournament. The Sisters were in agreement that this was a special season for the MMC  Lancer women and the College (84-55).


S. Candyce Chrystal, who attends as many games as possible, commented, “Watching the game Monday I kept thinking, look at how far we have come. This whole season has been a wonderful boost for support of the proposed field house that has been in the works for several years.”

Sister Debra Kolecka also commented, “I’ve very proud of the girls…wow! I have Kellie Winckler as a prayer partner and we also share the same hometown, I’ve been very proud of her progress, she started playing varsity as a freshman and has done a great job of leading the Lady Lancers. One of the traditions I have with her is texting her after each game.”

The Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery look forward to the return of the Women Basketball team and are grateful for the blessing of their wonderful witness to all of the Colleges values.

National Tournament Game

From Left to right (S. Maribeth and S. Sharon Ann at Thursday’s game in Sioux City) Middle Image ( Group image of Sisters in the Chapter Room) Postulant Theresa Lafferty, S. Donatha Gunda and guest.

Wake Up The World!

IMG_3858 copyThe Benedictine Sisters of Yankton celebrated the closing of the Year of Consecrated life in the Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel on Sunday, February 7th at 10:00 am. Fr. Valerian, Sacred Heart Monastery and Mount Marty Chaplain, celebrated the Mass. Following Mass, fellowship along with coffee, juice, and treats were served in the Chapter Room.

    More pictures of the day at:

Cards, Catch Phrase and Candy!

IMG_3536On Wednesday, December 2, students from Mount Marty College and their prayer partners gathered together for prayer in the Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel. The evening transitioned to an evening of laughter and fellowship playing various board games, traditional Uno and a couple brand new wildcard games!

135th Anniversary of Sacred Heart Monastery

Snippet from Blog, written by S. Carol Jean November 17, 2015 135th Birthday cake 001Our founding sisters left their soaring Swiss Alps for the wide plains of the Dakota Territory, and 135 years ago today, they were founded as a Benedictine order within the Diocese of the Dakota Territory. Our sisters set down deep roots in the late 1890’s on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River in Yankton, South Dakota. In 1920, the Convent of the Sacred Heart still overshadowed the young silver maple, catalpa, and evergreen trees that would one day tower into the sky. ‪#‎ycl2015‬

Sisters Honored During Watertown Basketball Game

Watertown BB game 002_04The Mount Marty College women’s basketball team hosted Presentation College in a non-conference game held in Watertown on Tuesday, November 10. The more than 500 Lancer and Saint fans in attendance had the opportunity to not only cheer on their team during the game but to also cheer, honor and recognize a special group of women.

Prior to the starting line-ups of the varsity game between the Lancers and Saints, the Sisters from Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, Mother of God Monastery in Watertown and Presentation Convent in Aberdeen were recognized and honored for their service to both colleges and their communities. As soon as the game announcer began to speak about the Sisters, the crowd immediately burst into applause.

The Sisters from these organizations have played and continue to play a pivotal role in the success of both Mount Marty College and Presentation College. Serving as founders, leaders, teachers, mentors and much more over the years, it was evident that the Watertown community and all those in attendance truly appreciated all these Sisters have done for the colleges and their communities. There were 16 Sisters at the game, with representatives from all three monasteries present. Article credit Shannon Vierek

Residential Volunteer Program featured in SD Magazine A Prayerful Life


Image article Here!


Sr. Bonita Gacnik – Benedictine Hightlight in Siouxland Woman

SiouxLandWomen_ArticleResidential Volunteer Program, Yankton SD Program Director, Sr. Bonita Gacnik, shared insight to the Benedictine life and a highlight or two of the Residential Volunteer Program in the latest issue! Please see: or 




FiVolunteer Blessingrst Residential Volunteer, Susan Erlemeier, welcomed to Sacred Heart Monastery On Friday October 9, Susan Erlemeier, a dentist from Monroe, Louisiana, arrived after two days of driving as Sacred Heart Monastery’s first Residential Volunteer.  Upon her arrival, Susan noted the beauty of this area.  She commented, “The season of fall is a fitting time for change.”  She will allow her time as a Residential Volunteer to be an opportunity for reflection and discernment as she considers a new chapter in her life.

Susan’s plan is to volunteer in residence at the monastery for six months. Susan’s volunteer ministry will begin in the mornings at the Monastery Bakery when she assists Sister Barbara Kowalkowski.  On her first day in the bakery, Susan commented with a smile while buttering bread, “I’ve done a lot of cooking, just not a lot of baking.”  During her first week, she will also assist in the Monastery Gift Shop with Sister Francine Streff. Outside of her hours working in these ministry areas she will have time for enrichment in various interests. These interests may include participation in Mount Marty College activities, interaction and leisure activities with Sisters, and experiencing nature, to name a few.

On Sunday, October 11, Sister Bonita Gacnik, Director of the Residential Volunteer Program, introduced Susan to the Monastic Community, and Sister Penny Bingham, prioress of the monastery, lead the Sisters in prayer and a blessing to formally welcome Susan into the program. The Residential Volunteer Program provides an opportunity for enrichment, not only for the volunteers, but also for the Sisters.  The Sisters look forward to sharing times of prayer, ministry, and recreation with the Residential Volunteers. The former home of Bishop Martin Marty will be the initial residence for volunteers participating in the program. To stay informed and see updates of her experience on various media sources, visit the links on the bottom of our Residential Volunteer page at


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5th Annual Candlelight Vigil

Ss. Penny Bingham, Kathryn Burt, Mary Carole Curran, Phyllis Hunhoff, Mary Jo Polak, and Peggy Venteicher showed support to the victims and survivors of domestic violence Friday evening, October 9th, by serving cookies to those attending the 5th annual Candlelight Vigil put on by the River City Domestic  Violence Center. The cookies were prepared by several Sisters in various living groups at Sacred Heart Monastery. Participation in this event and other outreach needs of the community expresses the Sisters’ passion for others as they continue to live their mission of service – serving God’s people in this time and place.

(From Left to Right) Mary Pa Bierlet, Jo Ann Lambertz., Janine Tramp, Jennifer Powell, Lea Ann Schramm, Linda Stevens, Celia Miner, Kathy Grow

(From Left to Right)
Mary Pa Bierlet, Jo Ann Lambertz., Janine Tramp, Jennifer Powell, Lea Ann Schramm, Linda Stevens, Celia Miner, Kathy Grow

In-house concert- Mirabile!

The Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery had special reception Thursday evening, October 1, at 7:00 p.m. in the Chapter room for a themed presentation from Mirabile “Some Reason, A lot of Rhyme!” Music enjoyed ranged from a golden oldie “Mister Sandman” by Pat Ballard, to a harmonic version of “Call of the Flowers,” to the WWII favorite “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” to a rousing spiritual, and others. Mirabile is Mary Pat Bierle, Kathy Grow, JoAnn Lambertz, Celia Miner, Jennifer Powell, Lea Ann Schramm, Linda Stevens, and Janine Tramp. They have been singing together since 2011.

Bishop Paul J. Swain Visit

Bishop Paul J. Swain celebrating Mass in Bishop Marty Chapel, Yankton, marking the Benedictines’ role as part of those celebrating The Year of Consecrated Life. Mount Marty College’s Chaplain, Fr. Thomas Wordekemper was Bishop’s assistant. (Left) After Mass, Bishop Paul J. Swain visited the Sisters in the Care Center dining room and then joined the Sisters and college ambassadors in the main dining room for brunch. After brunch he shared a blessing with the Sisters and guest students who then began their training as Ambassadors. (Bottom Right)

Bishop Paul J. Swain Visits Yankton Community

Bishop Paul J. Swain came to Bishop Marty Chapel on Sunday, September 13, to celebrate Mass in light of the Year of Consecrated Life.  He was assisted by Mount Marty College’s Champlain, Father Thomas Wordekemper. Bishop Swain’s homily that Sunday, September 13, was a powerful message for the Sisters and also for the rest of the community gathered. In his homily, Bishop Swain shared excerpts from Pope Francis’ apostolic letter on Consecrated Life in which the pope focused on three main points. The first was, “Look at the past with gratitude.” The Bishop commented: “It increases our sense of belonging.” The second papal admonition was, “Live the present with passion.” After a short pause the bishop asked, “Is Jesus really our first and only love?” He said, “Only through this will we be empowered to love in truth and mercy anyone who crosses our path.” The pope’s third point, “Embrace the future with hope,” the bishop said “is not based on statistics but on accomplishments, on awareness that the Holy Spirit stirs us to keep moving on.” After Mass Bishop Swain visited the Sisters in the Care Center and then joined the rest of the Sisters and the college Ambassadors for brunch in the main monastery dining room. He greeted the student guests, who were just beginning their training as Ambassadors, and then blessed the entire group. After the meal Sister Margretta Doyle expressed to Bishop Paul J. Swain what seemed to be the feeling of everyone present when she said to him, “I’m so glad you came to visit, thank you.”

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You-Tube Video of Mass with Bishop Paul J. Swain 9/13/15

Sister Leonette Celebrates 100 years

S. Leonette Hoesing

Sister Leonette Hoesing with her “money tree” that features 100, 2015 issued Nebraska quarters. A gift given with love from family and friends.

On Saturday, September 12, Sister Leonette celebrated her 100th birthday at her home at Sacred Heart Monastery in the care center. The community will celebrate her birthday Saturday afternoon with a special coffee hour and much singing. Several weeks ago a group of her former novices got together for an hour of ice cream treats and much story-telling of days past as Sister Leonette’s novices. There have also been other small celebrations along the way.

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Sister Leonette Hoesing was born the second of ten children to Fred and Elizabeth Hoesing on a farm two miles north of Menominee, NE. One of Sister Leonette’s clearest memories of being called to this vocation as a Sister was during her high school experience, when Sister Cyrilla asked the students at the end of a test, “What do you plan to do when you leave here?  S. Leonette said, “It was funny. I have never thought of it before, but at that moment I knew I had to say I wanted to be a Sister. From that moment on the thought never left me.” She entered Sacred Heart Convent on September 4, 1933. Sister Leonette recently celebrated another milestone, her 80th Jubilee, celebrating the number of years she has been a sister this August, with much joy and grace. A few highlights of her life as a Sister include: being a novice director, for many years, taking a trip to the Holy Land, responding to a bishop’s call for help with a group of Sisters in his diocese, and also the long time spent as a choir director. Sister Leonette service in her various ministries were always supported by a sense of prayerfulness. “Prayer is an important part of my life” she often said, and the Gregorian Chants that were brought to life as she was choir director only added to her love of prayer. A unique and cherished gift given to Sister Leonette was a “money tree” a metal tree frame with 100, 2015 issued Nebraska quarters which feature the Homestead Monument. Many family members and friends joined in the effort of creating this tree with “wishes for many more happy and productive years.”  The Benedictine community and those others who know her would strongly agree that this is how she makes any years. Sister Leonette states “I have a great deal of gratitude for my parents and brothers and sisters as well as my Community Sisters—and to God.”

Welcome Class of 2015

The end of August is an indication of new beginnings. On Friday, August 28, before school started Sacred Heart Monastery welcomed Mount Marty College’s Freshman to campus. During the afternoon, the sisters hosted a “ice cream social” in the Monastic Chapter room.  We joyfully opened our doors to the new students, for the Rule of Benedict says “Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for He is going to say, “I came as a guest, and you received Me” (Matt. 25:35). And to all let due honor be shown, especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims” (chapter 53). For more pictures of this event Visit our Picture sharing site Flickr

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S. Eileen Neville with incoming freshman from Mount Marty.

125th Sioux Falls Diocese Anniversary Celebration ended with smiles!

Bishop Paul Swain BishopMartin Marty Legacy Faith 125 Yankton Benedictines Sacred Heart Monastery Sisters

On left cutout of the first bishop in the diocese Bishop Martin Marty and current bishop (right) Bishop Paul J. Swain.

The Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, SD spent time at the 125th Legacy Event, in Sioux Falls, August 14-16, the final event concluding the year-long celebration of the anniversary of the diocese, this involved attending events, educating and sharing their story alongside the visual of a Bishop Martin Marty cutout. Marty, who began his South Dakota career in Yankton, was very active in ministry to Native American and in getting the church organized so it could become a diocese.


Top Left: Rev. Khristopher Cowles from Sioux Falls, Bottom Left: Sister Barbara Kowalkowski and Right: Vocation’s Director Sister Clarice Korger

Video of The Mass of the Feast of the Assumption 11904682_1021178781235143_326765633901152171_n

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The Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, SD spent time at the 125th Legacy Event, in Sioux Falls, August 14-16, the final event concluding the year-long celebration of the anniversary of the diocese, this involved attending events, educating and sharing their story alongside the visual of a Bishop Martin Marty cutout. Marty, who began his South Dakota career in Yankton, was very active in ministry to Native American and in getting the church organized so it could become a diocese. He also had an important role in getting Sacred Heart Monastery founded. In fact, his home was, and still is located on what would become the monastery campus. A couple of sisters from Sacred Heart Monastery shared how the Legacy event impacted them and the people they encountered. Prioress Sister Penny Bingham noted “There was such enthusiasm for our shared Catholic faith today, as well as for the legacy of faith in the diocese these past 125 years. It was wonderful to share about our life with other Sisters on Friday – and with the broader audience on Saturday. And what a gift to connect with people I had known from earlier years in ministry!” Sister Mary Carole Curran shared, “It was a wonderful event, reconnecting with so many people I have known and worked with over the years. The speakers were excellent, and visiting with Bishop Kettler was a real perk.” The joy in uniting as a faith family was a high point at the closing Mass, which was in a full Convention Center Arena. Mass began with several banners representing each diocese, organization and school in the East River. Sister Bonita said “The Convention Center was alive with hundreds of people and was electric with energy.  I attended the Friday and Sunday Masses, one of the keynote addresses and 2 breakout sessions.  I was inspired and renewed by the experience.  It was a blessing for me to celebrate being Catholic with the many who were in attendance.  What a terrific example of evangelism!” The witness of a strong rooted faith and the renewal of faith for the future could be seen in various ways, it also shown through Sisters Bonita Gacnik, Carmella Luke, Eileen O’Connor, Julie Peak, Patricia Ann Toscano and Postulant Theresa Lafferty at the closing mass, singing joyful hymns with the diocesan choir. For more information visit the Facebook page for Sacred Heart Monastery at or website for pictures, stories and facts about the beautiful witness of faith of this past weekend.


  Tabor Beseda Dancers!

A group of young Beseda Dancers (which means visit) from Tabor came to   educate and entertain the Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery on Thursday, August 13. The specific group that came to entertain the sisters ranged in age from 5th-8th grade. There is twenty-four groups that Director Loretta Kortan teaches. Learn more information about the Czech style dances and classes by calling her at


2015 Jubilee Celebrations

A private community celebration was held at Sacred Heart Monastery on Friday July 31, to honor the five Sisters celebrating their 80th , 75th and 60th year Jubilarians.

Diamond Jubilees

Back row: (left to right) Prioress Penny Bingham, S. Jane McGowen, S. Marita Kolbeck and Subprioress Jeanne Weber Front row: (left to right) S. Jeanette Klimisch, S. Laeticia Kilzer and S. Leonette Hoesing

IMG_2660 copy         Celebrating their Fiftieth Jubilee of Monastic Profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD were Sisters Marielle Frigge and Janice Mayer. Celebrating her Twenty-Fifth Jubilee of Monastic Profession was Sister Maribeth Wentzlaff.  Family and friends joined the Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery at a Mass celebrated by Father Thomas Wordekemper, OSB  on July 11, 2015 coinciding on the community’s  Feast Day of St. Benedict. Ss. Marielle, Janice and Maribeth renewed their monastic profession in the presence of S. Penny Bingham, prioress.

Golden Jubilarians

Prioress Penny Bingham (left) and Subprioress Jeanne Weber (right) take a moment out of the celebration to capture the day with Golden Jubilarians Ss. Marielle and Janice.

Silver Jubilarian

Prioress Penny Bingham (left) and Subprioress Jeanne Weber (right) take a moment out of the celebration to capture the day with Silver Jubilarian S. Maribeth.

Diamond Jubilarians

Sister Marita Kolbeck - 60 Years

Sister Marita Kolbeck introduces her life history by sharing facts about her origin. S. Marita Kolbeck is the seventh of eleven children born to Joseph and Clara Kolbeck on a farm near Salem, SD. Her Catholic education at St. Mary’s school in Salem began in the sixth grade after previous boarding at the SD School for the Deaf in Sioux Falls. S. Marita remembers it was her first encounter with nuns and she was awestruck by the black habits the Bernadine Sisters wore as they were her teachers at that time. After graduation from St. Mary’s High School, in 1952 S. Marita attended Mount Marty College for one year. She entered Sacred Heart Monastery on August 20, 1953. After professing monastic vows on June 29, 1955, S. Marita worked in the registrar’s office and the college bookstore at Mount Marty for 12 years. She graduated from St. Mary’s Junior College in Minneapolis in 1969 as a certified occupational therapy assistant. She set up that program at St. Thomas More Hospital annex in Canon City, CO. before moving on to the education of deaf students. Additional missions included the deaf ministry, in Sioux Falls, SD and Milwaukee, WI and Fairbault, MN.; pastoral care, in O’Neill, NE, special needs religious education program; Sioux Falls, SD. She moved back to Sacred Heart Monastery in June, 2009 where she currently works as administrative assistant editing the monastery’s Newsletter, in the Gift Shop and the Peace Center. S. Marita writes, “Looking back on 60 years of Benedictine living, I feel I have grown so much and had the benefit of many educational opportunities and travels. I treasure the time spent touring the Holy Land in 1992 and the Rome monastic experience in 1998. So many wonderful people have touched my life and for all that I can only render praise and thanks to God – the giver of all that is good and true.”

Sister Jane McGowen - 60 Years

Sister Jane McGowen begins her story by crediting her family’s love and goodness to each other as the primary influencing factor in her decision to choose religious life. Her parents, James and Rose McGowen were of Irish descent and described as very devout Catholics. After graduating from Holy Trinity High School, Jane entered Sacred Heart Monastery in August, 1953. She professed her monastic vows on June 29, 1955 and began her nursing career at Sacred Heart School of Nursing and Sacred Heart School of X-ray Technology in Yankton. S. Jane earned her BS in Radiology at St. Louis University and MS in Radiologic Science at the University of Cincinnati. She enjoyed her years of working as a nurse, a health care educator and as a radiologic technologist in hospital positions in CO, MO, IA, VA and SD. Looking back on her experiences, Jane writes, “I have come to believe that the professionals, especially those of religion and medicine, have an awesome influence and responsibility toward mankind.” Jane writes, “My past Jubilees of profession as a Yankton Benedictine Sister have been by far the happiest days of my life!” Today, while reflecting on 60 years of Benedictine living, she is grateful as she celebrates another jubilee and for the enrichments she received in her religious life. She cherishes a special love for Avera Sacred Heart Hospital, and whenever she is able, she goes there to assist for some clerical work. She adds, “I believe one good example is worth 10,000 words.” In her autobiography S. Jane writes: “All things work unto good for those who love God.”

Sister Laeticia Kilzer - 75 Years

Sister Laeticia Kilzer like many in her generation, was raised on a farm, with her twin brother Edmund, south of Bentley, ND. Her parents, Frank and Klara Kilzer had 12 siblings. S. Laeticia entered Sacred Heart Convent on August 29, 1938 and made monastic profession in 1940. Her many years of ministry were in education where she taught at all levels from elementary to college including 33 years of teaching chemistry at Mount Marty College. She held a BA degree from the College of St. Benedict in MN, a MA in chemistry from the University of South Dakota, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame.   Summers were spent in chemical research, and in 1972-73 she took a sabbatical year in Bonn, Germany doing research in an environmental laboratory. At age 95, celebrating her 75th Jubilee, S. Laeticia states, “Catholic faith and practice, family and education were important values in our family and all of those things drew me to Benedictine life. The support of close community ties, shared prayer, life and fun times together, an excellent education and the opportunity to serve many students as a teacher for decades, all made mine a very good life. There were some hard things in my monastic life too, but everyone has hard things, and none of them killed me; I learned and grew through all of them. I have kind and loving care from the sisters and the people who work in our care center, and I am so grateful for it all and for everyone in my life.”

Sister Jeanette Klimisch - 75 Years

S. Jeanette Klimisch Also starts her life story by telling of her and her twin they were the youngest of eight children born to Anton and Martha Klimisch, were raised on the family farm north of Yankton in the Sigel parish. Entering Mount Marty Academy introduced young S. Jeanette to new educational challenges and to the Benedictine Sisters. She was surprised and delighted when she discovered her twin sister and another classmate discerned independently the same vocation! S. Jeanette entered Sacred Heart Monastery in 1938 and made monastic profession on June 24, 1940.

Her teaching career began at Mount Marty High School teaching a variety of courses. She also served as Mother Jerome Schmitt’s personal secretary. Her specialty was in teaching speech, theatre, and music and she enjoyed directing the many plays, musicals and pageants at Mount Marty College and Sacred Heart Monastery. S. Jeanette earned her BA degree from St. Mary-of-the-Woods in IN and her Master’s degree in Speech and Drama at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She devoted four summers abroad to study theatre with the Foreign Study League. Additional mission work included Academic Dean of Mount Marty College serving on the SD Health and Education Facilities Board, the Monastery Council and other hospital Boards of Trustees, Sub-prioress and teaching at Mount Marty College until 1992 when she received the title Professor Emeritus.

In retirement she developed an oral history resource center at the monastery and enjoyed drawing and painting as hobbies. S. Jeanette feels strongly that hope for the future is anchored in living together as a “bonded community” devoted to prayer. Reflecting on her 75th Jubilee of monastic living, S. Jeanette states “I’m grateful for the years of my faithfulness to God and God’s faithfulness to me these many years!”

Sister Leonette Hoesing - 80 Years

S. Leonette Hoesing introduces her life story with details of her origin. She was born the second of ten children to Fred and Elizabeth Hoesing on a farm two miles north of Menominee, NE. Looking back, S. Leonette recalls that at the end of her sophomore year at Mount Marty Academy, S. Cyrilla asked the students at the end of a test, “What do you plan to do when you leave here?” S. Leonette said, “It was funny. I had never thought of it before, but at that moment I knew I had to say I wanted to be a Sister. From that moment on the thought never left me.” She entered Sacred Heart Convent on September 4, 1933 and made profession on June 24, 1935.

Through the years S. Leonette earned degrees from Mount Marty College, the Gregorian Institute of America, Seattle University and licensure as a Social Service Associate from the state of SD. S. Leonette taught elementary grades for 11 years in Tabor and Ipswich, SD and Lincoln, NE before she was called back to the motherhouse to serve in positions as formation director, assistant to the prioress, choir director, personnel director and oblate director. She served as prioress of St. Mary’s Priory, Victoria, British Columbia, at the request of the Holy See, and received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal of honor from the Vatican. Additional mission work included parish ministry in Grand Island, NE, Yankton, Tyndall and Springfield. She also served at South Dakota Social Services and also Sister James Nursing Home. She continued volunteering at Sister James Nursing Home and Sacred Heart Hospital until 2005.

Her spirit of volunteerism went with her into retirement at the monastery. S. Leonette writes, “In celebrating my jubilee, I am grateful to be a Benedictine and have the support of my community and to be able to pray the divine office. It’s a wonderful life, I can’t think of a life more rewarding. I’m grateful to my parents and my family for everything I have received. To celebrate 80 years is a real joy and gift.”

Golden Jubilarians

Sister Marielle Frigge

Sister Marielle Frigge celebrated her 50 years of religious profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton SD on July 11 in the presence of her community, family and friends.  S. Marielle was born on June 3, 1944, to the late John and Amalia Frigge as the youngest in a family of three girls and a boy. At the age of six she began classes in a rural school a half mile from her farm home, the same farm where her father had been born and raised, in Bow Valley, NE.  S. Marielle was one of three first graders and her teacher was her oldest sister. As a student at Mount Marty High School she came to know the Benedictine Sisters. Marielle feels she was attracted to religious life as long as she could remember.  There was that desire to know God and to develop a close relationship with God and to help others.  She finally succumbed to that desire when she entered Sacred Heart Convent in August, 1963. As a Benedictine Sister, S. Marielle zealously shared her love of scripture and theology in 32 years of teaching religious studies at Mount Marty College. Her excellent resource book, Beginning Biblical Studies, is a valuable tool for all who seek to improve their knowledge of facts related to Biblical history and religious studies.

Reflecting on her entrance into religious life Marielle states, “I entered the community less than a year after Vatican Council II began in October 1962.  As a result I lived through the tumultuous years of the later 1960s and early 1970s when United States culture, the Catholic Church and religious life were constantly undergoing monumental changes.   While that made it much more challenging to  discern and choose religious life, from today’s vantage point, I can see that the long and sometimes very difficult process of discerning and making a commitment to monastic life in such times made me much stronger in that commitment.  As St. Benedict tells us, monastic life requires lifelong, repeated transformations of life that will continue in years to come.” Marielle made monastic profession on June 29, 1965, and now fifty years later she offers two quotations that summarize what that life means to her. The first is a familiar line from Scripture: “God’s faithful love endures forever.” The second is St. Benedict’s primary instruction to monastics:  “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ” (RB 4:21, 72:11).

Sister Janice Mayer

Sister Janice Mayer celebrated her 50 years of religious profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD  on July 11 in the presence of her community, family and friends.  S. Janice, along with twin sister, Jean, grew up on a farm in the Dimock and Parkston area with twelve other siblings. Her parents, the late Peter and Clara Mayer, instilled in their children the love of church, family and farm life. Janice attended school in Dimock where she was taught by Benedictine Sisters from Yankton.   After graduation she worked five years in the Parkston Hospital before entering Sacred Heart Convent in August of 1963.

What surprised her at first in convent life, she says, was getting up so early as well as some of the food being served, like cereal for supper. After monastic profession in June 1965, S. Janice worked at the hospital in Tyndall for two years as nurse aide and as store room clerk before being assigned to Madonna Rehabilitation Home in Lincoln, Nebraska. At Madonna she worked six years as nurse aide, then  was asked to serve at St. Joseph Indian School in Chamberlain, SD. She returned to Madonna Home in Lincoln two years later in 1970  and was assigned  to Dietary as  Kitchen Supervisor and part time cook,  a position she held for 32 years until she retired to the monastery in 2006. S. Janice prefers to say she worked with the kitchen staff instead of supervising them.  She enjoyed the position and the people she helped very much. In 2005 S. Janice was honored with the Caring Kind Award at Madonna and was pleasantly surprised to see many of her family members present in Lincoln for the ceremony.

In retirement at the monastery S. Janice continues to help in assisting the Sisters in the Care Center and at activities whenever she can. Looking back on her experience as a  Benedictine, S. Janice writes, “My life has become service for others.  Mostly this has been for the elderly throughout the many years at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and now at our monastery Care Center for the older Sisters. I could not have imagined the joy and satisfaction I have received through these years, I thank God for these many blessings.”

Silver Jubilarians

Sister Maribeth Wentzlaff

Sister Maribeth Wentzlaff celebrated her 25 years of religious profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton  on July 11 in the presence of her community, family and friends. Maribeth was born in Huron, SD on January 16, 1966 to Robert (now deceased) and Marivonne (Olsen) Wentzlaff as the youngest of five children. The family moved to Miller when Maribeth was seven and she now claims Miller as her home town. After graduation from Miller High School in 1984, Maribeth visited Mount Marty College and instantly fell in love with its aesthetic beauty and the friendliness of the people. As a student at Mt. Marty College she attended several retreats, all the time feeling God was nudging her in the direction of religious life. When at last she stopped fighting it, she was able to say “yes” to God with a sense of peacefulness. Maribeth entered Sacred Heart Monastery on August 23, 1987 as a single entrant and made her first monastic profession on January 16, 1990 on her birthday. Maribeth states she felt like she “grew up as a Benedictine” because most of her early formation at home pivoted around prayer, work (doing chores), and leisure with the whole Wentzlaff family. Maribeth feels much gratitude for the love and support of her many Sister friends who have walked the journey with her, “a crowd of one,” during her formation years in religious life. Like members of her family, Maribeth loves fishing and treasures the times Sisters join in with her at this sport. After graduating from Mount Marty College in 1988, Maribeth taught at O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls until 1996. She became Director of Campus Ministry at Mount Marty College from 1996-2011 and from 2013 to the present, serving as monastery vocation director in the interval.   About her Jubilee, Maribeth writes: “These last 25 plus years have brought me such true joy and peace.  I know God drew me to these Benedictine women of Yankton so that we could multiply our gifts together for the sake of the Kingdom!  I am eager and ready for where God will call me in the next twenty five years.”

Jeanne Ranek Mildred Busch Golden Jubilee 2014

Subprioress Jeanne Weber (left) and Prioress Penny Bingham (right) take a moment out of the celebration to capture the day with Ss. Mildred and Jeanne.

Celebrating their Fiftieth Jubilee of Monastic Profession at Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, were Sisters Jeanne Ranek and Mildred Busch.   Family and friends joined the Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery at a Mass celebrated by Father Thomas Wordekemper, OSB  on July 19, 2014.    Ss. Jeanne and Mildred renewed their monastic profession in the presence of S. Penny Bingham, prioress.

Sister Jeanne (Judith) Ranek  grew up on a farm near Tyndall, SD, second in a family of  four children.  She is the daughter of the late John J. Ranek and Louise (Osborn) Ranek.   After graduating from Tyndall High School,  S. Jeanne attended Mount Marty College. graduating in 1962 with a BA in Social Science.  She says attending Mount Marty opened for her worlds academically and spiritually. That fall she entered Sacred Heart Convent.

After first profession, S. Jeanne taught at Mount Marty High School until its closure in 1969.   This was followed by graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame where she earned a Masters and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.  S. Jeanne’s ministries have included teaching at the college and graduate levels, counseling, serving as consultant and facilitator for numerous religious communities and leadership roles in the American Benedictine Academy, Association of Benedictine Retreat Centers and Monastic Interreligious Dialogue.  Since 1990, S. Jeanne has been engaged in full-time retreat ministry and continues to serve as Director of the ecumenical Spiritual Direction Ministry Formation Program.  In 2000, S. Jeanne earned a Doctor of Ministry degree in Spiritual Direction through the Graduate Theological Foundation including a summer attending Oxford University in England.

S. Jeanne continues as Director of the Benedictine Peace Center established in 2001 with the completion of a new wing of the monastery.  S. Jeanne writes:  “Fifty years have passed quickly, filled with experiences and opportunities I hadn’t dreamed would be mine.  Whatever the years before me hold, my hope is that I will be ever more attentive and responsive to the profound and amazing gift of God’s loving Presence among us.  I am deeply grateful to my family, my sisters and all those whom I have been privileged to serve in a variety of ministries.  With a long way to go yet, my hope is to attain what St. Benedict promises to a disciple after  long years of fidelity in our monastic way of life, that is:  “to run with heart enlarged on the way of God’s commandments.”

Sister Mildred Busch was born in Luverne, MN, the fourth child of  Mildred  (Kennedy) and Walter Busch.  She joined three brothers and three sisters growing up on a farm northwest of Luverne.  St. Rose of Lima parish in Garretson, SD was an anchor in her family’s faith life as her father became the first layman to lector and serve as communion minister in their church following the reforms of Vatican II.   S. Mildred graduated from Garretson High School in 1961.  She attended Mount Marty College for one year before she entered Sacred Heart Convent in 1962.  In 1967 she received her BA in history from Mount Marty and MA in education from the University of Nebraska in 1981.  For 33 years S. Mildred taught in elementary and high school levels in parish schools of Tabor and Yankton, SD; and Cedar Catholic High, Hartington and Cathedral of Risen Christ, Lincoln, NE.   She was principal for 20 of those years and she states her years in education have brought great joy and satisfaction for the privilege of being involved in the lives of hundreds of children and young people.

Throughout her years in religious life, S. Mildred was involved in community administrative areas, serving terms on the Council and numerous committee and task forces.   In 1999 she entered a new phase of ministry by serving on the task force for co-sponsorship of our Benedictine health system with the Aberdeen Presentation Sisters health system now known as Avera.   She continued to serve the health system as a member of several Avera  Hospitals Board of Directors and has been a System Member Chair for Avera Health.   In 2005 S. Mildred was appointed Community Procurator.  She loved these years of serving the community very directly, adding that “the learning curve was huge, but the challenge was enjoyable.”   Currently S. Mildred is Pastoral Administrative Assistant at St. Michael’s Parish in Lincoln, NE.  Her newest venture has been writing and sharing Guided Visualizations on Gospel passages, stories and events.   In closing S. Mildred  says,  “On my Jubilee, I celebrate with everlasting gratitude my call to the Monastery and thank God for His faithfulness.”

Back Row: S. Jeanne Weber (Subprioress) with 60th Diamond Jubilarians Ss. Anna, Patricia, Rosemary, Cynthia, Valerie, and Sr. Penny Bingham (Prioress) Front Row: 75th Diamond Jubilarian Wilma, 70th Diamond Jubilarians Jane Frances, Yvonne, Evangeline, Marie Helene, and Victorine

Back Row: S. Jeanne Weber (Subprioress) with 60th Diamond Jubilarians Ss. Anna, Patricia, Rosemary, Cynthia, Valerie, and Sr. Penny Bingham (Prioress)
Front Row: 75th Diamond Jubilarian Wilma, 70th Diamond Jubilarians Jane Frances, Yvonne, Evangeline, Marie Helene, and Victorine

Back Row: S. Jeanne Weber (Subprioress) with 60th Diamond Jubilarians Ss. Anna Dangel, Patricia Heirigs, Rosemary Weber, Cynthia Binder, Valerie Cheney, Dorothy Olinger and Sr. Penny Bingham (Prioress)  Front Row: 75th Diamond Jubilarian Wilma Lyle, 70th Diamond Jubilarians Jane Frances Garcia, Yvonne Duppong, Evangeline, Marie Helene Werdel, and 60th Diamond Jubilarian Victorine Stoltz

Click here to read more about the 2014 Benedictine Sisters’ Diamond Jubilarians


Benedictine Sisters Lynn Osika 2

S. Lynn is pictured second from left

Sister Lynn Osika OSB transferred her stability from Mother of God Monastery, Watertown, to  Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD on Sunday, July 20th, during the community’s Sunday Vespers,    Born in Harvey, IL, in 1957 to Louis and Rose Osika, Sister Lynn was an only child but had many cousins and friends.  After graduating from Marian High School in Chicago Heights, she studied forestry at Michigan Tech University in Houghton and then Range Management at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. S. Lynn worked as an agricultural researcher for the Kansas Rural Center (Whiting, KS) and later served as a volunteer in Kansas City, working in a Catholic Worker House in Kansas City, MO and running a Community Garden Project at Seton Center, a parish neighborhood center serving the poor of inner Kansas City.  Serving the poor and stewarding God’s creation have always been important to her.


S. Lynn entered Mother of God Monastery in Watertown, SD and made first monastic profession in 1988 and perpetual monastic profession in 1992.  She took care of the monastery grounds and assisted in the business office at Harmony Hill Center.  After receiving a Master’s degree in library science from the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1993, she worked as librarian at the Harmony Hill Library in Watertown and at the Watertown Regional Public Library.  From 1997-2010 she worked in the Brookings, SD, Public Library.

In 2010 she returned to Watertown to serve as the monastery archivist, and in 2011 moved to Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, SD to discern a transfer to that community.  In Yankton she volunteered in Mount Marty College library, worked at Yankton Community Library, and taught a Wisdom of Benedict class at MMC.  Currently she ministers at the monastery as Community Librarian and is on the staff as Librarian at Mount Marty College.

S. Peggy Venteicher

Sister Peggy signs her profession formula.

Sister Peggy signs her profession formula.

At Sunday Vespers on August 3rd,  2014, in the presence of S. Penny Bingham, prioress, and the  Benedictine Sisters,  S. Peggy Venteicher made her first profession  to live a life of obedience, stability and conversion of life according to the Rule of St. Benedict.  Commenting on her profession  S. Peggy reflects :  “ Making first profession means saying ‘Yes’  to God’s call, living out Jesus’ Gospel message,  and letting the Spirit guide me.   Life is a journey, a daily call to grow closer to God.    I feel being called to live the Benedictine monastic way of life is to trust and follow God’s plan for my  life.  I am very blessed to have the love and support of my community Sisters, family and friends”.

Peggy  is from Norfolk, NE,  the oldest of nine children born to Lyle and Denise Venteicher and was raised on the family farm southwest of Pierce, NE.     She graduated from Mount Marty College in 2005 with a degree in nursing.  Sr. Peggy worked at Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk for seven years and in August, 2012 followed her desire to be a Benedictine Sister by entering Sacred Heart Monastery .    Her family joined the Sisters in the joyful celebration of her profession.   A reception was held in the monastery Chapter room after the ceremony.

Benedictine Days September 25-27

(Back row left to right) Sr. Marietta Kerkvliet (Yankton, SD), Postulant Terry Lafferty, (Yankton, SD) Sr. Eileen Brick (Watertown, SD), Sr. Maria Gara (Clyde, MO), Sr. Denise Cree (Watertown, SD), Sr. Pat Nyquist (Clyde, MO), Postulant Sue Albert (Yankon, SD) and Sr. Sharon Ann Haas (Yankton, SD). Middle row, (left to right) Sr. Florence McManamen (Rapid City, SD), Sr. Carol Kovarik (Rapid City, SD), Sr. Rose Palm (Watertown, SD), Sr. Edna Marie Stephenson (Rapid City, SD), Sr. Gabrielle Marie (Norfolk, NE) and Novice Barbara Younger (Watertown, SD). Front (Left to Right) Postulant Pia Jepsen (Clyde, MO), Novice Sarah McMahon (Norfolk,NE), Sr. Peggy Venteicher (Yankton, SD) Sr. Samantha Chamley, (Rapid City, SD) and Postulant Maria Owczarek (Clyde, MO)

Benedictine Days- Continuing the Mission

What makes a good story? There are many relevant ways to answer this question, but the key is providing rich content. How is this possible? It is through sharing what you know with others. On September 25-27th, Sacred Heart Monastery hosted Benedictine Days, an annual event for women and men in Benedictine life going through formation to gather with their directors. Their meeting focused on topics related to some aspect of the Rule of St. Benedict and monastic life. The theme this year was the significance of stories in their personal and spiritual life.

The group in attendance represented the Benedictine communities in Rapid City, Yankton, and Watertown, SD, Norfolk, NE, and Clyde, MO. Following a closing prayer on Sunday, the women left for their respective areas with renewed zeal in their religious life of prayer and service. For more information visit our Flickr page at for pictures of beautiful witness of a life of faith shared.

Sister Penny Bingham, prioress, opens the monastery front door in response to the knock of Terry Lafferty who is accompanied by Sister Phyllis Hunhoff (left)

Sister Penny Bingham, prioress, opens the monastery front door in response to the knock of Terry Lafferty who is accompanied by Sister Phyllis Hunhoff (left)

In a simple ritual, Theresa Lafferty, accompanied by S. Phyllis Hunhoff, vocation coordinator, knocks at the front door of the monastery and was welcomed by the Prioress, S. Penny Bingham and the community gathered inside. Dr. Theresa Lafferty was received into Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD, as a Postulant in a simple ritual on August 2, 2014.  After Theresa symbolically knocked on the front door of the Monastery, the Prioress, S. Penny Bingham, asked, “What do you seek?” to which Theresa responded, “I want to live in love and service of God with the help of this community.”  The monastic community affirmed her request and S. Penny presented her with a medal of St. Benedict.  The celebration continued at Vespers and supper.


Theresa Veronica Lafferty was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, the third of eight children of the late Francis J. and Patricia A. Lafferty. She attended twelve years of Catholic schools before enrolling at the University of Pennsylvania for a BA in American Civilization and an MS in Secondary Education. After four years of teaching in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, she went to work as a computer operator in an insurance company before returning to the University of Pennsylvania as an employee. Performing such tasks as accounts receivable, accounts payable, grant management, and payroll, she eventually became the Payroll Manager. She wrote and delivered the week-long training program for payroll employees throughout the university, offering the course every month for up to twenty employees.

While working at University of Pennsylvania, Theresa began an MA course of study in Sacred Scripture at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, PA.   After graduating in 1997 she began teaching Bible Study in the Diocese of Camden (NJ).  In 2001 she began studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, pursuing a doctorate in Biblical Studies, with a concentration on the Old Testament prophets.  She lived in Dover, Delaware from 2004-2012 while writing her doctoral dissertation and teaching at The Catholic University. Little did Dr. Lafferty know when she came to Mount Marty College in Yankton, SD in 2012 for a job interview that this might be more than a faculty position.

Right next door

While serving as Assistant Professor of Theology at Mount Marty, Dr. Lafferty began studying the life of the Benedictine Sisters next door to the college campus, leading to her decision to join the Monastery.   She has taken a unique path to the monastery from MMC, as she is the first to enter the community as a professor from the college, rather than as a graduate.  As a postulant Theresa will the live the life of the community,  meet regularly for guidance in the monastic way of life, take classes on transitions, Liturgy, and music lessons in addition to her professional work at the college.

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