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One Heart and One Soul: Stories from our Monastic Home

"And so we are going to establish a school for the service of the Lord...For as we advance in the religious life and in faith, our hearts expand and we run the way of God's commandments with unspeakable sweetness of love." Rule of Benedict, Prologue 45-49

Benedictine Hospitality and Sewing

Greetings,

As the pandemic spread to the United States, to the coasts, and crept closer to South Dakota and our own little city, our monastery followed the directive to close our doors in order to protect our most fragile sisters in our community.  It was a difficult decision.  One of our core values is hospitality; this is taken from Saint Benedict’s Rule that reflects the importance of hospitality with chapters teaching monks and sisters to care for guests, the sick, pilgrims, the elderly, the young, the new members, returning members, and more.  It was with great sorrow that we closed our parlors and chapel to guests, family, and friends.  A few weeks later, a demand began to grow for cloth masks not only to cover the specialized masks of health care workers but to also care for and protect each other.  This call to serve fulfills our Benedictine call to hospitality as well as several of Benedict’s teachings on the living the “Tools for Good Works” from chapter 4 of his Rule

1. In the first place, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength.  2. Then, one’s neighbor as oneself.  14. To relieve the poor.  15. To clothe the naked. 16. To visit the sick. 26. Not to forsake charity. 62. To fulfill God’s commandments daily in one’s deeds.  78. Now the workshop in which we shall diligently execute all these tasks is the enclosure of the monastery and stability in the community.

Sister Jeanne posted a note inviting the sisters to a “sewing circle” to respond to the needs of Avera Sacred Heart, our local hospital.  They began with producing 25 Olson masks to protect the specialized masks at the hospital, then they refocused their efforts to produce 60 masks for our own employees at the Monastery, and some for the sisters who need to go out.

Sisters Jeanne, Patricia Ann, and Penny developed a schedule and list of jobs needed; and the sisters quickly filled the volunteer schedule, taking on roles such as washing and ironing material, cutting the masks, sewing, and even organizing the masks for distribution.  So many are the volunteers that (sadly) some sisters were too late to find a time/job space on the list!  The sisters are working hard–and building community through service and prayer.  Through this “sewing circle” our sisters are able to not only live hospitality for others, but also live our mission of serving God’s people in a new way. In a difficult time, this has been a wonderful way to live our Benedictine tradition, the Church’s call to almsgiving and prayer, and the lived focus to our prayer for those in need.  It’s also a concrete way we can contribute something needed by our hospitals and care centers during this time pandemic as it expands in our “backyard.”

Are you seeking to serve through sewing in your own backyard?
To learn how you can make cloth masks, click here. 
If you would like to donate masks, they can be dropped off here:
Avera Human Performance Center:
 6800 S. Louise Ave., from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
Avera Home Medical Equipment:  2400 S. Minnesota Ave., from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays.
Or you can email foundation@avera.org to coordinate a drop-off of masks.

Blessings to you,

Return to “One Heart and One Soul”

Catholic Sisters Week ~ Golden Class

Sisters Patricia Ann, Barbara, and Mary Kay receiving a blessing from the prioress on their Golden Jubilee.

Greetings,

Each day of Catholic Sisters Week, we will be sharing the stories of our Jubiliarian Sisters, celebrating a significant anniversary in religious life of 25 and 50 YEARS of service to Christ, Church, and Community…

Join us in praying for Catholic Sisters and Nuns who continue to seek God’s Will and serve God’s people throughout our nation.  Pray also for women who continue to discern God’s will in their lives.

Sister Barbara was born on October 12, 1948 to Robert and Rose Marie McTague in Brookings, SD. She was the second of nine children. After graduating High School in 1966 she entered the monastery. In May of 1971, Sr. Barbara graduated from Mount Marty College with a BA in Elementary Education. She taught for over 30 years beginning with St. Joseph’s School, St. Therese and St. Lambert, St. Agnes, St. Patrick’s, and Aberdeen Roncalli. In 2006, she came back to the monastery and was the Vocation Director. Now, Sister Barbara serves at St. Mary Parish in Sioux Falls doing Outreach.

“My grandmothers were an inspiration to me. They were holy women. My grandmother, Cecilia Gengler, inspired me by her love of God and simple way she lived her life. While staying with her as a young child of 5, I promised myself to God. So, since I was little, I wanted to become a Sister. My parents prayed the rosary every night until I was born. Growing up in a large family made the community life of a Benedictine appealing to me.”

Some highlights of her life were getting to go to Rome and then going to Norcia to see where St. Benedict and St. Scholastica prayed. For three summers, she was able to fly to Seattle, WA to work on her Masters in Religious Education at Seattle University. She also attended the General Chapter in Fort Smith, Arkansas in the summer of 2002, giving her a wonderful experience of Southern hospitality.

“I love that community life is important to me. We truly are a family. Jesus promised that we would have life to the full, and I believe that I have had a full and blessed life as a Benedictine. For that I am grateful!”

Loving God, by your grace,
Catholic Sisters throughout the world continue to respond to Your Baptismal invitation
to live lives dedicated to prayer and loving service.
Enkindle in their hearts a renewed desire to be zealous servants of the Gospel
and continuing signs of Your presence in our world.
Preserve and strengthen in them the passion and the vision
to welcome and to serve all Your people without hesitation or pause.
As they strive to live the mission of their respective congregations,
empower them to do so with courageous simplicity,
consecrated celibacy, and committed obedience to Your will.
We ask this in union with Jesus the Christ,
who showed these dedicated women the way to living in union with You.  Amen.
~Mary Rose Romeo, SSJ

Blessings to you,

Return to “One Heart and One Soul”

Catholic Sisters Week ~ Golden Jubilee

Greetings,

Each day of Catholic Sisters Week, we will be sharing the stories of our Jubiliarian Sisters, celebrating a significant anniversary in religious life of 25 and 50 YEARS of service to Christ, Church, and Community…

Join us in praying for Catholic Sisters and Nuns who continue to seek God’s Will and serve God’s people throughout our nation.  Pray also for women who continue to discern God’s will in their lives.

Sister Mary Kay is a native of St. Paul, NE where she spent most of her growing up years. Her parents are the late Albin and Barbara Panowicz. She is the oldest of four siblings – two married sisters and a brother that died shortly after birth. Sr. Mary Kay became acquainted with the Yankton Benedictines when they came to St. Paul to staff the newly opened Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic School in the fall of 1961. “Catholic school was different as the Sisters were not only our teachers but also took a particular interest in our faith and personal growth as well. Sister Maxine was my 8th grade teacher, and we formed a special bond early on. She was the one who first posed the possibility of a call to religious life to me. S. Maxine’s suggestion and seeing how she and the other sisters lived and interacted was attractive and wakened a stirring in my heart. The faith of my parents and the parish community were also significant influences in my call to the Benedictine way of life.”

Sister Mary Kay graduated from St. Paul High School in May of 1966 and entered Sacred Heart Monastery that fall. In addition to her formation as a Benedictine, her education included earning a BA degree in Art from Mount Marty College; a Master of Selected Studies in creative writing, media and design from the University of South Dakota and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Indiana.

Her ministry has included public relations work at Mount Marty College and Sacred Heart Monastery; management of the Monastery Print Shop; free-lance art work for our sponsored healthcare institutions and several parishes; assistance to parish renovation and construction projects as a liturgical consultant; service on a number of healthcare boards and as a System Member for Avera Health; and since 2011 serving the community as the procurator (business manager and treasurer).

A highlight of the past 50 years for Sr. Mary Kay was participating in a 5-week Benedictine renewal program in Rome in 2008 and then spending a week in Switzerland connecting with our community roots at Maria Rickenbach and Marienburg. “At this time of jubilee, I am grateful for all the opportunities that I have been gifted with, and the people both within and outside the community who have touched my life and help me to become the woman God wants me to be. The daily rhythm of prayer and work outlined in the Rule of St. Benedict has become a second heartbeat of my life.”

Loving God, by your grace,
Catholic Sisters throughout the world continue to respond to Your Baptismal invitation
to live lives dedicated to prayer and loving service.
Enkindle in their hearts a renewed desire to be zealous servants of the Gospel
and continuing signs of Your presence in our world.
Preserve and strengthen in them the passion and the vision
to welcome and to serve all Your people without hesitation or pause.
As they strive to live the mission of their respective congregations,
empower them to do so with courageous simplicity,
consecrated celibacy, and committed obedience to Your will.
We ask this in union with Jesus the Christ,
who showed these dedicated women the way to living in union with You.  Amen.
~Mary Rose Romeo, SSJ

Blessings to you,

Return to “One Heart and One Soul”

Catholic Sisters Week ~ A Golden Day

Sisters Mary Kay, Barbara, and Patricia Ann on the day of the Golden Jubilee.

Greetings,

Each day of Catholic Sisters Week, we will be sharing the stories of our Jubiliarian Sisters, celebrating a significant anniversary in religious life of 25 and 50 YEARS of service to Christ, Church, and Community…

Join us in praying for Catholic Sisters and Nuns who continue to seek God’s Will and serve God’s people throughout our nation.  Pray also for women who continue to discern God’s will in their lives.

Sr. Patricia Ann was born on February 12, 1948 in Omaha, NE to Anthony and Darleen Toscano. She later graduated from Mount Marty College and went on to get a Masters at St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana, then entered the Monastery in 1966. She taught music at Sacred Heart School in Yankton from 1971-1975 while assisting with organ duties and liturgy committee in the parish. Then Sr. Patricia Ann began as to serve as both liturgist and organist for Sacred Heart Monastery at the same time she assisted five local rural parishes with music.  While continuing duties at the Monastery in 1982, she also taught part time in the Music Department at Mount Marty College. Sister now continues as Director of Liturgical Music at the Monastery, along with teaching private piano lessons and Music Methods Class of Mount Marty College.

“Omaha had many religious women in the city (there were three motherhouses), and I was always impressed with them. But when our Sisters came to Omaha, I “fell in love” with them, with their spirit. I had been considering religious life and knew that I had to try it in Yankton with our Sisters. The Sisters were so friendly, kind and giving. I’d say S. Annella, my piano and organ teacher, was probably the most influential in my coming to Sacred Heart Monastery and S. Aquinas was most influential in my staying.”

Sister Patricia Ann came to community right after Vatican II when many things in the church began to change such as liturgy. Changes also happened here in community, and many women left. “I am sure that the Holy Spirit was with me through those years, and inspired me to remain. It is a choice I have never regretted. As a young member of the community, I was asked to assist with the community liturgies; this involvement certainly influenced my perspective of our life. The strong women of this community who supported us through these changes also helped me reach 50 years in our community.”

Loving God, by your grace,
Catholic Sisters throughout the world continue to respond to Your Baptismal invitation
to live lives dedicated to prayer and loving service.
Enkindle in their hearts a renewed desire to be zealous servants of the Gospel
and continuing signs of Your presence in our world.
Preserve and strengthen in them the passion and the vision
to welcome and to serve all Your people without hesitation or pause.
As they strive to live the mission of their respective congregations,
empower them to do so with courageous simplicity,
consecrated celibacy, and committed obedience to Your will.
We ask this in union with Jesus the Christ,
who showed these dedicated women the way to living in union with You.  Amen.
~Mary Rose Romeo, SSJ

Blessings to you,

Return to “One Heart and One Soul”

Catholic Sisters Week ~ Silver Celebrations

Sister Erin in pink on the celebration of her silver jubilee.

Greetings,

Each day of Catholic Sisters Week, we will be sharing the stories of our Jubiliarian Sisters, celebrating a significant anniversary in religious life of 25 and 50 YEARS of service to Christ, Church, and Community…

Join us in praying for Catholic Sisters and Nuns who continue to seek God’s Will and serve God’s people throughout our nation.  Pray also for women who continue to discern God’s will in their lives.

Sister Erin is the second of four children born to James and Alice Colgan, growing up on an acreage near North Bend, NE, graduating from North Bend Central Jr.-Sr. High School and Wayne State College, Wayne, NE. While working at the University of Nebraska Foundation in Lincoln, she was introduced to the Yankton Benedictine Sisters. The influence of friends, involvement in the Newman Club during college, a weekend experience with the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Norfolk, NE, retreats in college and beyond, as well as making a Monastic Experience with the Yankton Benedictines, helped her to discern a vocation to religious life. At the time she entered community, our Sisters prayed morning, noon, and evening Liturgy of the Hours in small groups of 8-15 women. “It was in this setting that I gained an appreciation for the diversity of the Psalms and the Sisters, as well as the simplicity of monastic life.

After her first monastic profession on August 7, 1994, she worked in the Registrar’s Office at Mount Marty College, helping to implement a new administrative computer system. Sr. Erin made final monastic profession August 2, 1997. After ten years in the Registrar’s Office, she attended law school. She chose the one whose mission statement spoke to her heart. “The University of St. Thomas School of Law, as a Catholic law school, is dedicated to integrating faith and reason in the search for truth through a focus on morality and social justice.”  After graduating in 2007 and becoming a member of the State Bar of South Dakota, our community allowed Sr. Erin to volunteer at East River Legal Services in Sioux Falls, SD, from 2008-2012. “During this time, I worked with victims of domestic violence on family law cases. For me this experience was both very rewarding, but also quite heartbreaking. It was rewarding to help those in most need get out of abusive relationships; yet heartbreaking to see the family dysfunction and effects on the children.”

She eventually returned to Mount Marty College, serving part-time as Compliance Officer. This ministry was short-lived, the conclusion of which provided her the opportunity for time away for healing, spiritual growth, and personal renewal. “I currently minister in the Monastery Business Office and Gift Shop, as I continue to seek God and strive to become the person God wants me to be.”

Loving God, by your grace,
Catholic Sisters throughout the world continue to respond to Your Baptismal invitation
to live lives dedicated to prayer and loving service.
Enkindle in their hearts a renewed desire to be zealous servants of the Gospel
and continuing signs of Your presence in our world.
Preserve and strengthen in them the passion and the vision
to welcome and to serve all Your people without hesitation or pause.
As they strive to live the mission of their respective congregations,
empower them to do so with courageous simplicity,
consecrated celibacy, and committed obedience to Your will.
We ask this in union with Jesus the Christ,
who showed these dedicated women the way to living in union with You.  Amen.
~Mary Rose Romeo, SSJ

Blessings to you,

Return to “One Heart and One Soul”

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ARCHIVED Stories of our Monastic Life

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Monastic Horarium

Our weekday schedule at the Monastery.
6:00 AM ~ Early Breakfast
7:00 AM ~ Lauds in Peace Chapel
7:30 AM ~ Breakfast
11:15 AM ~ Mass in Peace Chapel
* Ministry and Service
12:00 PM ~ Lunch
12:45 PM ~ Noon Praise
* Ministry and Service
5:15 PM ~ Vespers in Peace Chapel
5:45 PM ~ Supper Evening
* Recreation and Compline
 
 
blog image- Wooden door inside Bishop Marty Chapel
 
 

The weekend horarium allows for a reflective start to the day.

7:00 AM ~ Breakfast
8:30 AM ~ Lauds
         Saturday in Peace Chapel

         Sunday in Bishop Marty Chapel

* Ministry and Service
12:00 PM ~ Lunch
12:45 PM ~ Noon Praise
* Ministry and Service
Saturday Evening
         Supper, Vespers, and

         Recreation in Living Groups

Sunday Evening
5:00 ~ Vespers Bishop Marty Chapel
5:30 ~ Supper
*Recreation and Compline
 
 

 

Prayer for Vocations

Prayer for Vocations God of Love,
You call us to live in your love through the grace of our baptism.
Bless us with the courage to carry out the mission of Jesus.
Grant us open and generous hearts to see the needs of others
and to respond with compassion.
May the Church be blest with women and men who are dedicated to you through marriage, the single life,
the diaconate, priesthood, and the consecrated life.
It is in Christ and through Christ
that we offer ourselves to you now and forever. ~Amen

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About the Author…

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I entered our Monastery on January 3rd, 1998. After professing my temporary vows, I began to teach high school English and speech. During this time, our community accepted me into Perpetual Monastic Profession. Now, I am teaching Theology while living on ‘mission’ in a city not too far from the sisters at the Monastery. Benedictine life is filled with opportunities to learn from the constant call to minister to each other. My stories and tales grow out of these opportunities to serve and learn within community life. blog

Eucharistic Love

Pope Francis said, “The Eucharist affects the way we see others. In his life, Christ manifested his love by being with people, and by sharing their desires and problems. So, too, the Eucharist brings us together with others–young and old, poor and affluent, neighbors and visitors. The Eucharist calls us to see all of them as our brothers and sisters, and to see in them the face of Christ.” ~ February 14, 2014 General Audience.

God Bless You for Visiting!

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