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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

A Reflection on the Dedication of Our Chapel


During our morning prayer on Monday, July 27th, Sister Carol Jean shared a reflection on Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel as we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Chapel’s Dedication

10.5 miles…11 minutes and 30 seconds…For the last 10 years, I’ve been driving the same route from Omaha to Yankton, waiting for 10.5 miles. Because that’s how far I am from the monastery when I crest a hill and finally see the steeple of our chapel. 10.5 miles, 11 minutes and 30 seconds… and I join in Solomon’s prayer, “May Your eyes be open night and day toward this house.”

This reflection isn’t a history. I can recommend Travelers on the Way to Peace or Sister Claudia’s Under the Shadow of His Wings if you would like history on the Chapel. This morning, I’d like to take a loving look at why I long for that first view of the Chapel.

Our Chapel (upper, lower, and all levels in-between) has been part of my house ministry off and on since the “Learn and Earn” program over 25 years ago. That summer, Carmy, Kara, and I were assigned to polish the Chapel brass—all of the brass—to keep us busy during the community days meetings. Later, following in a long line of postulants and novices, I learned from Sister Marie Helene and various Korean Sisters how to polish, dust, vacuum, wash, and clean every inch of Chapel to a shine. It was good. I was glad to help, and I learned a lot about the place, and grew to love the Chapel as a worship space during that time. However, I wasn’t getting the point. Knowing the layout of this place isn’t understanding the significance or beauty of the space.

The more I settled into our rhythm of life; of year after year gathering in Chapel to lift up prayer, celebration, and remembrance; of year after year joining together as a community to offer the Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharist, Professions, Installations, Jubilees, and Funerals in Chapel. The more I began to understand why Sister wrote in Travelers I, “the Chapel stands…as a symbol of the faith of a community.”  For 70 years we have “worshipped in spirit and truth” within this Chapel; 70 years of praise has reverberated off this stained glass and soaked into these sandstone walls. Solomon’s prayer from First Kings is ours when we gather here, “May Your eyes be open night and day toward this house.”

We are asking God to turn his eye here to us. We are not transient. The permanence of our Benedictine tradition, the emphasis of our Profession of Stability to one family, one home can be seen in the Dedication of the Chapel.

This physical manifestation of Stability has become a sign I look for when I’m here and take with me when I’m gone on mission. When home for the summer and celebrations, I find rest settled into my pew in the midst of community, gazing up on our carved Crucifix. Coming home for the summer, I listened carefully for the new pitch to the organ pipes and took time to rest with Our Lady in the transept Chapel. While away on mission, I use pictures of the Chapel for my laptop screensaver and desktop images, I print out pictures of our stained glass and Chapel décor to use in the prayer space at the convent apartment and in my classroom too. I tell my coworkers and students stories of the Christmas we had a million poinsettias and the Spring there were no Easter lilies. I share the reason for using sandstone when we are so far from the quarry, and my classes celebrate Our Lady of Einsiendeln (2 months early). I save the image of our transept chapel in my heart as my “happy place”; when all seems to be going awry, I pull the peace of that cool, quiet, glass lit, corner into my soul.

The Chapel, all this from steeple to stairwell, in many ways, is sign and symbol of Stability. Each of us has our own reasoning, our own memories. The commitment to this family of Sisters, to this place on the bluff. We are built together, no matter the cracks in the tile or leaks along the sandstone, even though the humidifiers keep filling up…

I invite you to wander in our Chapel today. Touch the coolness of the sandstone that has absorbed 70 years of prayer, Mediate on the jewel-tone stories illustrated in the windows, Look for the Story of Faith carved into the wood, and remember your stories that link them all…as together we ask God, “May Your eyes be open night and day toward this house.”


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Retreat ~ A Time of Reflection


Pray for us during our time of retreat; we shall keep you in our prayers.
This week many of our sisters are gathered at the monastery for retreat.  The sister who coordinates our on-going formation sets a week for retreat that accommodates most of our sisters’ varying schedules due to their ministry and service in different works of the Church. Those who cannot attend this retreat are called to set aside another time and can retreat privately with a director, attend a retreat some where else, or retreat with a series of talks or spiritual book.

Brother Zachary Wilberding, OSB from Saint Meinrad Archabbey will be our retreat director.  His conferences will focus on “Freedom Through Forgiveness” and “will explore the power of anger to keep us captive and practical ways in which the forgiveness taught by Jesus can free us.” All of this with be viewed through reflection on Scripture, The Rule of Benedict, and story.  During this year of Covid-19 concerns, we’ve had to think around a few problems.  Our retreat director will be joining us electronically via Google-Meet to share his conferences and reflections. In keeping with recommended social distancing, some sisters who have been away from home are not able to be with us at the monastery; they too will be listening to the retreat Brother Zachary’s conferences via Google. Thankfully, these electronic advances help us continue to meet our Federation and Monastery norms concerning the importance of retreat in our spiritual lives.

Listen I (General Norms of our Federation) recognizes that “Benedictine formation is a lifelong process of daily conversion within a dynamic, monastic faith community.  The entire community is responsible, under the direction of the prioress, for the ongoing formation of all sisters.  The monastery fulfills this responsibility when it provides the environment for the sisters to share their life together in faith and to continue their own daily effort toward growth in Christ” (G111).

Listen II (Specific Norms of our Federation) reminds the prioress that “the Monastery Norms specifies the ways a monastery provides for the continuing spiritual development of its sisters, such as community renewal, annual retreats, days of recollection and other opportunities” (S129).

Our Listen III or Monastery Norms (specific to our monastic guidance) take all this into account and very simply states a list of items to support this continuing formation including “annual retreats” (M111.g).  Simple…However, this yearly week of retreat is so important within our monastic life that it is even written into our contracts so we that may set at least a week aside for personal and private prayer, reflection, and community.
Retreat allows for a deepening of relationship with God in the silence of our day, broken only by Sister’s conferences and our prayer, and through our personal prayer which supports our times of Liturgy of the Hours.  All this additional time in prayer reminds us to follow Saint Benedict’s injunction on the oratory:
“Let the oratory be what is is called, a place of prayer; and let nothing else be done there or kept there.  When the Work of God is ended, let all go out in perfect silence, and let reverence for God be observed, so that any sister who may wish to pray privately will not be hindered by another’s misconduct.  And that other times also, if anyone should want to pray by herself, let her go in simply and pray, not in a loud voice but with tears and fervor of heart.  She who does not say her prayers in this way, therefore, shall not be permitted to remain in the oratory when the Work of God is ended, lest another be hindered, as we have said” (Rule of Benedict 52).

During our retreat, we will continue to hold you and your intentions in both our communal Liturgy of the Hours and personal prayer.

Blessings to you,

Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Her ~ Sister Kevin

To Paradise now may the angels bring you,
and may the martyrs now come to meet you on your way,
and may you be led into the holy city Jerusalem.
All the choirs of angels make you welcome there,
and with Lazarus once so ill and poor,
may peaceful joy be now forever yours.
~In Paradisum

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Blessings to you,

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Benedictine Hospitality and Sewing


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 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.


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,

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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!

Yankton Benedictine Sisters blog

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