Vocations … Come and See

vocationsAre you discerning a vocation to the religious life? We love helping others explore their vocations. Come discern with us! The Sisters of the Sacred Heart Monastery are a religious community of Catholic women under the Benedictine Order. Discern your vocation and see what it’s like to be a Catholic sister at one of our upcoming discernment events!


Vocations – Exploring the call to religious life

The call to religious life is unique for each and every person, and we want to walk along this journey with you. Consider your vocation to the religious life by exploring the Yankton Benedictines!

What, dear sisters, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us?  See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life.

RB Prologue:19 & 20


It was nice to take a break from the chaos life brings. The moments of silent reflection after a discussion were my favorite. I enjoyed being able to think about where I’m at with God without constantly having the typical distractions of “do I need to be somewhere right now?” or “did I forget to do something?”
Kimberly Schneider

This retreat provided an opportunity for me step back and see how God has been working in my life. My eyes were opened to the ways he shows his unending love, and I was able to see how I need to trust in God’s plans for me with a childlike faith again.
Paige Cordell

Sister Carmella Luke

Sister Carmella Luke

Vocations Director

EMAIL  shmyankton.vocationdirector@gmail.com
PHONE — 605-668-6092
Address —1005 W. 8th St. Yankton, SD 57078

SHM Volunteer Program — Join us in ministry!

Come and explore our incredible setting as a Resident Volunteer!

Explore your Vocation

Explore your Vocation

What is a discernment retreat and why should I attend?

A discernment retreat is an opportunity to learn about a particular religious order while enjoying a peaceful getaway to recharge and connect with God. Discernment retreats with the Yankton Benedictines allow you to get a taste for monastic life while offering opportunities for contemplative prayer and vocational direction.

You should consider a discernment retreat if you are:

  • Considering the religious life
  • Desiring to deepen your prayer life
  • Seeking guidance in your discernment.

The next retreat is TBD

To register and for more information contact S. Carmella Luke or call her office at 605.668.6092. New Retreat Brochure listed: Exploring Religious Life: Listening in ContextTo learn more about future discernment retreats head over to the Upcoming Events page.

It was nice to take a break from the chaos life brings. The moments of silent reflection after a discussion were my favorite. I enjoyed being able to think about where I’m at with God without constantly having the typical distractions of “do I need to be somewhere right now?” or “did I forget to do something?”
Kimberly Schneider

This retreat provided an opportunity for me step back and see how God has been working in my life. My eyes were opened to the ways he shows his unending love, and I was able to see how I need to trust in God’s plans for me with a childlike faith again.
Paige Cordell

Other discernment opportunities

  • Come and See: Could God be calling you to religious life? Have you ever been curious what sisters do all day? Have you ever just wanted to visit a place where sisters live? If any of these questions are ones you’ve asked yourself, consider coming for a Come and See Weekend or a Monastic Experience.On a Come and See weekend, you will have a chance to visit with sisters, join them in prayer, and in social activities. What to bring? Comfortable clothes and clothes appropriate for church.
  • Monastic ExperienceA Monastic Experience is a little more in depth. It is usually a week long. During this time, a woman has a chance to join more deeply in the prayer and life of the monastery.  For the mornings, she can join in various works around the monastery. In the afternoons she has small classes on monastic life, prayer, and history of the monastery. In the evenings, she has a chance to visit with different sisters. What to bring? Comfortable clothes, some clothes to possibly work in the garden, and clothes appropriate for church.
  • Residential volunteer: Come join the Sisters’ work by volunteering in the bakery, sacristy, gift shop, and more! Volunteers are provided with room and board and a stipend – read more here .


Vocation Events

Megan and Piper help out Sister Marcine and Mary in the Bakery

A Monastic Experience

In June 2014 Stacie, Piper and Megan spent a week with us doing a Monastic Experience. A Monastic Experience is an in-depth introduction to Benedictine spirituality and monastic living.  This way they come to know our prayer life, our Sisters and opportunities to share in some of the monastic work.  While here, they joined the Sisters in the Liturgy of the Hours and Holy Mass.  They had opportunities for discernment, various types of prayer such as Lectio Divina and Centering prayer, spiritual direction and the steps for entrance into the monastery.  In addition they joined the Sisters in various monastic ministries such as the bakery, the garden and care of our elderly Sisters. The evenings they shared in the various living groups of the Sisters.  It was a joy to have them and they will be back for occasional visits.


Picture below is of a high tea party on December 17, 2017. It was held in St. Joseph’s Care Center with Sisters and their buddies. Pictured left to right, S. Theresa McGinn, Novice Theresa Lafferty, and S. Valerie Cheney.blank


Contact S. Carmella Luke for more information. Or you may submit inquiries on the form on the Vocation home page.

Discerning a Vocation

What am I to do? How do I discern what is God’s will for me? The process we use in making major decisions in our life is discernment. First take a look at yourself. What are your gifts and talents? The direction for your life is inside of you. What is your heart’s desire for your life? God has made the human person to be wonderfully knowledgeable, capable of generosity, and full of potential. And God expects us to use all this in making major decisions in our lives. God has a direction, an energy for our lives, for our happiness. It is inside of us. The answer to “what is God’s will?” is a matter of self-knowledge and listening to God speak in the depth of your heart as well as listening to others.

←Here are some Scripture passages to pray as you listen to God:

If you feel called to explore religious life, first discern the form that will take by first reading about different types of religious orders: apostolic, monastic, cloistered. See what touches your heart. Begin communication with the communities, spend time with those that seem to fit with your dreams and hopes and gifts. Visit those that attract you on the internet or in person. Where are you feeling excitement? Where does your spirit feel “at home”. Prayer and reflection are central to discovering God’s will in your life. Meet with a Spiritual Director or a mentor.

You might use these Scripture passages as you reflect on God’s call:

What way of life would be a path of fulfillment for you? Where will you be happy? Make a difference? Grow in your relationship with God and God’s people? If your heart leads you to religious life, spend time meeting the Sisters, praying and playing with the community you feel is a match for your heart’s desire. (Contact S. Clarice on Vocation Home to arrange a visit or come for one of our scheduled events.)

←Here are Scripture passages to give you courage and comfort:


How do I know if I’m called? Everyone’s call is unique. Listen to more of our Sisters call stories at Meet the Sisters. For more information:

  • Download “How to do a pro con list
  • Download a lovely bookmark,  “God calls,” listing the above Scripture references

Doors to Becoming a Sister

Listen with the ear of your heart.

Discernment is a time to discover what my call or vocation in life is.


Yankton Benedictine Chapel DoorsFront door of Bishop Marty Chapel
A woman feels called to religious life and through prayer and mentoring determines whether this is an authentic call for her. The first step in discerning is exploration. She gets to know Sisters, WHAT religious life is like, the differences between communities and asks questions. Most important, she grows in her relationship to God and listens to the desires God has placed in her heart. To learn more about the next steps please continue to the next doors.



Seek the Lord where He may be found.

A person who wants to look deeper at a religious call to a particular community.


Yankton Benedictine Serious SeekerInside door from the gathering space leading to the chapel. A woman spends time with our Benedictine community experiencing our way of life for weekends, weeks, or months during the course of a year. The seeker will come visit the monastery, for a weekend retreat, for a monastic experience, be part of the Residential Volunteer Program at the monastery or whatever Events and Opportunities help her discernment. As she continues listening in prayer and in spiritual direction, she may, in dialogue with the vocation director, begin the application process. In this time of inquiry, the discernment process is always mutual: the woman and the community together decide if this is the right fit for her.

NEXT: If you feel attracted to religious life, find more information on the next pages and or see below. 

Discernment Retreat Opportunities! Click here for a brochure.

What can be sweeter to us than the voice of the Lord inviting us?

A postulant is a word used for a woman who asks to join our community.  This is the beginning of her time of initial formation.

blankDoors to Initial Formation: Postulancy

As the newcomer enters the Postulancy she begins a life-long formation process guided by the Holy Spirit which takes place in the midst of community life. During the postulancy, usually 6 months to a year, the newcomer shares in the life, work and prayer of the community as she and the community discern God’s call to her in to this Benedictine way of life.

S. Marietta Kerkvliet of Sacred Heart Monastery describes what the life of a postulant entails including the types of classes and work.

blankIn a simple ritual, Theresa McGinn, accompanied by S. Clarice Korger, Vocation Director, knocks at the front door of the monastery and was welcomed by the Prioress, S. Maribeth Wentzlaff and the community gathered inside. Theresa McGinn was received into Sacred Heart Monastery, Yankton, SD, as a Postulant in a simple ritual on January 12, 2018. After Theresa symbolically knocked on the front door of the Monastery, the Prioress, S. Maribeth Wentzlaff, 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. Maribeth presented her with a medal of St. Benedict. The celebration continued at Vespers and supper.

Theresa McGinn, a former second and third grade teacher and a teacher of 2 year olds in a Montessori school, arrived from Florida on Monday, March 7. “I loved the little kids but often came down with everything they had. I loved teaching. I really did.” Needing to become the primary care-taker for her father, she put that ministry aside for a while. After her father’s death, she lived with her sister and family for a time in order to decide what she was going to do with her life moving forward. She considered both the contemplative and the active religious communities. While discerning her call, Theresa found the Yankton Benedictine’s Residential Volunteer Program, a program designed to provide single women (without dependents) with an opportunity to discern new directions in life. She contacted Sr. Bonita, and as they say, the rest is history.


“Come my daughter listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord”

Novice is the word used for a woman who lives, studies, and works with our community to see if she is called to be a Yankton Benedictine.

Yankton Benedictines Novitiate FormationA look through the doorway of the Formation Room
This is a time of integration and preparation to enable the novice to better recognize her vocation to monastic life and experience the manner of living this life. She will be formed in mind and heart by its spirit, and tested for her intention and suitability to live this way of life. The novitiate may be one to two years in length and is spent at Sacred Heart Monastery.


S. Marietta Kerkvliet of Sacred Heart Monastery answers the questions:
Are there any activities outside of the community?
What classes do they study?


“Let us set out on this way with the Gospel for our guide.”

The entire community, the “Chapter” admits the woman to temporary profession, which may last three or more years.

Yankton Benedictines Chapter DoorDoors to the Chapter Room, where the novice comes before the Sisters to ask permission to make temporary vows.
After both the novice and the community have discerned that she is being called by God to the way of life of a Yankton Benedictine, she makes temporary profession in which she promises before God and the whole community stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life and obedience. The sister continues her integration into community and the deepening of her commitment to Christ, the Church and this way of life as a temporary professed member.


S. Marietta Kerkvliet of Sacred Heart Monastery answers questions about temporary profession:
How long is this temporary profession?
What kinds of things do they do during this time, work, classes etc.


“See how the Lord in His love shows us the way of life.”

After three of more years, the woman and the community discern her readiness to make permanent commitment to the Benedictine way of life. 

Yankton Benedictines Final Profession DoorFront Door to our home — Sacred Heart Monastery
Perpetual Profession is lifelong commitment to faithfulness to the journey of seeking God and gospel living in this community through the promises of stability, conversion of life and obedience.

S. Marietta Kerkvliet of Sacred Heart Monastery shares what one can expect moving forward in their vocation and given responsibilities. An ongoing life long commitment.






blankOn July 28, 2018 S. Peggy Venteicher made her Perpetual Profession in the presence of the Benedictine community and family and friends.

Full article on her profession her







What is a Monastic Profession ceremony like? Watch  S. Barbara Kowalkowski’s Profession ceremony (best if viewed in full screen):