Life in a religious community isn’t typical in today’s society. The choice to become a Benedictine Sister is like taking the road less traveled. But when you make a less ordinary choice, there are extraordinary experiences waiting for you. Explore life at Mount St. Scholastica . . . where your extraordinary adventure can begin. Contact our vocation minister at firstname.lastname@example.org
Experience a day in the life of the sisters and share your faith journey with others discerning their vocation at a retreat day on March 18.
1. Why is Mount St. Scholastica called a monastic community?
We share a life of prayer, community and service to others. Mount St. Scholastica is a Benedictine community, which means that we follow the teachings of St. Benedict, who wrote a practical guide (“Rule”) about how to seek God and follow Christ while living together as vowed religious men or women. Benedictine Sisters take vows of stability, obedience and conversion to the monastic way of life, which includes chastity and living simply.
2. What are the principal Benedictine values?
Because Benedictines believe that we encounter Christ in prayer and in each other, each day includes communal prayer, work and meals. We are called to welcome all persons as Christ, and thus hospitality is a primary Benedictine value. We are called to be good stewards of God’s gifts, and thus taking care of the earth is also an important value.
3. What does it mean to live as a community?
All persons who choose to live in a Benedictine monastery believe it is helpful to have the support of others as we seek Christ and work to serve God’s people. Community members vow obedience to the leader of the community (known as the prioress) and to each other, which requires careful listening and a willingness to put others’ needs ahead of our own desires. The community prays, works, eats and socializes together. Within the larger community, members reside in smaller living groups, which share household chores and other aspects of day-to-day life.
4. What is a typical day like at the monastery?
We share morning, midday and evening prayer and celebrate Eucharist together each day. Some sisters have jobs outside the monastery, and others work at various ministries at the monastery itself. After evening prayer we eat supper together, and on any given night, we might be found reading, watching television together, playing cards or board games or pursuing our hobbies.
5. Do you wear habits?
In regard to clothing, St. Benedict simply instructed his followers “to use what is available in the vicinity at a reasonable cost,” so we have chosen to wear the common dress of people in our culture. The symbol of our life commitment is a distinctive ring worn by all professed members of our community.
6. Can family and friends visit?
Yes, your family and friends are welcome to visit the monastery. You also may go visit your family and friends occasionally, depending on the community schedule and your ministry responsibilities.
7. Can I pursue a professional career if I join the monastery?
Yes, Benedictine sisters often pursue professional careers. The prioress discerns with each community member how her gifts and talents may be used to benefit both the community and the individual.
8. What type of work is done by Benedictine Sisters?
Mount St. Scholastica includes sisters who are educators, chaplains, spiritual directors, liturgical ministers, medical professionals, counselors, social workers, librarians, and administrative or information technology personnel. One of the most important aspects of choosing a ministry is being available for communal daily prayers and meals.
9. What is it like to live a celibate life?
Being celibate means that we don’t focus on loving just one other person, the way a spouse does in a marriage. Celibacy provides us with the time and energy to create a common life together of prayer and service to others. A healthy celibate life includes a variety of relationships with community members, family and personal friends.
10. Can a divorced person or a widow become a Benedictine Sister?
A divorced woman who is interested in becoming a sister must have an annulment. A woman who is a widow must have lived on her own for at least three years, and in both cases she can have no dependent children.
11. What if I have debts?
Mount St. Scholastica does not consider applicants who have personal debt. Educational debts may be an exception, to be discussed during your time of discernment with the vocation director.
12. What other requirements must I fulfill?
Applicants must be in good health and pass a physical and a psychological evaluation. Letters of recommendation are also required.
13. How long does it take to become a sister at Mount
Once you and the community have agreed that God has called you together, you will undergo a formal process of joining the community. The amount of time varies, depending on the individual circumstances of each candidate. The stages include:
- Affiliate (generally one year)
- Postulant (generally six months to one year)
- Novice (generally two years) followed by first monastic profession
- Scholastic (at least three years)
- Final monastic profession
Experience a day in the life of the sisters and share your faith journey with others discerning their vocation at a retreat day on Feb. 18 or March 18.
Sister Barbara D. Smith, OSB
Years as a Benedictine Sister: In Belcourt, North Dakota: 1998-2001 (3yrs) In Atchsion, Kansas: 2002-present (14yrs)
Where did you grow up? Edwardsville, Illinois
What was your first impression of the Benedictine Sisters? I was very drawn to their down-to-earth lifestyle, their gentle care for all people and their balance between their work and prayer life that I experienced in the ministry work on the Indian Reservation. When I came to Atchison, I felt at home with the large community of sisters, how welcoming they were to all and their liturgies (prayer life) were so beautiful and deep.
What do you find is the biggest misconception of community life? I really did not know any sisters before coming to the community, so I didn’t know what community life was supposed to be like. I was not Catholic growing up, so I was pretty open to what religious life was all about. I think what surprised me was to find out that sisters can have strong feelings like anyone else, and some shared them more than others.
Describe your religious vocation journey in three words: Highest spiritual ride
Sister Barbara Conroy, OSB
Years as a Benedictine Sister: 22 years as a Benedictine Sister
Where did you grow up? St. Joseph, Missouri
What was your first impression of the Benedictine Sisters: My first impression was in high school. I had Benedictine Sisters as teachers, and I felt the compassion and the love that they had for each other. You could obviously tell that they were a group of women who served God and God’s people. It seemed like they were one big family. They respected each other. In my teenage years, I needed unconditional love and they provided that for me.
What do you find is the biggest misconception of community life? That we always agree with each other! We love each other, but our thoughts are individual. I find we have to constantly listen to God speaking to us and one another.
What’s the best/coolest thing about Atchison? The history of Amelia Earhart’s life here.
Sister Patricia Gamgort, OSB
Years as a Benedictine Sister: 61
Where did you grow up? Wilmington, Delaware
What was your first impression of the Benedictine Sisters? They were warm and human. I had been taught by Sisters in a different order, and they seemed rather aloof and cold.
Who influenced you most (and how) on your spiritual vocation journey? Two Benedictine Sisters, Anselma and Antoinette, who modeled the importance of their community prayer and the kindness and care they exhibited to students, the other sisters and staff. I wanted to be like them.
What is the best advice you ever got? Always be true to who you are.
What is the best advice you ever gave? The fruit of the Spirit is peace. Be at peace with yourself and God. Everything else will fall into place.
Describe your religious vocation journey in three words? Exciting, fruitful, affirmed
Get to know: Sister Helen Mueting, OSB
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A Sister and novelist
What’s your favorite book? Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
Who is one of your favorite fictional characters? Hermione in Harry Potter, she’s smart and brave.
What is your favorite fruit and vegetable? Peach and corn
Who is one of your favorite saints today, and why? St. Joan of Arc — her courage to do what she felt was best
What scripture do you quote most often? “Come to me all who are heavily burdened and I will give you rest.”
What is your favorite sports team? Notre Dame
What is something others would be surprised to learn about you? I coached basketball for one year.
Get to know: Sister Anne Shepard, OSB (Prioress)
What is a profession you admire, but could never, ever do as your job? A lawyer.
Where did you grow up? Washington, D.C.
What’s on your favorite bumper sticker? “Women are born leaders — you’re following one!”
How did you celebrate your last birthday? A huge party with the community and live music.
Who are two of your favorite fictional characters? Daffy Duck and Lucy from Peanuts
What scripture do you quote most often? “Make your home in Me as I make Mine in you.”
Besides Atchison, what is your favorite city? San Diego, California
What is your favorite sports team? Kansas City Royals
Get to know: Sister Judith Sutera, OSB
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
No particular ambition … I just knew I didn’t want to work in a factory like all the people I knew.
Where did you grow up? St. Joseph, Missouri
What was your favorite subject in school? Reading
What is your favorite fruit and favorite vegetable? Grapes and spinach
What was your patron saint at your Confirmation? Elizabeth, in honor of relatives by that name.
Who is one of your favorite saints today, and why? Abba Anthony, a very early figure in monastic history.
Besides Atchison, what is your favorite city? Places in Sicily and Italy
What is your favorite sports team? Kansas City Chiefs