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.
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 Marcia Ziska, OSB
Yes, it was ever present to me.
When did you first hear the call to the monastic life?
I’m not sure it was a call to monastic life as much as simply wanting to become a sister and that was in the 2nd grade….I wanted to grow up and be like Sr. Bertrand.
Why the Benedictine Order and why Mount St. Scholastica?
I was taught by this community and so they were familiar to me and took me to the Mount as a junior and senior in high school.
What was the most difficult/fearsome part of your discernment process?
Telling my boyfriend that I thought I had a vocation to religious life.
How did you overcome these difficulties and fears?
I simply bit the bullet and had a conversation with him over dinner one evening.
Was there any “turning point” or moment in your discernment, when you knew this is what God was calling you to do?
After working two and a half years in a parish, I felt I needed to listen to my heart and check out whether community and religious life was for me.
What was your favorite memory from the novitiate?
Going to St. Patrick’s for hermit days and a retreat as we started was very memorable. My formation director, Sr. Evelyn guided me in praying with the scriptures in such a way that they came alive for me. It was wonderful.
I enjoy taking photos and making photo cards to gift others.
Sister Susan Barber, OSB
I enjoy our commitment to life, as experienced in our prayer for the good of the world, in our seeking of wisdom, in our celebrations, in our diversity of service for the welfare of others, in our service to and support of one another, in our love of learning, and in our opportunities to share hospitality and advocate for justice.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
In my childhood I wanted to be a teacher, a singer, or a missionary. I also had a fascination with Jacques Cousteau and oceanography.
What is something others would be surprised to learn about you?
I enjoy playing Hide and Seek, and I introduced the game to all of my nieces and nephews. I have also had the opportunity to travel to Tanzania in Africa and Mineros in Brazil. I felt very much at home with the Benedictine Sisters in both of these places.
What do you find is the biggest misconception of community life?
There may be some misconceptions that peace is a given in community. Rather, it is pursued. Peace in community requires a lot of give and take and much prayer. It is a precious gift that others who come to us tell us that they sense. For that, I am grateful.
Describe your religious vocation journey in three words: Centered in love.
Sister Barbara D. Smith, OSB
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
Get to know: Sister Loretta McGuire, OSB
What do you enjoy about being a sister?
I enjoy serving the sisters and the people of God.
What do you enjoy about Mount St. Scholastica?
The prayerful, faithfulness of the nuns, the care and beauty of our grounds, buildings and one another.
What is your favorite sports team?
ND Football, Royals baseball, Ballett
Besides Atchison, what is your favorite city?
New York – there in the world, people of every nationality live.
What was your first impression of Benedictine Sisters?
What is the best advice you ever received?
Always see the face of Christ in every person.
Describe your religious vocation journey in three words.
Faith, grace, goodness
Get to know: Sister Delores Dolezal, OSB
What do you enjoy about being a sister? Living the communal life in prayer, celebrations, and suffering.
What is a scripture quote you appreciate and why?
“Peace be with you.” It gave me insight that “God Knows.” So, if God knows, all is truly well. God is on my side.
What is the best advice you ever received?
At an Advent retreat, I heard and memorized: “Be faithful to the struggle.”
Who was your Confirmation Saint?
Mary, Mother of God
Who are two of your favorite fictional characters?
Pojo and Popeye
Who influenced you most on your spiritual journey?
Sister Mauricita: In 6th grade, she gave me a prayer to know my vocation. I prayed it daily and I still have it. I now pray for fidelity to my vocation and for women to have courage to listen, ponder, and seek God in Generously giving of themselves to God.
Besides Atchison, what is your favorite city?
What is your favorite sports team? Nebraska Cornhuskers Football
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.