Thursday, March 3, 2011

Strong Women

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed a national women's week to be observed in March, primarily honoring American working women. In 1987, Congress passed a resolution setting aside the whole month of March in honor of all American women. Academics in particular have given much time and energy to highlighting the role of women in forming and strengthening this nation.

Each March a theme is selected to guide various projects in making known women who have played key roles in society—locally as well as nationally. This year's theme is "Our History is Our Strength." When I read that, I was immediately reminded of the many strong women who helped form our monastic community, past and present. Surely, Mother Benedicta Riepp and, Mother Cecilia Kapsner, early leaders during our community's founding, were strong women, braving frontier conditions to anchor Benedictine life in central Minnesota. Following them, over the next decades and generations, a long list of Sisters attests to a desire and the will to foster religious life here.

I think of such forebears as Mother Aloysia Bath, Mother Louisa Walz, Mother Richarda Peters and Mother Henrita Osendorf… the latter two whom I knew personally. They were truly strong women, capable and determined, each in her own way. We indeed stand on the shoulders of giants! I like to think that the "beat goes on"—that we inheritors of a grand history will prove worthy of these great, strong women, and in turn give a breadth and depth to Benedictine monasticism which will enrich us and those around us.

Photo: Sister Richarda Peters

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