Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Adventures of BWSC Volunteer Mo Shannon-Thornton


Benedictine Women Service Corps (BWSC), an outreach of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., invites College of Saint Benedict alumnae to join the monastic community in deepening relationships that support justice and service in a new location. Volunteers strive to live out the Benedictine Gospel values that were formed during their undergraduate education in a capacity that will challenge them personally, spiritually and professionally.

Mo Shannon, Erin Carey and Bethany Purkapile are the Benedictine Women Service Corps volunteers for 2016-17. On September 1, they began a year's service at Benedictine monasteries in Bristow, Va., and Erie, Pa.

Three Thursdays a month we will feature a blog post by one of these volunteers. These women will share a bit of their experience within the BWSC ministry and we ask that you pray for them as they extend Benedictine values to the world during their year of service.

(BWSC Volunteer Mo Shannon-Thornton)
Today, we introduce BWSC volunteer blogger, Mo Shannon-Thornton, to you

Hello all! I first want to say that I have the privilege of living with 27 amazing women. From the very beginning, the sisters here in Bristow have been absolutely welcoming. These women are truly a hoot! Many of them come from very diverse backgrounds, and have fascinating vocation stories. While I’m excited to be living with these wonderful women, I’m not fond of the 6:30 morning prayer, or the loud morning bell that wakes me up every morning. I remember the first Morning Prayer I attended here. I was so tired. Anyone who knows me on a personal level knows that I am not a morning person AT ALL! However, when I walked in the chapel I was greeted by Sister Charlotte’s pink fuzzy house slippers. I thought to myself, “Now she’s got the right idea.”

I’ve been in Bristow, Va., just shy of a month. Within the short amount of time I’ve been here, I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions. My first week here I felt happiness, anxiousness and sadness. This is partly because I came to Virginia with a couple of preconceived notions on how easy it would be to help people. However, that most definitely was the naiveté in me. I made up my mind that I was going to help a lot of people, and leave my job everyday feeling fulfilled. But I learned quickly that would not always be the case. For the first half of this year I have been volunteering at BARN. BARN provides housing to families who are homeless. These families can stay here anywhere from three to five months. While living here, residences are required to attend bi-weekly programs that teach them how to manage their finances, improve their education and parenting skills. The interesting thing about working at BARN is that no work day is the same for me. I enjoy Mondays and Tuesdays the best because I work directly with the children. On Mondays I tutor, and Tuesdays I work with young girls 10 to 15 years old. I specifically asked my boss if I could work with these young girls because I noticed by the second week of me working here, the girls seemed disconnected with others around them. I also found myself leaving my job discouraged because there had been many times I had to turn families down and tell them they couldn’t stay at BARN. I knew in my heart there was some way I could reach others, even if it wasn’t in the way I initially wanted to. Therefore, I started a program called BARN’S “Bright Lights.”

The purpose of my program is to serve as a safe space for young girls to flourish in an environment where they will be taught about the importance of self-esteem, body image, peer pressure and the overall importance of a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, we live in a society where women are objectified. Therefore, my hope is that my program will encourage these young girls to see past their outer, and to let their inner light shine through in every aspect of their lives.

The group of girls I work with are characters. They are all full of life (sometimes too full) and are incredibly intelligent. I’m really excited to see what the year brings me, and my new program. And I can’t wait to share my future experiences with you all! Blessings.


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