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 at the College of Saint Benedict 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 will feature a blog post by one of these volunteers. These women will share a bit of their experience within the BWSC ministry and ask that you pray for them as they extend Benedictine values to the world during their year of service.
A Season of Firsts
by Erin Carey
December is upon us and that means life is busy in preparations for music recitals at the Art House, getting ready for my trip home after Christmas, enjoying the Advent season and adjusting to life with the snow. In Erie, the sisters are careful to fully celebrate both Advent and Christmas. That means that we don’t have Christmas decorations or music, yet. Everything is still in blue as we await the 25th. However, the tree and other decorations will be put up on December 21st. It’s difficult to be patient, but there have been little glimpses of Christmas around the Mount. One of which popped up this week after our very snowy weekend. Jessica and I built a snow-person behind the Mount, just visible from the dining room. It was Jessica’s first time making a snow person! We are still looking for the right name for our creation. Suggestions are welcome!
The Art House was busy with preparations for the Open House we had on December 8. Students finished art projects and practiced dances and musical pieces. The parents and families of the students were invited in the evening for a recital and art show. My 7- and 8-year-old music students played “Jingle Bells” on the hand bells. We put on red and green reindeer antlers to make it even more festive! It was a joy to watch the students get excited about playing for other people. There were gasps and wide eyes when the students were asked to play for the recital. They were excited to share what they learned. I loved watching all of the talents my students have. One of my 8 year olds from hand bells was also in a hoop dance class. The dancers used hula-hoops that are twirled and rolled and spun around them. I loved watching her swing the hoop above her head and simply grin and giggle!
At Saint Benedict’s Education Center, the refugees are enjoying their first sights of snow. There were some excited faces when the flakes started falling last week. For many people, it is their first time seeing snow. There is a Somali man who towers over everyone and has deep, booming voice. As we watched the snow come down, he looked out the window with eyes wide saying, “It is ALL white! Erie is white!” It was a reaction that was so innocent and sweet.
It has ben a season of firsts around here, I suppose. It was my first Thanksgiving away from home. It was difficult to be away, but wonderful to be able to spend the holiday with the sisters. The food and time spent together made me thankful to be in such a special place with special people. In other firsts, I’ve taken up the flute under the direction of a sister. I can play some Christmas carols, and we’ve enjoyed some flute duets as well. I’ve also started to test out my baking skills, thankfully, under the direction of a sister. So far, only bread and cookies, but more to come, I’m sure! I’m (patiently) looking forward to Christmas time here at the Mount!