Thursday, April 27, 2017

An Easter Experience

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. This week's BLOG is written by Bethany Purkapile.

Photo submitted by Bethany Purkapile

Easter in the monastery was truly an experience unlike any other. Beginning Thursday morning, the atmosphere alone let you know that something was happening - something big! Our evening started with Mass and the official beginning of Triduum. After Mass, individuals were invited to have dinner with us, but this wasn’t any ordinary meal; it was the Seder meal. One long table at the top of the room held Sister Cecilia (prioress), Father Raymond, Sister Glenna and the Monastic Council as well as some of our community members. There were multiple small tables spread out among our dining room, putting sisters, volunteers and community members together. The head table prefaced each aspect of our meal with a short introduction. Each table then passed around a small dish of Matzo crackers, eggs, parsley, lamb, and a cinnamon apple dish, blessing each as they came around. After dinner, the community entered into silence, which would last until Saturday evening. This was the hardest aspect of celebrating Easter for me. It wasn’t that I was homesick or that I wanted to be with my family, but that we had to be silent for three days (really it was two and a half). As an extrovert, you can imagine just how difficult this would be. All I wanted to do was to smile and say “hi” and be my bubbly self.
Saturday evening made being silent so worth it! The chapel was decorated with flowers and gorgeous ribbons of green, yellow and pink strewn from top to bottom. I couldn’t believe how transformed the chapel and everyone’s spirit was. By Sunday afternoon, although everyone was exhausted, reflecting on the past few days simply brought a smile to my face. Silence was hard, but looking back, Easter is a bittersweet holiday. Jesus was crucified for our sins, he died to save us and throughout the Easter holiday, that is what we are remembering. For three days, Jesus’ disciples and family mourned in silence from the time that he was crucified to when he resurrected from the tomb. For me, Easter had always been about the Easter bunny and eggs, not a symbolic holiday to remember what Jesus gave up for all of us. It was during this reflection time that I realized just how important and truly beautiful Easter is.
The last few weeks while I’m here are shaping up to be very busy! Next week my mom will be making the trip to Virginia to visit the sisters and me. We have a trip planned to DC, but I’m excited for my mom to experience a little bit of what I have experienced this year. After that I will only have three weeks left to wrap up my time with BEACON and BARN, plus all of the monastery events (birthdays, parties and even an 80th Jubilee!). Only 32 days left. I can’t believe how quickly time has gone. I’ve grown so much over my time here and although I’m ready to be home and in one place for more than a few months out of the year, I know it is going to be hard to leave Bristow. I’ve had so many great experiences and created such amazing friendships while here. It’ll be hard to put those all behind me and go home.
Sending my love,
Bethany Purkapile

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

In Support of "Small Talk"

I have been thinking lately about times when our family had celebratory meals together.  At the end of the meal, we were content and delightfully relaxed.  We often just sat around and told/retold our favorite stories and no one was checking their watches. The retelling always embellished the actual story a bit and often generated a little uninvited editing. If there were guests, they added their stories to the mix.  As I remember it, that is how our friends became extended family.

It never occurred to me that slowing down to exchange small talk was one of the best parts of the meal. The stories often revealed the uniqueness of each person at table.  We glimpsed their passions and discovered what made them laugh or cry. After those exchanges, we knew better how to delight or tread lightly when we met them again.

Recently I heard a young man comment on how he decided to slow his thinking down whenever he met a stranger.  He began by noticing the thoughts he was having about the stranger he noticed on the bus.  After he identified his uneasiness, he chose to sit near the person and slowly begin some small talk. He was shocked at how easily the stranger responded. That choice began to set in motion a new pattern of connecting with those around him.  After about seven weeks, it became easier and easier to let small talk be the bridge that connected him to a wide range of unfamiliar people. The gift for him was learning interesting and tender things about the lives of people around him.

May this joyous Easter time open up spaces for us to slow down, sit down and savor stories that connect us.

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What is an Oblate?

Oblate Gathering
(Photo by Karen Streveler, OSB)
What is an oblate? When someone asks me what my weekend plans are and I’m going to the monastery for an event, I always pause because I know I’ll have to answer that question.  It’s not that I want to be a secret oblate.  It’s just a tough question because I want to say so much.  Yet I know I have only 15-30 seconds to answer before I see the questioner’s eyes glaze over. 

So what is an oblate?

My latest answer:  Someone who wants to be part a supportive community, exploring/living in a way that brings us closer to God and each other. There, that was about seven seconds, I have eight to spare!

That answer is the tip of the iceberg and doesn’t address why I’m still an oblate.

I became an oblate when I graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 1987. I wanted to maintain a relationship with the sisters I had come to know and love during my time at college. My oblate practice has ebbed and flowed since then.

Inquirers often ask, “How much time does it take to be an oblate?” It depends how much time you have and how much time you want to give. There have been years when I didn’t devote much time to my practice. Now I meet regularly with others, study the Rule of St. Benedict and pray  Lectio Divina (a monastic way of prayerful reading). 

Another Benedictine practice I’ve been exploring is hospitality. Being an oblate guides how I respond to my life and to others. How do I respond to my friends and family? My co-workers? How do I respond to the person holding the cardboard sign on the street corner? How do I respond to God’s voice calling me to a fuller life?

All of these practices are as important to me as getting a good night’s sleep. They help me to show up, hear God’s voice and respond (hopefully kindly) to all the people and events in my life.

We are having an event on May 20, 9:30-11a.m. in Rosamond A at Saint Benedict’s Monastery for those wanting to know more about what an oblate is and how to become one. Oblates will share how they live their oblate journey and Sister Laureen Virnig, OSB, will answer questions about the process of becoming an oblate. There will be plenty of time for questions and delicious scones and coffee.  If you came to the event last October and would like to come again, please do. 

To register please email or call 320-363-7144 by May 17.  I hope to see you!


Lynda Gradert, OblSB


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Dogwood photo by Nancy Bauer, OSB
April showers bring May flowers; do you remember this catchy phrase? April showers moisten the earth; this moisture nurtures the soil preparing it for the planting of seeds. Recently after a conversation with a friend, I found myself comparing her tears to the April showers of life and transitions. In her April tears, she is on the brink of becoming a May flower, a flower of personal growth. She began to cry right at the beginning of our conversation. I was fearful of continuing. Asking myself, “Am I ready to hear what she has to say?” As I listened to her, the tears she shed were a mixture of love, pain, sorrow, and joy. In other words total confusion. I knew I could not fix the confusion so I simply listened as one story after another unfolded in front of me. As the tears lessened and the conversation was nearing the end, I shared words of support that seemed to relax her. I perceive her tears as those of preparation, for her, to step boldly into her future. To be the May flower I see within her, she will have to get through the April showers in her life. Most likely, we have all experienced our own April showers. We have learned that through faith we all become a May flower when we listen to God. If you would like more information about Saint Benedict’s Monastery please contact Sister Lisa Rose at

Lisa Rose, OSB

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Living Stations of the Cross

Going to chapel early on a Lenten morning to meditate on the Readings for Mass and not being touched by them, I put down the book and tried to meditate on the Stations of the Cross, which hung on the chapel wall at our Senior Center where I was recuperating.  Not being moved or touched by that meditation, I put down the book and just watched the residents enter the chapel.  Some needed a helping hand; others managed with the help of a cane, a wheelchair, or crutches. I was deeply touched by how each one had their own LIVING STATIONS OF THE CROSS.

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
(Photo by Patricia Ruether, OSB)

Right in front of me, a man in a motorized wheelchair specially designed to carry his weight, became an image of Jesus who carried the weight of our sin. Seconds later, in came a Mother with four little children and a baby in her arms reminding me of the women and children who followed Jesus on the journey. No matter where I looked, there was someone either bearing the cross or, like Simon of Cyrene, helping others to carry their cross. The many volunteers who attended others’ every need, either before, during, or after the Eucharist, were for me, the Veronicas who wiped the face of Jesus. Before Communion was distributed, a Sister came up front with small glasses of water on a tray for those who needed it to help swallow the host. Some residents who came to Mass had the good intention but soon their tiredness or their aching bodies took over and they fell asleep, like Jesus in the arms of His Mother.

This experience of witnessing the LIVING STATIONS OF THE CROSS, so moved and touched me, I was left with some questions:    

How, when and where am I asked or invited to follow Jesus in my every-day life?   When I realize the moment, how do I respond? Do I say, “Maybe tomorrow or next week? I am too busy now.”  Can I be grateful and accept the call?  

Margaret Mandernach, OSB

Thursday, April 6, 2017

On Being

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.

This week's BLOG is written by Erin Carey

Some flowers that are trying to say "hello."
There are many signs of spring around the Mount.
(Photo submitted by Erin Carey)
Every Wednesday, I have a ‘reflection day”. A reflection day is a day when you don’t go into work, you take time to reflect and collect all the experiences from the past week, and you do things that refresh you. The people in formation (novices and postulants) and other volunteers also take these days at some point during the week. Some things I do on my reflection day include getting outside by running or going for a walk, reading, journaling, and playing piano. In reality, reflection days are sometimes the busiest days of my week because it becomes a day for meeting with people and getting things done that I have been putting off. But there is an intentionality there to keep it as open as possible to take time to pull experiences together.
Relaxing into this new rhythm of life was admittedly difficult. I felt like I was not being productive. I had no tangible signs of progress for the day. Coming from the ever-busy culture of high school and college, this rhythm of taking time to reflect and recollect was (and still is) a little foreign. Allowing myself to be comfortable simply ‘being’ instead of ‘doing’ is an ongoing transition.

As the community journeys through Lent, we are reading and discussing the book “An Altar in the World” by Barbara Brown Taylor. In it, she outlines spiritual practices that awaken people to the presence of God in the everyday: practices of wearing skin, saying no, walking on the earth, experiencing pain, and others. In the chapter on taking Sabbath she quotes the Jewish prayer “Welcoming Sabbath.”
Our noisy day has now descended with the sun beyond our sight.
In the silence of our praying place we close the door upon the hectic joys and fears, the accomplishments and anguish of the week we have left behind.
What was but moments ago the substance of our life has become a memory; what we did must now be woven into what we are.
On this day we shall not do, but be.


We are to walk the path of our humanity, no longer ride unseeing through a world we do not touch and only vaguely sense.

No longer can we tear the world apart to make our fire.
On this day heat and warmth and light must come from deep within ourselves.
Reflection days are all about weaving experiences into who I am becoming. Barbara Brown Taylor asks the question: “Why are we so reluctant to go?” Why are we so reluctant to be instead of do? It is hard work and probably why I avoid the work by trying to fill the days with endless business. It also is work without an end, which is daunting! During Lent, I’ve tried to be more conscious of how I spend my time on reflection days and on Sundays.

A recent Sabbath practice:
Pizza from scratch with Sister Val!
(Photo submitted by Erin Carey)
This new way of being is also present at Saint Benedict’s and at the Art House. Recently, I’ve seen my role in both ministries as more of a service of presence with people. I help people with tangible skills and we make progress at both places, but underneath it is much more a ministry of being. There was a young man from Syria in class for the past few months. We never worked together because his English was better than most and he was out often interviewing for jobs; however, we saw each other every morning and simply said “hello.” Last week, he got a job in a factory and he was ecstatic. He came up to say goodbye, and shaking my hand he got a little teary and said, “Thank you, teacher.” It was touching. We hadn’t worked together, we had nothing to do with each other but we were graced with the opportunity to be with each other. I think we were both just grateful for the presence of the other around the classroom. It is freeing to know that, while I can do everything in my power to help the refugees and the kids at the Art House, there is only so much I can do. Presence, being and relationship are the ways of service I hope to provide.
Thank you all for the prayers and support. It’s hard to believe it’s almost May! Happy spring!


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Journey with the Stations of the Cross

The Via Crucis is recognizable in our churches as well as on the streets of our present world! As children, we wondered at those scenes attached to the wall high above our eye level. What was happening? Why? Why all the abuse and hatred toward Jesus? Why his quiet submission to the cruel extortionists? Why the death and apparent defeat of Jesus?

Have you felt drawn this Lent to gaze, as we did as children, on the Way of the Cross? As adults, we can re-consider Jesus, THEN, as well as NOW in our brothers and sisters the world over who experience condemnation, rejection and the evil that leads them, too, to death. Let us keep our eyes on the cross THEN and NOW as we pray:

Jesus is made to carry a cross; He is forced to take it upon his shoulders. . .

          Who in our world is carrying a cross, even embracing it, simply because they are believers?

Third Station of the Cross, Jesus falls the first time
(Photo by S. Pat Ruether)
Jesus falls . . .

          Who are those in our world who, exhausted by oppression, homelessness, hateful words, fall?

Jesus meets His Mother. . .

Who are the mothers, fathers, grandparents who watch, wait and weep for their child incarcerated for scarcely a crime?

Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus. . .

Who are those pro-bono lawyers who reach out to help the poor? Or those who see another’s frailty and brokenness and come/go to their aid?

And then, there is the woman, Veronica. . .

In our world, who wipes the disfigured faces of their children or spouses as they are pulled out of the rubble left by bombs? Or earthquakes?

Jesus is now half way through His journey when He falls again. ..

In our lives, how can we restrain ourselves from heartlessly pushing, striking, goading those already groveling in their suffering?

Women weep over Jesus. . .

Today, who can catch the endless tears of so many mothers and fathers who weep over their wayward children?

Jesus falls a third time. . .

          We keep repeating the age-old enmity and disparity between the powerful and the powerless,  the “haves” and the “have nots”. When will we learn that Love shares?

Jesus is left naked by those who are shameless. . .

In our world who are those who are stripped of everything dear to them, as they are forced out of their homes, into exile, or into the hands of human traffickers?

Finally, Jesus is nailed to the Cross and lifted on high. . .

          Do we nail someone to a cross by our ridicule, greed for power, or blindness?


          When will we learn that no one wins in a war?

Jesus is taken down from the cross, given to His Mother. . .and then placed in a tomb. . .

Where are all those un-named bodies, the world over, who are never returned to the arms of their families to be given a fitting burial?

This, the 14th STATION!

But the story does not end here.  Our faith and experiences tell us that there is a 15th station: Jesus arose and He lives! Though LENT may go underground and, unfortunately, goes on relentlessly, NOW and AGAIN, we can sing ALLELUIA because Jesus is with us in the fray of personal and worldly conversion.

LOVE has triumphed over hatred. . .and it can and does triumph in our midst as well. Christ is risen and He will always be with us : the marginalized, the imprisoned, the poor, the migrant.  He is walking with the rejected, the maltreated and discarded, the sick and the suffering and with all women and men of good will who long to tell us the truth: CHRIST IS RISEN; HE IS ALWAYS WITH YOU!

S. Renée Domeier OSB

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bethany's Life in Bristow

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.
This week's BLOG is written by Bethany Purkapile

(Photo submitted by Bethany Purkapile)
I am continuing to spend my days split between BEACON and Transitional Housing, BARN. Both are going well! I have a love for teaching that I never knew I would find, and a love for helping others. I spend my days at BARN completing case management and workplace skills development with some of the moms. We are working on computer skills currently, trying to master Microsoft office. For individuals my age, it’s baffling to think of having computer skills as a privilege. We grew up learning computers, writing papers in Word, learning how to use Microsoft and mastering the internet. Those ten years older than me, didn’t have this privilege. These moms that I have been working with are amazing women who have overcome very difficult obstacles and their one goal is to obtain better employment. The one thing stopping them is the skills to use a computer.

I’ve begun to think about what I want to do after my year here in Bristow, Virginia. Although I don’t have my mind made up completely, I’ve started to work with youth doing play therapy at BARN under the supervision of the volunteer counselor that comes on Thursdays. She’s taught me a few things about playing with the kids, but unlike other therapy techniques that we see on TV or have preconceived notions about, I mainly just play with the kids and give them an ally, someone they know they can trust or talk to if they ever want to. It’s something that is very new for me, but I really enjoy it. It’s led me to consider the field of school counseling and clinical psychology. Tomorrow I am actually going to observe a local school counselor to see what this role is like in a school setting.

I’m sorry my update on work is short, things have been going well and there isn’t too much to share on it! Instead, I’d like to update you all on my experience within the community, more specifically my new-found love of prayer. 

When I first started considering the Benedictine Women’s Service Corp, I knew my biggest challenge would be committing to prayer. I was not raised in a religious family. All I knew about prayer was what I saw others do and what I saw in high school and on TV. I wasn’t taught or shown that prayer is a personal communication with God, and it’s all about what you make it.

I had these preconceived ideas that prayer is this communication between an individual and God, and that it is supposed to be a specific way, that there are rules and restrictions about what is allowed and not allowed. For me, prayer hasn’t been that way at all. It’s been this personal connection where I’m able to share my victories and defeats, the highs and lows of my day and all my worries, hopes and dreams.

As I go through my days switching between BEACON and BARN, I find myself stressed and exhausted by the end of the day. I put all I have into the work I do and sometimes I give more than I have and I wear myself thin. It’s a known quality of mine. I learned early that self-care is so important and beyond running and exercise I had not found any other self-care techniques that worked. Prayer has become one of those techniques. Sitting and allowing myself to reflect and breathe would calm me in ways that other techniques could not.

Thank you to everyone for your continued prayers and emails of support! It makes my day to see just how much my blogs and experiences are not only affecting me, but others.

Sending my love,


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Place in Between

Photo by S. Nancy Bauer
During the Lenten season, nature gives us daily reminders that we are in a space where the ending of winter and not-yet spring is happening.  In-between- times rarely feel comfortable.  It can often be a challenge to remember that God typically waits patiently to speak to our hearts in open spaces.  Each of us prepares our hearts for opening up in different ways.

 Here at St. Benedict’s Monastery we have begun to nudge ourselves into creating God-spaces by looking at the physical spaces around us.  We have designated several clearing-house Wednesdays in Lent.  Each Wednesday has its unique focus, beginning with bringing lightly used clothing and shoes to a central site and then delivering them to local agencies that distribute them to those in need .  Another time the focus might be books or items that the local parish could sale at their Christmas fundraiser. 

The communal aspect of these little “letting goes” remind us of how connected we are to one another and those around us.  Simple “letting-goes” seem to provide space for highlighting the daily ways God fills and renews us.  Maybe gratitude has a twin sister called “letting go.”

Sister Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Out of Gas

It was only before and during Vatican II days that school missions were not allowed to have a car.  Sisters would ask volunteers to take them to appointments or do business in town.

From 1964-69, after the Vatican Council, working at St. John Cantius Parish, St. Cloud, MN.,  our Superior, S. Delrey Kulzer had the use of her brother Tony’s second car once a month to do the necessary business in town.

This particular day bringing the car, Tony said, “This is a very good car, except the gas gauge does not work but not to worry. You will find a gas tank in the trunk when you need it.”

One day when Delrey and I were driving around town to our places given on our “to do” list, driving down 3rd street, I said, “Delrey, I keep stepping on the accelerator, but the car is coming to a stop.”

She said, “Don’t worry; there is a tank of gas in the trunk.”  So feeling confident, we got out, opened the trunk, took the can of gas, brought it up to the front, opened the hood, and thinking soon the problem would be solved. While she helped to hold up the hood, I had the tank of gas in my right hand, bending over and looking all around for an obvious place to pour it.  “Gee, where do I put it?” I asked.  I saw a knob that could have been turned, but it did not say, put GAS here.  I had my car license before  entering the convent, but it was either my Dad or one of my two older brothers who would fill the tank.  I continued to look up and down, from side to side, did not see anywhere that looked like an opening.

We closed the hood and looked in the trunk, closely checked the rounded corners, but found nothing that looked like a gas opening.

Delrey said, “Let’s look inside of the car down by the gas pedal, it would make sense to find it there.” We did not see an opening for gas.  

I waved to the next car to stop. The kind man asked, “Ladies, how can I help you?”  I answered, “Our car is out of gas and here is a tank of gas but we do not know where to put it.”

I gave him the can of gas; he walked back to the rear fender on the driver’s side, opened the lid and poured the gas into it.  Problem solved.

Smiling, he handed the tank back to me. As we graciously thanked him, I could tell by the look on his face that he had a good story to share with his friends for the rest of his life. 


Margaret Mandernach, OSB


Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Best Thing to do is Breathe

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.
This week's BLOG is written by Mo Shannon-Thornton


(Bethany Purkapile, Erin Carey and Mo Shannon-Thornton)
Can you believe I have two more months left in the program? While I’m excited to go home and see my friends, family and fiancé, I’m not excited to be leaving my students. As many of you may know, I began the BWSC program at BARN. BARN is a transitional housing facility started by the Benedictine Sisters of Bristow. I thought I would enjoy working at BARN more than I would at BEACON. However, I’ve come to love teaching English to my students. There is honestly never a dull moment in my classroom. There is always laughter, jokes and chocolate. It never fails, but my students seem to always laugh at me. Mainly because I go on long rants about how I hate the English language and how I wish it wasn’t so complicated. Keep in mind the only reason why I go on these long rants is because I get frustrated because I find myself not being able to give a proper definition of words such as “things”.

While there are many days where I feel burnt out in life, my students seem to always teach me important lessons about living. Many of my students have children and grandchildren. Their life is far busier and more hectic than mine. Yet, they find time in their busy schedule to learn English. One of my students reads fairy tales to her daughter to practice English. While she admits that she does not always understand the words she is reading, she feels proud of herself for even trying. Witnessing things like this truly inspires me. And helps me put things into perspective. There are many days where I find myself complaining and stressing about EVERYTHING! Small matters that aren’t even relevant in the grand scheme of things.

It’s ironic because while I’m teaching my students English, they are teaching me something more valuable. They’ve taught me that just because I’m having a bad day, doesn’t mean I have a bad life. So the best thing do is breathe!

God Bless,


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

God Never Gives Up!

Photo by Tammy Shoemaker, OSB
As I sat at my desk one day on a very windy day, I caught glimpse of a shredded garbage bag hanging from one of our trees high up. I have no idea how long it had been there. It made me wonder and clearly, I had no idea how it had gotten so high up in the tree. The wind blew and blew this day and I do not know how the garbage bag hung on, but it did. As I watched the bag hang on to the tree, I began to think of life and how so related we are to the bag persevering to endure the windstorm. The purpose of the garbage bag was to hold trash, leaves, clothes etc. There was a plan for it. However, that plan was changed one day by the stirring of the wind. It was nudged to take a path different from the one imagined. And though it fought its path, the bag flew into the arms of a strong tree that held it and would not let it go. While many outside sources affected the bag, it persevered, though tattered, from the storm. Its perseverance paid off.

Some days I wonder how I got to where I am in life. The plans I had did not play out in my life. In fact, the direction of my life changed rapidly without my consent. I followed without a choice. Like the bag, I did not know where I would end up, but hung on with all my heart and persevered. Sometimes hanging there left me tattered, but I still hung on. What I found is that by persevering, I landed in the arms of a loving God. A God that would never let me go. What is it that is stirring in us? Where will the winds of life lead us? Like the bag, we never know, but I trust that God has me right where I need to be. I have weathered the storms of life because I hang on to what God is calling me to be and trust that God will never let me go. God never gives up!


Tammy Shoemaker, OSB


Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Little Adventure

cid:DD1C914D-C865-40FC-B3F2-743B8F702F00Benedictine 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.

In the past few weeks since my last blog, I have been afforded the opportunity to do some amazing things. I was able to go to Washington, DC, to see most of the monuments. Sister Andrea Westcamp and I did 6.5 miles, starting in the very center of the National Mall and walking our way to each monument, starting with the Washington Monument. It was a long walk! The 6.5 miles we did was completed in just under 4 hours, but it was amazing to see the history of the United States - something I’ve only ever seen in a historical textbook.



The very next day, the community planned a trip to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s plantation and house. It was incredible to be able to spend the entire day with the sisters (and Greg, an oblate), but also to be in Thomas Jefferson’s house and to see and live the history. I’ve never been much of a history fan, but being able to walk through history and imagine what life would have been like back in time was something I know I would like to do again.  

It’s amazing how quickly an individual or group of individuals can affect your life. I’ve personally experienced this while spending my time here in Bristow. As May quickly approaches, so does the dread that I eventually have to leave this wonderful group of women and begin my adventure into the unknowns of adulthood. As I reflect on what I want in my future, I quickly come to the question of when next I will be able to visit the sisters here in Virginia. 

In just a few short months, the sisters here in Virginia have become my second family. Sometimes the love that comes with that can be a bit smothering, but then again, so can the love of a mother or grandmother. They care, they love me as much as I love them. As I spent the last week recovering from an outpatient laparoscopic surgery, the sisters did more than take care of me. They made me feel comfortable, as if I was at home. Many people had asked if my mother was going to be coming to Virginia to be with me through the surgery. As I think about this, it wasn’t necessary. I was not afraid or nervous because I knew I had 30 women waiting for me at home, ready to take care of me just like my mother would have.

I would like to thank all those that have kept me in their prayers over the past week! Surgery went better than expected and I am almost back to being my bubbly self (I have to keep the bubbles down, no strenuous activities for a few more weeks!)

Sending my love and prayers,


 (The pictures above are both from Monticello. The flowers are through a window in the cellar, looking onto one of his small gardens).