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,


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