The visitators and Prioress of Saint Mary Monastery: Sisters Jennifer Mechtild Horner, Nancy Bauer, Nicole Kunze, and Susan Hutchens
There are two must-see places in Rock Island, IL. The first is St. Mary Monastery and the sisters there will direct you to the second place which is Whitey’s Ice Cream.
The nineteen sisters of the monastery welcomed a three-member visitation team in mid-February. The team included Sister Nancy Bauer, president of the Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict; Sister Nicole Kunze, prioress of Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, ND; and Sister Jennifer Mechtild Horner, former prioress of Our Lady of Grace Monastery, Beech Grove, IN.
During the February 16-20 canonical visitation, the team had the opportunity to tour the monastery, visit with each sister, learn about their new solar panels, and enjoy the natural surroundings and a sparkling snowfall. The team joined the sisters in their daily Liturgy of the Hours and at the common table.
Not only did the sisters supply the team with enough snacks to stock a grocery store, they directed them to the local Whitey’s Ice Cream where they had their choice of flavors such as black raspberry chip, peanut butter pretzel bark, white tiger paws, and, well . . . yes . . . vanilla.
The team members returned to their home states with expanded hearts and waists.
Sisters Sheila McGrath and Rachel Bergschneider, Sisters Jackie Walsh, Sandra Brunenn, and Catherine Cleary, and the tabernacle in the monastery chapel
Clockwise: Sister Sandra Bruenenn, former prioress of St. Mary Monastery, and Sister Stefanie MacDonald, a preschool teacher and member of the council fo the monastic congregation. Sister Roberta (Bobbi) Bussan, subprioress of St. Mary Monastery and director of Benet Retreat House. Sister Marilyn Roman in the monastery acrchives. Sister Nicole Kunze and Sister Judith Ann Croegaert, who chaired the Visitation Steering Committee for the Monastery. Sister Margaret Murphy.
Sister Jonathan was adorned with corsages, a tiara, and a sash for her 100th birthday celebration. She is pictured with her niece, Kirstene Herda.
Sister Jonathan Herda, a member of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph. MN, celebrated her 100th birthday on February 21, 2023.
Sister Jonathan grew up on a family farm in Lonsdale, MN, and made her first profession in 1944 and her perpetual profession in 1947.
After first profession, Sister Jonathan became a registered X-ray technician and served in that capacity in various locations, including St. Cloud, MN, and Ogden, UT. In the 1970s, she switched to Clinical Pastoral Education and became a certified hospital chaplain, serving in Tacoma and Spokane, WA, and Bismarck, ND. In more recent years, she has vigiled with sisters of her own community in their final days.
In 2019, on her 75th jubilee of profession, Sister Jonathan said, “My mission is to bring the love of Jesus to whomever I meet, wherever I am sent.”
From the top left, clockwise: The Sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery bless Sister Karen Rose after her election as prioress. Sister Nicole Kunze pins a corsage on Sister Karen Rose at the rite of acceptance of election. Sister Karen Rose with the facilitators of the discernment process: Sister Kimberly Porter, left and Sister Lynn McKenzie right.
Sister Karen Rose will serve as the eighteenth prioress of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, MN. Sister Karen was elected for a six-year term on Saturday, February 25, following a discernment process. The rite of installation will take place on Sunday, June 4. Sister Karen will succeed Sister Susan Rudolph.
Sister Karen was born in Nantwich, England, She studied philosophy and theology at Oxford University and earned a doctorate in nursing at Manchester University. She entered Saint Benedict’s Monastery as a postulant in 2007, made her first profession in 2009, and perpetual profession in 2012. She is currently the director of the monastery’s Office of Mission Advancement.
The discernment process was facilitated by Sister Kimberly Porter, a member of St. Walburg Monastery, Covington, KY, and Sister Lynn McKenzie, a member of Sacred Heart Monastery, Cullman, AL, and president of the Monastic Congregation of St. Scholastica. Sister Nicole Kunze, vice-president of the Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict presided at the canonical election.
Saint Benedict’s Monastery was founded in 1857 and currently has 157 members.
The president and the prioresses of seven member monasteries of the Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict (MCSB) attended the gathering of the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses (CBP) at Sacred Heart Monastery, Cullman, AL, February 1-8. They joined prioresses and presidents of the Monastic Congregation of St. Scholastica and the Federation of St. Gertrude as well as the prioress general of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and prioresses of several women’s monasteries that are not affiliated with a federation or congregation.
Along with Sister Nancy Bauer, president of MCSB, the following prioresses attended: Sister Susan Rudolph, Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, MN; Sister Beverly Raway, St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, MN; Sister Catherine Nehotte, St. Paul’s Monastery, St. Paul, MN; Sister Angela Hoffman, St. Placid Priory, Lacey, WA; Sister Nicole Kunze, Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, ND; Sister Susan Hutchens, St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, IL; and Sister Marva Coakley, St. Martin Monastery, Nassau, Bahamas.
During the meeting Sister Nicole Kunze was elected chair of CBP for a three-year term and Sister Susan Rudolph completed her term as a member of the Core Planning Committee.
Along with business items, participants met in small groups to talk about matters of interest in Benedictine monasticism today, such as autonomy of monasteries, collaboration among monasteries, and the current phenomenon of monasteries coming to completion.
The CBP session included two days of a joint meeting with abbots of the men’s Benedictine monasteries and presidents of their congregations. Presentations at the joint meeting focused on care of the sick within our monasteries. Brother John Mark Falkenhain, OSB, a monk of St. Meinrad Archabbey, addressed mental health concerns and a team of caregivers from Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, KS, talked about the various forms of dementia and care of the dying. The team included Sister Esther Fangman, prioress, Renee Porter and Stacey Davis.
Sister Nancy jotted down comments made by prioresses during the CBP meeting. Following are some samples.
“We have just moved into our new monastery.”
“We moved into our new monastery four years ago. We have replaced our dishwasher four times.”
“We need a bookkeeper.”
“We need a secretary.”
“The youngest in our community is 75.”
“We decided we will give temporary housing to Ukrainian refugees.”
“Oblates give us energy.”
“In 2020, we made the decision that we didn’t know what our future is, but whatever it is, we’re going to do it together.”
Sister Marva Coakley, prioress of St. Martin Monastery, Nassau, Bahamas, Sister Susan Hutchens, prioress of St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, IL, and Sister Beverly Raway, prioress of St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, MN, participate in conversation at a session of the CBP.
Sister Susan Rudolph, prioress of Saint Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, MN, and Sister Rosann Ocken, prioress of Norfolk Priory of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Nebraska, exchange candlelight for the celebration of the Feast of the Presentation.
Sister Catherine Nehotte, prioress of St. Paul’s Monastery in Minnesota, provided back and neck massages during the CBP meeting. Here she provides a massage to Sister Joanna Burley, prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, Bristow, VA.
Sister Angela Hoffman (left), prioress of St. Placid Priory, Lacey, Washington, and Sister Marva Coakley (back right), prioress of St. Martin Monastery, Nassau, Bahamas, with prioresses from other congregations.
Presidents of the men’s and women’s Benedictine congregations at St. Bernard Abbey, Cullman, Alabama
A presidential selfie at Larkwood Falls in Cullman, Alabama. Presidents of the Benedictine women’s congregations, from left to right: Sister Jeanne Weber, president of the Federation of St. Gertrude; Sister Dawn Annette Mills, prioress general of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Clyde, MO; Sister Nancy Bauer, president of the Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict; and Sister Lynn McKenzie, president of the Monastic Congregation of St. Scholastica.
The prioresses and presidents of the women’s Benedictine congregations met with the Benedictine abbots and presidents of the men’s congregations at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama. Pictured with Sister Nancy Bauer, president of the Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict, is Abbot President Jonathan Licari of the American Cassinese Congregation. Sister Nancy and the abbot president are members of neighboring monasteries in central Minnesota – Sister Nancy is a member of Saint Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, MN, and Abbot President Licari is a member of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, MN.
A Prioress of MCSB Elected Chair of Conference of Benedictine Prioresses
The prioress of a member monastery of the Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict (MCSB) has been elected chair of the Conference of Benedictine Prioresses. Sister Nicole Kunze, prioress of Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, ND, and vice-president of MCSB, will serve a three-year term as chair of the conference whose membership includes more than forty Benedictine prioresses and presidents. She was elected during the February 1-8 gathering of the prioresses and presidents at Sacred Heart Monastery, Cullman, AL. Sister Nicole succeeds Sister Aileen Bankemper, St. Walburg Monastery, Covington, KY.
Sister Nancy Bauer, OSB, visited two of the “island monasteries” of the Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict in December. Sister Nancy arrived at Monasterio Santa Escolastica in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on December 6, and traveled from there to St. Martin Monastery, Nassau, N.P., Bahamas, on December 10. These were Sister Nancy’s first visits to the Caribbean monasteries in her role as president of the monastic congregation. These were not official visitations but rather opportunities for Sister Nancy to become reacquainted with the sisters in the two communities.
The six members of Monasterio Santa Escolastica extended warm Benedictine hospitality to Sister Nancy. Their dog, Suzie, greeted her with a few growls before warming up to her after receiving some treats directly from the president’s hand.
Sister Nancy accompanied Sister Mary Ruth Santana to Colegio San Benito, the school founded by the sisters in Humacao and now directed by Sister Mary Ruth. Sister Nancy had the chance to cheer on the girls’ volleyball team, visit classrooms, stop in at the nurse’s office which is staffed by Sister Maria Ramos Feliciano, and even sell hot dogs at the Myriam Pacheco Event, a track and field competition named in honor of the late Sister Myriam Pacheco. She also witnessed the damage to the school buildings from Hurricanes Maria and Fiona and learned that the school has not yet received grants from FEMA that were promised after Hurricane Maria in 2017.
At the monastery, Sister Nancy enjoyed meals prepared by Sister Vivian Maldonada and chatted with Sister Angela Berrios about her novitiate classmates back at St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, MN. She also became reacquainted with Sisters Carmen Davila and Margarita Rodriguez.
In Nassau, Sister Marva Coakley, prioress of St. Martin Monastery, fetched Sister Nancy from the airport. When they arrived at the monastery, Sister Annie Thompson was mixing a batch of her famous coconut and pineapple tarts, with the assistance of Sister Janis Coakley. In the next few days, Sister Agnes Johnson baked dozens of rum cakes to be distributed as Christmas gifts.
Many of the sisters, including Sister Ena Albury, recalled with fondness their earlier years in religious life when they lived at St. Benedict’s Monastery and attended the College of St. Benedict or taught in local parochial schools. Sister Mary Benedict Pratt toured Sister Nancy through the beautiful 200-year-old house that is now the monastery’s guest and retreat center.
Sister Nancy enjoyed conversations with Sister Clare Rolle, who had worked with AIDS patients, and caught up with Sister Agatha Hunt outside at the Marian grotto. She also visited Sisters Jacinta Neely and Vernice Wilson in the monastery infirmary.
Sister Nancy returned from the Caribbean to a white winter wonderland, with a package of coconut candies from Puerto Rico and a pair of rum cakes in her suitcase.
Sister Laura Suhr (left) and Sister Bridgette Powers (right) with Sister Susan Rudolph, prioress of Saint Benedict’s Monastery.
Sisters Bridgette Powers and Laura Suhr made perpetual profession as members of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, MN, on July 11, 2022. Both sisters grew up in Minnesota and both graduated from the College of St. Benedict. As of December 2022, both have completed master’s degrees in theology at St. John’s University School of Theology, Collegeville, MN.
Sister Bridgette works in the monastery’s Spirituality Center and directs Benedictine Friends, a program which establishes relationships between students of the College of St. Benedict and sisters of the monastery. Sister Laura directs the monastery’s Girls, God and Good Times summer camp.
[St. Louis, Missouri] The president and two prioresses of the Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict attended the 2022 national assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in St. Louis, MO, August 9-12. Sister Nancy Bauer, MCSB president, Sister Susan Rudolph, prioress of Saint Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, MN, and Sister Nicole Kunze, prioress of Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, ND, were among the 700 women religious who participated in the first in-person LCWR assembly since 2019.
The theme of the gathering was “Mystical Wisdom: Following the Spirit’s Beckoning.” Theologians Sister Constance FitzGerald, OCD and Dr. M. Shawn Copeland launched the exploration of mystical wisdom for these challenging times in a set of two conversations.
Other highlights of the assembly included the LCWR members’ three-year recommitment to an assembly resolution to use their collective voice, resources, and influence to establish justice at the intersection of racism, forced migration, and the climate crisis.
During the assembly the members elected new leadership for the organization. Sister Maureen Geary, OP, a councilor of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Dominicans, was selected as the president-elect. She joins Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, who will serve as president for 2022-23, and Sister Jane Herb, IHM, who will serve as immediate past-president. Elected to the national board were Sisters Laura Bregar, OSU; Nkechi Iwuoha, PHJC; Patty Johnson, CSJ; and Sean Peters, CSJ.
The Outstanding Leadership Award honored 2020 recipient Sister Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, past president of the National Black Sisters Conference and current leader of her community; and 2022 recipient Sister Pat Murray, IBVM, current director of the International Union of Superiors General.
Recordings of the LCWR presidential address, the two conversations between Sister Constance and Dr. Copeland, and the tributes to and responses from Sister Patty and Sister Pat as well as some of the printed texts of presentations are available now on the LCWR website. The website also has a four-minute video and photographs of assembly activities and participants.
The three participants from the Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict enjoyed an evening with prioresses in attendance from the Monastic Congregation of St. Scholastica and the Federation of St. Gertrude.
The Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict held a Chapter meeting in July 2022. At that time, prioresses and delegates of the member monasteries elected Sister Nancy Bauer as president for a six-year term. Sister Kerry O’Reilly completed her term. The Chapter will meet again in 2025.
Sister Nancy (left) was installed as president of the Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict on July 24. She is pictured here with outgoing president Sister Kerry. Sister Nancy and Sister Kerry are both members of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota. We are grateful for Sister Kerry for her seven years of dedication to the monasteries of our congregation and for Sister Nancy’s yes to serving as president for the next six years. May God bless them both.