Visitation and Whitey’s Ice Cream in Rock Island, IL

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.

Congratulations Sister Nicole Kunze!

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.  


Rum Cakes and Coconut Candy: President of Monastic Congregation Visits Member Monasteries in Puerto Rico and Bahamas

January 11, 2023

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.

The Monastic Congregation of St. Benedict is Represented at 2022 LCWR Assembly

[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.

Election and Installation of President

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.

Mother Benedicta Riepp

Mother Benedicta (Sybilla) Riepp, OSB

Foundress of Benedictine Women in America

Born in Waal, Bavaria, Germany in 1825

Came to Pennsylvania from St. Walburg Abbey in Eichstatt, Bavaria in 1852

Arrived in St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1858

By the time of her death in 1862, Benedictine convents had been founded in St. Marys and Erie, Pennsylvania; Newark, New Jersey, and St. Cloud, Minnesota; Covington, Kentucky; and Chicago, Illinois.