Knowing Your Roots

Our novices just returned from a visit to one of our out-of-town ministries, as well as a visit to St. Marys, Pennsylvania. This small town is home to some big Benedictine history.

St. Joseph Monastery is located in St. Marys. Benedicta Riepp, a Benedictine sister, founded this monastery when she came over from St. Walburga Abbey in Eichstatt, Bavaria. The monastery is the first in the Federation of St. Scholastica, of which the Erie Benedictines are a part. (We are actually the second monastery.) So, basically, we are talking about the roots of our family tree. The community there has since dissolved, and three of the sisters joined us here in Erie.

When the novices returned yesterday, they had a gift for me. They brought me a medal of St. Benedict from the motherhouse there. Much bigger than the one that I wear around my neck, I was grateful to receive something that connects me to the larger history of Benedictinism.

Each and every day I am learning more and more of the history into which I am entering. Whether through reading, hearing a story, or asking a question, I am also growing in appreciation for all that history means: the hard work, the dedication, the change throughout the years, and the spirit of community that connects our sisters across the ages.

All of these things come together to create our Benedictine tradition. One tradition that I love is hearing the names of the sisters who came before us. You can easily read those names on our necrology board, but if it is the anniversary of a sister's death, we remember that sister's life in a special way during evening prayer. Hearing the year in which the sister died adds even more to my appreciation of the lineage.

In this month when we celebrate the Communion of Saints, I, too, am reflecting upon the Communion of Sisters that we share as Benedictines. How exciting to enter into the history!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

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