What does semi-cloistered mean?
It means that although we observe a certain amount of enclosure for the sake of our contemplative life, we're not strictly cloistered. While we work within the monastery, we may leave for education, workshops, recreational outings, shopping and needed appointments. Each sister is also allowed an annual two-week home visit/vacation.
How much silence is there?
We have silence at night and this lasts until after Lauds or Eucharist the next morning (depending on the monastery’s schedule). During the day we maintain a quiet, prayerful atmosphere, but speak as is necessary at work, as well as enjoying conversation during meals and recreation.
Why don't you vow poverty, chastity and obedience?
Our Benedictine vows come from the Rule of Saint Benedict which was written centuries before poverty, chastity and obedience became the standard vows.
Saint Benedict's vows (or promises as he called them) are stability, ‘conversatio’ and obedience. Stability is a commitment of lifelong fidelity to God and our Congregation. ‘Conversatio’ is a commitment to embrace all of monastic life as a path to holiness and conversion. This includes poverty or simplicity of life and chastity. Obedience is a vow of listening, responsive love to the voice of God as it comes to us through prayer, the Rule of Saint Benedict, Scripture, our prioress and our sisters.
How much do you pray?
We come together four times each day to chant the Psalms and listen to Scripture, as well as having daily Eucharist. We spend about 2 1/2 hours each day in personal prayer. This includes lectio divina (prayer with Scripture) adoration, contemplative prayer and individual devotions.
What are your ministries?
Our ministry is prayer! We receive many e-mails, letters and phone-calls requesting prayer. We are also aware of the many in our world who suffer greatly and have no way to request our prayer or are without faith. We offer not only our times of prayer, but everything we do for their needs. We welcome those who wish to share in our prayer or take time for their own prayer and renewal.
If you don't have jobs outside the monastery, what kind of work do you do? How do you support yourselves?
The main way we support ourselves is by making altar breads (communion hosts). We also make liturgical vestments, soap, gourmet popcorn and publish a magazine called Spirit and Life. Besides these works, sisters answer e-mails and letters, welcome guests, plan our liturgy, take care of our monastery and grounds, garden, cook, clean, write, fix things, take care of our elder sisters, and more. The important thing is not so much what we do but striving to do all with the remembrance of being in God’s presence.
What do you do for fun?
Some things we like to do: enjoy nature; take walks; bike; play ping-pong, basketball, or other sports; fish; ride in our paddleboat; make pottery, soap, or other crafts; play board games, cards and work jigsaw puzzles; garden; practice musical instruments, and watch an occasional movie or ball game on T.V.
Do you wear a habit?
We do not wear a ‘traditional’ habit but we do wear black and/or white skirts/blouses or dresses. Simplicity and practicality are important to us. We receive our black and white clothing when we make First Monastic Profession. (Before Profession, women in formation wear colored skirts/blouses/dresses) At this time we also receive the Congregational emblem (a Benedictine cross with the symbols of the Eucharist). The veil is optional. Sisters receive a ring at Final Monastic Profession.
Do you ever get to see your family?
Yes. We get two weeks every year to leave and visit family or friends. However, all holidays and Feast Days are spent here with the community. Our families can also visit us at the monastery at various times.