Sister Cathleen Marie Timberlake is the inspiration behind Monastery Scents, the Congregation’s line of handcrafted soaps and lotions. Born in Orange, Calif., she entered the Benedictine Sisters when she was 18 and has served in a variety of leadership positions throughout years.
Monastery Scents began when Sister Cathleen Marie decided to pursue her interest in soap making as part of the Sisters’ devotion to St. Benedict, a monastic who stressed the importance of work and prayer. Armed with nothing more than a recipe and a photo taken from the Internet, she jumped in and never looked back.
She began the business by cooking and mixing the soap in a series of small crock pots found in any kitchen pantry. Under her guidance, Monastery Scents has expanded to include more than 40 different scents and a line of guest soaps and wedding favors, all of which are sold in boutiques, gift shops and online at Monastery Creations. Her soaps have also become a popular item for schools and organizations raising funds for worthy projects.
“I love creating something the sisters can use and benefit from,” she said. “Monastics are encouraged to live by the work of our hands and that in all things God might be glorified.”
Sister Cathleen Marie knew it was important to make a connection between the Sisters’ ministry of prayer and the work of their hands. In a moment of inspiration, she realized that by adding a drop of holy water to each batch of soap - combined with a prayer - was the perfect solution. At first, she kept that part of her recipe a secret. But word spread and she discovered people enjoyed hearing about the addition of holy water. As a result, the soaps have become a favorite gift for those who are ill or for soldiers serving overseas.