Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Abby in the Abbey: Christmas Time

Hi everyone, Abby here.  It has been a long time since I last wrote everyone about what is going on in my life and here in the Monastery.  The Sisters are so busy these days getting ready for Christmas.  I’m trying to help as best as I can.  You can see me lying under the tree, I gathered up all of the paper clips and rubber bands that fell on the floor while Sr. Leah Ann and Sr. Kevin were decorating this morning.  I don’t know why I get scolded for doing this because I’m just trying to help.  I guess the Sisters don’t like it when I try to eat them.  Don’t know the whole reason for that but I guess you have to be a human to understand it.

The last time I wrote it was hot out so it was a long time ago because by now I am wearing my coat and boots when I go out.  I just hate putting that stuff on especially the boots.  I do have to admit though that when it is -22 like last week end they felt pretty good on my feet.  Why is it that you dread the things that you need to do and in the end the situation usually turns out for the best?  I guess I am still learning about all of that. 

I just wanted to write you and wish you a Merry Christmas from me, Abby and all of the Sisters!


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Abby in the Abbey: Dessert With the Sisters!

Hello everyone!  Abby here again!  I am just loving being outside these days.  I have lots of friends I see when I’m out walking in the mornings getting exercise and enjoying the day.  There are so many people that take me for walks that I have to say I am what Sr. K says…spoiled!  I don’t know what that means, but when the Sisters say spoiled I think it means…no more treats!

Here at the Monastery the Sisters are getting ready for lots of big celebrations, but Sr. K wants me to tell all of you to reserve June 12th from 2-4 p.m.  There is something called “Dessert with the Sisters” and they will have all kinds of wonderful things to eat plus you get to visit with my family here at the Monastery…the Sisters!  It will be a very wonderful time of seeing and enjoying one another.  I suspect that I will spend the day in my room, but that’s OK if I get visitors!

I know some of the Sisters have been busy making beautiful craft items because they want to help their Sisters in India buy a minivan so that they can go to Church together on Sundays.  I saw some really nice things so far, but I have to admit that I did steal a ball of yarn and unravel a knitting project a little bit.  I got scolded but I saw some Sisters laughing too!  Sometimes it’s hard to tell wrong from right!

Till next time…Abby

Monday, May 9, 2016

130th Jubilee of the Congregation and the Year of Consecrated Life: Generalate District- Punalur, India

(In 2016, we look back upon 130 years of our history, with more than 1300 women living as Missionary Benedictine Sisters. Over the months, we will bring to you the histories of our Priories and Sisters across the World.)

On November 9, 1996, Mother Edeltrud Weist, Sr. Cecille Ido, and Sr. Lioba Yang arrived from Rome.  At the same time arriving at the Trivandrum International Airport from the Philippines was Sr. Leoni Joseph Manimala who had just completed an integration experience.  A short time later, Sr. Veronica Origines, who was in Rajkot, Gujarat State since 1995 as an instructor at the Jonas Institute of Nursing, would join the group to form the founding community in Vilakkudy.

They were welcomed by Bishop Mathias Kappil, the first Bishop of this rural diocese formed in 1985.  He brought them to the parochial house in Vilakkudy.  This was a small house with four bedrooms, a small room for the chapel, a kitchen and washing areas.  It would become the "entry point" for other congregations, too, who desired to serve in this rural Punalur Diocese dedicated to St. Therese of the Child Jesus.  Since the Diocesan minor seminary was on the same property, the Sisters had daily Holy Mass with the young seminarians.

The foreign sisters needed to exit the country at frequent intervals to renew their visas. It created an extra challenge for the small group.  Yet, as a foreign congregation, girls started to inquire and ask to enter. After visiting their families, already in 1997, six girls joined the Sisters in the small house.  The aspirancy had begun.  In the next years, more young girls were taken in, guided in their faith life and taught English while they attended the local high school to complete the two-year program of formal education. 

Mother Edeltrud Weist, the first Superior, always was busy soliciting funds for the daily needs of the growing community, the education of the aspirants, a suitable land property, as well as the construction of a stable monastery.  At the same time she remained a strong influence in the formation of new members as Missionary Benedictine Sisters.

A permanent location for a suitable convent and land was found on a recently planted rubber tree plantation near the town of Punalur some 8 kilometers from Vilakudy.

The monastery was constructed on one of the knolls in this mountainous region of Kerala.  The winding road that had to be built leading to the top of the knoll reminded the pioneers of the road to Monte Casino.  So, in their many walks and rides on the winding way up and down, the sisters affectionately referred to the knoll as "Benedictine Hill".

By January 2000, Shanti Nivas Monastery was blessed.  One year later the chapel was dedicated. Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Koln Diocese, Germany, a significant benefactor, among other generous supporters from abroad, blessed the new edifice. The first profession in the new monastery was in December 2002. Since then, the community has grown to include 14 professed Indian Sisters and 3-4 foreign Sisters who live the common monastic life with the Liturgy of the Hours prayed in English.

St. Benedict Nursery School was opened in June 2000 upon the request of neighboring parents.  Each year the number of students grew, until in 2004 the Lower Primary School (Standards I to IV) took on an official status. 

In the first 10 years the classes were always accommodated in the basement of Shanti Nivas convent in 4-5 small basement rooms, plus 2-3 other classes in the big hall, and at times outdoors under the trees. Already several batches of Standard IV students needed to transfer to other Upper Primary schools to continue on to Standard V.  But parents desired that their children continue at St. Benedict English Medium School.

By January 2010, a spacious 3-story school building at the far end of the property was completed and dedicated.  Each year following, Standards Five, Six and Seven were added, the levels allowed according to government regulations.  The current enrollment remains around 200 students with the majority of them of Hindu tradition.

Other ministries of the Sisters of Shanti Nivas community are associated with the Cathedral Parish. The Sisters assist with the catechetical programs, help in diocesan initiatives for faith development, visit the sick and elderly parishioners and neighbors, and continue vocation promotion activities beyond the Diocese.

A valued supporter to the early development of the community in India was Oblate Isabella Mary Thennapilly (died May 23, 2015), who bridged contacts and candidates of the Syro-Malabar and Latin Catholic rites, aided in the community outreach in Rajkot in Gujarat State, and who modeled great dedication to the poor, the sick and the health care ministry, especially in the area of Rajkot.  Visa problems for foreign sisters and limited personnel prevented development of the Jonas Institute outreach at Rajkot.  

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Norfolk Area Big Give!

The Missionary Benedictine Sisters are proud to be participating in the Norfolk Area Big Give - a 24 hour charitable challenge organized by the Philanthropy Council of Northeast Nebraska. The giving holiday will take place May 24th from midnight to midnight. Mark your Calendars because we will need your help! 

Norfolk Area Big Give is a 24-hour period of giving where Norfolk area supporters are invited to give back to their favorite local charities and educate themselves on other non-profits in our community.
The goal of this community-wide giving event is to match Norfolk area supporters' passions and generosity with local nonprofit organizations already doing great work. Though community members are aware of the efforts of several non-profits in the area, there is much work that goes unnoticed.
Through the combined participation of all Philanthropy Council collaborative partners, it is our goal to further educate community members on the robust non-profit sector we have here in the Norfolk area and give them an opportunity to make a significant impact on the future of our beloved community.
The Missionary Benedictine Sisters Project is a Minivan for the Sisters in India! 

Our Missionary Benedictine Sisters in India are in dire need of a minivan so that they can go together for Mass and other activities. They currently have a smaller SUV that is not large enough for all of them so the younger Sisters have to go separately. They must walk for 20-30 minutes down a mountain to the bus. There is a safety issue for them walking to the bus stop and even riding on the bus. We would like to help them purchase a bigger vehicle. 
How Can You Help during Norfolk Area Big Give?
Donate to us on May 24th! On our donation page there will be a special drop down choice under "Use my Donation for this Purpose" and it will say Norfolk Area Big Give- Minivan for the Sisters. 
Spread the Word! Tell your friends that you will be giving to the Missionary Benedictine Sisters during Norfolk Area Big Give on May 24th and that you need their help! 
Post about the Norfolk Area Big Give on Social Media! Let your friends and followers know how they can give.
Cheer us on! On May 24th, watch the leaderboard on and update our progress on social media.
Save The Date! May 24th will be a great day of generosity in the Norfolk Area. Get excited and ready to share your enthusiasm for the Sisters throughout the day. 
Thank you for your ongoing support of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters. We can't wait to see the Norfolk Community band together to give! 
For more information and to see what other organizations are raising money for please go to

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Abby in the Abbey: Live in the Moment!

Hi everyone!  Can you believe it has been five whole weeks since I wrote last?  I have sooo much to do here at the Monastery that time just flies for me.  Sister Rita Marie (my BFF) left for Rome almost five weeks ago and I still miss her a lot.  Sr. Leah Ann was gone the whole past week too so Sr. K was left to take care of me.  I kind of became a “snuggle bug” with her since I missed my two friends so much!  Us dogs have it easier than people because when we are lonesome or miss someone we can usually find someone else to take over, but for people it isn’t always that easy is it?

I kind of think that when someone passes away or moves on in life people really grieve for that loss.  That brings me to my thought for the day: How do you all cope with loss in life?  Sr. K says that it is important that people pray for everyone every day, but mostly for the people in their lives who are suffering from being sick, who are mourning a loved one or who are not happy in their own lives for some reason. 

I think us dogs can teach people a few things about that.  We live in the moment and make the best of it. Yes, we get sad, but somehow can work through it better.  Just some advice from me, Abby.

One more thing…this past week Sr. K said that some very sad dogs came to the Animal Shelter here in Norfolk.  I feel really bad about that, but I know that sooner or later they will be the best friends of someone who will give them a wonderful home and they will forget all that bad stuff because of what I said before…LIVE IN THE MOMENT!

Have a great springtime everyone!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ministering to Refugees in Germany


The Missionary Benedictine Sisters Serving Refugees in Germany

By Sr. Fabiana Wessiepe, OSB

In her report Sr. Fabiana Wessiepe both shares her experience of the encounters with asylum seekers in Tutzing and writes about her giving German language lessons. She is not the only one teaching, but also Sr. Magda Eberhard, Sr. Georgia Otto and Sr. Walburga Volkhausen (who is living in ‘House Benedict’, getting down to the Motherhouse for the classes held at the parlor there) 

Mission Opportunities at our doorstep: 

The large wave of refugees in Germany reached Tutzing in autumn 2015. Whereas in former times there were just smaller groups of people seeking refuge and asylum, it was necessary in September to pitch tents in the southern park of Tutzing. In addition to a so called family tent (which hosts 48 persons in total – men, women and children), there is as well an allmale tent with 80 residents.

Together with the arrival of so many refugees in Tutzing the circle of supporters grew simultaneously and constantly. It is very kind and helpful that the municipality is working closely together with the two major churches. As a matter of course Rev. Peter Brummer from the catholic parish provides the premises and facilities of the parish center “Roncalli House” for meetings and events. Also language courses take place there as far as possible, but the capacity is far from sufficient.

Thus since October 2015 our convent has been looking for a possibility to get involved to a larger extent. For quite some time we had already put available the house Birgitta for underage unaccompanied refugee girls and we have also spoken up for them together with their supervising tutors: The girls are professionally supervised by the staff of the association "Help from person to person". Sr. Corona Betz and Sr. Magdalena Geigle are the contact persons from our part. Now a small group of elderly sisters spoke up for giving German language classes for the newcomers.

Where do the refugees come from? 

Currently there are mainly young men from Afghanistan and Pakistan and some African countries, which come to us. This choice is based on the fact that we teach beginners who are either illiterate or do not know the Latin alphabet. For those who already master one of the European languages things are much easier and they may go to advanced German language courses. Women and children are housed in the family tent, where they are taught together there because the children are either in a day care center or at school.

All refugees who have come to us so far are Muslims, but they are tolerant to the Christian faith. They accept us, our beliefs and the Christian symbols, feasts and celebrations. Again and again we experience in the classroom that details of their experience come up such as incidents with the Shariah, terrorist threats or killings of family members. They also express their great concerns about their countries, because they recognize themselves that the youth 6 is quitting home and only the elderly remain.

What can we offer to them? 

Provide attention - a place where they can come and openly share their concerns somewhat. Then of course it is about the acquisition of the German language and this is a very difficult undertaking. For a start we may not assume anything and we have to start by learning the ABC as in the first grade (class 1), seeing the young men arduously painting their characters. Those who have already visited school in their home country are familiar with the Persian font that rather resembles the Arabic. There you start books and notebooks on the last page and write from right to left. So there is a need of relearning also in this regard. For us teachers, it means that also we on our part do not understand neither their language nor their font and we have to explain every word by means of images and signs. 

Particularly difficult are the much-prevalent German umlauts (mutated vowels) or words that are similar to a letter but have very different meanings such as Uhr / Ohr (clock/ear); Hase / Hose (rabbit/pants) and so on. This has led already to curious confusion. Occasionally they have picked up some English at home or on their way out. This facilitates communication a little. Particularly the refugees from African countries have a slight advantage due to this fact. During the language classes we get to convey time and again some of our values such as when talking about Christmas and New Year wishes.

Cultural Differences: For the men it is not a matter of course that women self-confidently give lessons, greet them with a handshake and look at them in the meantime.

Difficulties that show up: 

  • Poor Class Attendance: 
    • The refugees complain much that it is quite noisy in the big lodging in the evening and that they only sleep poorly in a room with so many people. Also the different mentality still might be important: They still have to get used to German thoroughness and punctuality.
  •  Composition of the group:
    • A homogeneous group with participants from the same cultural background and with similar educational background is desirable. This is not the case
    •  Participants come at different times during the course of study 
    • And the participants themselves have to learn to live and study together with other nationalities. 
  •  German calendar is not a simple task. 
    • Solar Calendar
    • New Year
    • Participant Age calculation (When birthday is known) 
    • Muslim feasts and special times such as Ramadan are concerned, they follow the lunar calendar, which again has a very different count.  

Despite all these difficulties, we are pleased that that we can have a small share in the international understanding and we appreciate the confidence and friendliness which our students are granting us.

Feel free to read full article on our website

Friday, March 25, 2016

Abby in the Abbey: SPRING!

Happy Easter everyone!  We are starting my favorite time of the year….spring!  I just love rolling on the grass and being outside a lot of the time.  I think people do too because there are plenty of them walking past our house especially on very nice days. Just the feeling of new things springing up really is such a happy feeling.  Sr. Monica looks up in the trees for the singing birds when we go for walks and tries to point them out to me, but to tell the truth, I’m not very interested in birds when they are singing, only when they are on the ground so I can chase them around!

I hope everyone takes this time of new beginnings, starting with Easter and moving into spring to give thanks for everything we have.  I know the Sisters will want me to tell you all that they are praying for you.  You know sometimes people just say “I’ll pray for you”, but the Sisters really do pray for everyone who asks them.  They even have this book that I saw in the back of the chapel where they write it down when someone asks them for prayers!  So, if you are reading this you can go right to the website of the Sisters and ask them for prayers.  I even saw on Sr. K’s computer that there is a place where you can light a candle!  Try it out!

Until next time this is Abby in the Abbey signing off.  

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Seven Last Words of Jesus

Keep Watch with Me: The Seven Last Words of Jesus 

By Sr. Inviolata Mukhaabi, OSB

Father, Forgive Them, for They Know Not What They Do (Luke 23:34)
Who are "THEM"? I look at Jesus hanging on the cross, at the point of death, and saying "Father, Forgive THEM"  and I wonder who he is actually referring to. Those soldiers crucifying him? Sure. The crowds standing by jeering? Indeed. The disciples who ran away and left him alone? Of course! Does that include Peter, who denied him three times? You bet. What about Judas the traitor? Was he forgiven in that single prayer? YES, Jesus forgave Judas. But in some way we were all represented in those categories of people who played a part in putting Jesus on the cross... He forgave us too. Let us not give up as Judas did. Jesus pays our debts on the cross, and forgives all our sins, deliberate or otherwise. Let us give Him a chance to touch and forgive us. "Never despair of God's mercy." (Rule of Benedict 4:74)

Amen I Say to You, This Day You Will Be With Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43)

The Kingdom of God belongs to rich and poor alike, the aristocrats and the commoners alike, the saints and sinners alike. No one is excluded from the Kingdom of God; that is , NO ONE who dares to ask to be remembered by Jesus. All the Thief dared to ask was a memory of him; he received something much better: the assurance of Paradise. When we look at Jesus Crucified, let us see what the Thief saw: Lord and King. Even Crucified, God is not powerless; in fact His power to save is greater when he hangs suspended between heaven and earth. Don't lose hope, regardless of what you have done or been accused of doing, Paradise is opened by the Crucified Lord. Just ask.
Woman, Behold Your Son; Son, Behold Your Mother (John 19:26)
"I will not leave you orphans," Jesus said to His disciples. Hanging on the Cross, he keeps that promise. He gives them over to the care of His Blessed Mother. Knowing they will need her strength and faith to deal with his death and the days ahead, Jesus gives His Mother to the disciples. Like the disciples, we need the strength and the faith of the Blessed Virgin Mary in order to understand Jesus, follow Him, and still believe in Him, especially when faced with the spectacle of the Cross. Let us then, turn to Mary our Mother and ask her to pray for us; let us ask her to walk with us; let us ask her to help us see and love Jesus as she does.

My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46)
Have you ever felt alone and forsaken, and just at the moment when you would really have used company and support? Well, the Lord, hanging on the cross apparently felt that way. However, He also felt a sense of Hope and trust. When you read Psalm 22, which begins with those words' "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" you realize that it was both a plea for help and an expression of confidence and hope. When we feel abandoned and alone, let us remember that we have a Savior who knows what that feels like; let us then go to him in our loneliness and ask him to keep us company in our hour of need.
I thirst (John 19:28)
I agree with all those who see in this plea of Jesus a spiritual longing. However, I also agree with those who basically see it as it was: an expression of a physical need of a crucified Man. In those words of Jesus we hear the need of those who lack bare necessities of life like water and food; we hear the longing of those who are helpless and are hoping that someone(you or me) will hearken to their aid. Of course we hear the spiritual longing in the Crucified Savior as he longs to share in our life. He is thirsting for your life and mine, hoping that we can offer him a drink from our life to quench his spiritual thirst. Will we heed the Lord's need? What will we offer Him? Cheap wine? Vinegar? Or a heart contrite and humbled.
It Is Finished (John 19:30)
In these three words is a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. Jesus has done all he came to do. In the Garden, he prayed to be spared, but the Father's will was that he should drink the cup of suffering. Hanging on the cross, at the point of death, the Obedient Son has carried out His Father's will, and all that remains is to trust that the Father knows what comes next. In these three words we can find our own sense of finality. When we have done all we could do, we can be like Jesus and trust that God has the plan and the map, and He knows the next step.
Father, Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit (Luke 23:46)

The entire life of Jesus, from incarnation to the death on the cross has been one act of surrender. "My food is to do the will of My Father," "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many," "Let it be as you will it," are all examples of Jesus' selfless life, a total giving of self to carry out the mission of redemption. With his final breath, all he has left is to surrender the breath of life - his spirit - into the hands of His Father. May this be our inspiration and our source of strength as we seek to give of ourselves to God's mission.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

130th Jubilee of the Congregation and the Year of Consecrated Life: Benedict House - Tutzing, Germany

 In 2016, we look back upon 130 years of our history, with more than 1300 women living as Missionary Benedictine Sisters. Over the months, we will bring to you the histories of our Priories and Sisters across the World.

Benedict House - Tutzing, Germany
For some time the Leadership of our Congregation had recognized the need of founding a home for old and sick German Missionaries that wished to return to their homeland or could not be cared for in their mission countries. In addition, political developments in some countries made the return of German missionaries advisable.
Therefore, during the 1976 general chapter it was decided to find a suitable place for such a home,
since the Tutzing Motherhouse did not have sufficient space.
The generosity of a Tutzing citizen, Mrs. Johanna Schwamm, provided the answer.  She bequeathed to the Congregation her considerable property with a picturesque pond at today’s Benediktenweg in Tutzing, exactly right for this purpose.
On March 19, 1979 the ground-breaking  was performed by Mrs. Schwamm, Prioress eneral M. Gertrud Link, Sr. Maria Froning, then prioress of the Motherhouse,  Sr. Christiana König and other sisters.
Already on August 15,  1980, the new building for the old and sick missionaries, “Haus St. Benedikt” was opened and blessed, all government regulations having been observed.   It is a beautiful building in a wonderful environment!
 The present superior of the community,  Sr. Chantal Gerster, had served as a missionary in Korea and also as general councilor in Rome.                                                                                                           
Haus St. Benedikt“  is part of the Generalate District. In the 35 years of its existence, 82 sisters from all our mission countries have lived in this Haus St. Benedikt  and were lovingly cared for until God called them home.
Today Haus St. Benedikt is fully occupied with 33 missionaries.  Former Abbot Theobald Schmid, OSB after 15 years of spiritual service in our house, had to return to St. Ottilien for reasons of age.  Fr. Philipp Maucher, OSB is now caring for the sisters as chaplain.
All the sisters still able to do some services are helping with tasks in house and garden.  For many years the periodical “Kontinente” was edited in Haus St. Benedikt, and also the first website of the Congregation in three languages was developed and edited here.  At this time one sister is giving pastoral care to old people in a home at nearby Garatshausen and another sister gives German lessons to refugees.
However the most important task for all the sisters is their personal prayer and the prayer in Choir, where as true missionaries they bring the concerns and needs of our world and our church before God, including especially the people that  had been entrusted to their care  for many years.

Ten Filipinas who have joined the community as oblates are caring lovingly for the old and sick sisters in house, kitchen and infirmary.  They remain in Germany for some years, then return to their homeland and their families.  Especially during celebrations, they give joy to the sisters by their presentations and native dances.

Even two former prioresses general spent the last years of their life in Haus St. Benedikt:  Mother Gertrud Link (+1990) and Mother Edeltrud Weist (+2012).
Since May 24, 2011, the offices of our Congregation’s Mission Procure have been located in “Haus Schwamm” on our grounds. As a place of contact with the sisters and the churches of the entire world, the Mission Procure has manifold tasks. It gives not only financial assistance, but serves also by more and more meetings and contacts with the whole world.


The sisters and employees aim to bring treasures and the needs of the young churches close to the people here in Germany. They remind them of their missionary co-responsibility as Christians and strengthen this awareness.

Finally one can call the Haus St. Benedikt as “Thanksgiving-House”, in which the harvest of many and fruitful missionary service is bundled and brought into God’s eternal dwellings.
Willligis Jäger, a spiritual author of our time, wrote:
“Old age offers to us the last chance for human maturity.  It is a decisive phase of life, an offer to grow still more and to embrace everything in life. Now it is important to complete our birth, because we are still in developing!”

Our Website:








Thursday, March 3, 2016

Meet Our Sisters: Sr. Gabrielle Marie Oestreich, OSB

(Meet Our Sisters will be a Blog Series to get to know our Sisters from the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Norfolk, NE. Each month we will feature a new Sister and her journey to become a Missionary Benedictine Sister.)


Born: Lansing, Michigan
First Profession: August 2, 1997
Final Profession: February 10, 2001
Feast Day: March 25
Mission Experience: Philippines, USA
The question of why I became a Missionary Benedictine Sister always seems to arise, especially if someone knows my background.  Why after a successful career as an officer in the United States Air Force, retiring as a Colonel, would I “give up everything” to enter a monastic community?  And the next question (usually from the men) is “what happens to your retirement pay?”  Of course the answers are both simple and complex.  Simple:  God called me here!  Complex: There has always been a deep desire to serve God as a missionary – to spread the Good News of Jesus far and wide.  It began as an awareness as a young girl and went through many stages of acknowledgement and denial as I went from childhood through adulthood.  There was always an unfulfilled yearning – a voice of ‘Come follow me’ – that I could never satisfy with all the success and comforts of the world.  God definitely led me to this community – to these my fellow sisters – to walk the remainder of this life’s journey to Him in this way of life.
It would be difficult to identify which specific experience has been most rewarding as a sister – there have been so many.  However, I would have to say working in the parish as Director of Adult Formation and similarly as Novice Director.  Both jobs have allowed me to journey with others in their quest for God.  Both experiences have been tremendous privileges to observe God’s grace at work ‘close up and personal’.
 Were there challenges?  Of course! There still are.  Adjusting to community life after being extremely independent and self-reliant has and continues to stretch me.  I believe one significant challenge has been the difference in which community decisions are made and actions taken.  My background formed me to be a person to quickly analyze the challenges we face, look at a variety of options, make the decision on a specific course and act.  This series of actions was quick and decisive.   Projects, challenges, etc.  are addressed – handled - and then forgotten.   Community decisions are approached much differently.  All members’ opinions are sought and mutual decisions made.  When one considers that not everyone in a group processes information or makes decisions at the same speed, you can understand how frustrating it may be to keep revisiting the issues/options until all members are ready to make a final decision.  This is never an exercise in efficiency – but normally takes 2-3 times as long to bring the entire community to the point of consensus.  This challenge of course has graced me with renewed patience – at times.  It’s always in God’s time – not mine!
For those discerning a commitment to religious life I would say – listen to your heart… God is speaking in a whisper and will never lead you astray.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Meet Our Sisters: Sr. Lumen Odom, OSB

(Meet Our Sisters will be a Blog Series to get to know our Sisters from the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Norfolk, NE. Each month we will feature a new Sister and her journey to become a Missionary Benedictine Sister.)


Born: Tennessee/Georgia, USA
First Profession: March 9, 1996
Final Profession: September 4, 1999
Feast Day: February 2nd
Mission Experience: Guatemala, China, USA
I am a native of the state of Georgia; however I was born in Tennessee because my father worked in the low mountain region of Georgia on the Tennessee border and there were no other hospitals close by.
From the time of my earliest memories to the age of 10, I lived on an island off the coast of Georgia, named St. Simon's Island. From there my family moved to Columbus, GA on the western edge of the state and I graduated from high school there. The University of Georgia was my next education stop because my father would hear of nowhere else. After my graduation with a BS degree in Dietetics/Institutional Management, I served as an Army officer 6 years to fulfill my ROTC scholarship requirements.
After some discernment and earning my BS in Nursing, I decided to enter the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Norfolk, NE. I made my first profession on March 9, 1996 and my final profession on September 4, 1999. My mission experiences as a sister include a few months in Guatemala for Spanish language immersion. This experience helped me become more fluent in Spanish in order to serve the Latino patients in our local hospital.  Later, when I was offered the chance to be missioned to China, I jumped for it. I served with the sisters in Meihekou City, Jilin Province for 7 years in the Aimin Hospital.  My nursing ministry in the hospital included staff education and clinical nursing rounds with the nursing directors. My favorite part of this ministry was going out on our mobile clinic to meet and serve the rural poor of our area. This has been the most rewarding experience of my missionary life so far!


Friday, February 5, 2016

Abby in the Abbey: Big Blizzard

Hi everyone! 

I hope you all survived the big blizzard!  It was a little difficult for my Sisters with my having to go outside in that stuff, but we all made it just fine.  I am a little confused by all of the snow that is in my regular path especially since I am not much of a “snow” dog.  At least my fur is pretty long right now and that helps plus my coat that Sr. Marie Andre knitted for me.  Do you know I also have boots?  Well, they are not my favorite either but I’m pretty patient when Sr. K is putting them on me.  Sr. Marie Andre also made me some new ones that I am still getting used to wearing but they feel pretty good in this cold weather!

I was thinking the other day that the Sisters are getting ready for something called “Lent”.  Maybe this snow is God’s way of telling us that He is in charge of things and not people (or dogs either).  We get to thinking that we can control all kinds of things in our lives but as the Sisters keep telling me, we have to depend on God for everything!  Even the bad stuff is good for us in some way and that is really hard for me to understand.   Sr. K says it is a way that God can teach us how to have something called “faith”.    

So I just want to say that I hope everyone has a good experience of Lenten preparation for growing in “faith” and for realizing that God is in charge of everything!  I’m going to try and grow up a little myself but I need help from people to do that.  It is a very slow process! 


Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Cross Exemplifies Every Virtue - St. Thomas Aquinas

What a beautiful reflection St. Thomas Aquinas has about the Cross of Christ. As I prayed with this during the Office of Readings this morning, which happens to be the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, I felt compelled to share it with you all. 

"Why did the Son of God have to suffer for us? There was a great need, and it can be considered in a twofold way: in the first place, as a remedy for sin, and secondly, as an example of how to act. 

  It is a remedy, for, in the face of all the evils which we incur on account of our sins, we have found relief through the passion of Christ. Yet, it is no less an example, for the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.

  If you seek the example of love: Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends. Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake. 

  If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross. Great patience occurs in two ways: either when one patiently suffers much, or when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not avoid. Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because when he suffered he did not threaten; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth. Therefore Christ’s patience on the cross was great. In patience let us run for the prize set before us, looking upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before him, bore his cross and despised the shame. 

  If you seek an example of humility, look upon the crucified one, for God wished to be judged by Pontius Pilate and to die.

  If you seek an example of obedience, follow him who became obedient to the Father even unto death. For just as by the disobedience of one man, namely, Adam, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many were made righteous.

  If you seek an example of despising earthly things, follow him who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Upon the cross he was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, crowned with thorns, and given only vinegar and gall to drink.

  Do not be attached, therefore, to clothing and riches, because they divided my garments among themselves. Nor to honours, for he experienced harsh words and scourgings. Nor to greatness of rank, for weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on my head. Nor to anything delightful, for in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." 

May we look to the Cross as we struggle to understand our own crosses. St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Meet Our Sisters: Sr. Dorothy Frances Brooks, OSB

(Meet Our Sisters will be a Blog Series to get to know our Sisters from the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Norfolk, NE. Each month we will feature a new Sister and her journey to become a Missionary Benedictine Sister.)


Place of Birth: New York, USA
First Profession: April 25 1962
Final Profession: May 5 1966
Feast Day: February 6 – Feast of St. Dorothy, Virgin and Martyr

Mission Experience: USA, Spain, Brazil
I became a nun because I felt I was called to believe that the holy purpose of our lives is to put God at the center through a deep and broad love of others and to teach them how to do this. Imagine if all our relationships between strangers and nations were rooted in God’s love for us and aimed at bringing each of us to wholeness and holiness.
My ministry after I finished college was to teach social studies and religion to grade and junior high school students. I taught in Raeville, Madison, Columbus, Winnebago, and Norfolk in Nebraska as well as in Los Angeles and Kentucky. I was also missioned to Madrid and Barcelona in Spain where I taught English and worked with Filipino migrants. I was also missioned to Olinda, Brazil where I taught English. While working in the various places, I also made and effort to provide the individuals with spirituality services. At present I am helping one of our Sisters who will be going to Spain to learn how to speak the Castilian Spanish which is spoken there.
As a Missionary Benedictine Sister, my most rewarding experience was to develop a close relationship with others.
For those discerning a commitment to religious life, I would tell them about the holy purpose of their lives.