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