Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mercy in the Garden

Kate Ritger, in the Common Ground Garden
knee deep in snow

The Common Ground Garden is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) garden founded by the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict in 1993. This farming model, with roots in Japan and Europe, is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and supporters. Members make a financial pledge and promise to contribute time and personal skills to the farm. They receive a weekly share of fresh vegetables throughout the growing season and develop a relationship with the farmer, the land and other members.


Gardens are about growing food and are intrinsically about feeding the hungry, the first “Work of Mercy” noted in Chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew. The CSA model and our Benedictine mission is to feed the hungry by focusing on hospitality and relationships. We have relationships with our members, work share participants, (members who can work to reduce the cost of their garden share), clients at the St. Joseph Food Shelf and those who participate in Joe Town Table, a free monthly community meal in St. Joseph. 


This year we will also build relationships with those who utilize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). SNAP garden members will be able to use their benefits to purchase a CSA share. We look forward to the personal skills and friendship they will bring to the garden community.


Whether you live in St. Joe or many miles away, whether it’s early February or the middle of the harvest season, we encourage you to find ways to deepen relationships with the farmers, land, food and neighbors around you. Nourish your bodies, care for the earth and when in St. Joe, stop by and visit us.

Kate Ritger

Common Ground Gardens Production Manager

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What Is Your Vocation?

S. Lisa Rose, far right
The word vocation is not limited to religious life, as I have learned over the years. One definition for the word vocation is "a call." For me the definition of "call" means to “listen to God.” What is God calling me to be or who am I to become? These are two great questions to keep in mind as you listen to God. It is in listening to God through prayer and conversations with others that your personal vocation may become clearer. If I ask myself “When was my religious vocation clear,” I cannot fully answer the question. One thing I do remember as being a strong element in my religious vocation goes back to the day I entered Saint Benedict’s Monastery: September 3, 1983. It was during my first meal in the monastic dining room, when an older sister, Sister Remberta, came over to the table where I was sitting. What she said to me that evening still sticks in my head as if she said it yesterday, “Pray for perseverance every day.”  Praying for perseverance is a way I live out my vocation every day. By asking God for guidance I am strengthened in my monastic vocation and I am able to grow through the ups and downs of life. Living with my sisters in community through our common commitment to prayer and work, I am strengthened. So my vocation which began in the 1980s is still growing in 2016.
If you would like more information about Saint Benedict’s Monastery please contact Sister Lisa Rose at

Lisa Rose, OSB

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Walking Each Other Home

Sometimes when the New Year rolls around, and I am deciding whether or not I really want to invite myself to a new path for the months ahead, the details of the plan can get a bit unrealistic.  It occurred to me that if I share a short plan with a friend I might be a bit more committed to it and allow the plan to become more “at home” in me. After I took this first step I realized that hearing myself say it out loud made the unfolding of it even more concrete and honest.  For me the whole point was simply taking another personal step on the path that leads to greater wholeness, compassion and God-connection. Sharing it with someone may be yet another expression of what Ram Dass says, “We’re just walking each other home.” 

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Help My Poinsettia to Live!

I have a very beautiful white poinsettia gracing my office at the moment. It worries me. I don’t have a green thumb and my previous experience with a poinsettia was dismal. A friend presented me with a flourishing specimen on December 6 one year and by Christmas Eve it had precisely one leaf hanging precariously on the stem.


Why then did I decide to have another go? Well, I was sorry for this plant. We had an abundance of them, both red and white, decorating Sacred Heart Chapel, the Gathering Place and the Oratory. After Christmas most of them are taken away and sisters are invited to take one if they’d like to. Poinsettias that aren’t claimed go to make compost. And that’s what touched my heartstrings. There were several plants left and I felt I had to save at least one from a freezing death on the compost heap. I took the smallest one available in the hope that it would seem a less overwhelming responsibility. It doesn’t.  I’ve had it about a week now. It’s feeling a bit dry and one or two of the leaves are yellowing. I think it needs watering but I’m approaching that possibility with some trepidation as I’m pretty certain the death of my last poinsettia was partly due to drowning.


Why am I blogging about this? It’s an attempt to involve you! I’m feeling that if this poinsettia could feel waves of positive thoughts about its survival coming from you, it might give it a will to survive that can overcome the toxicity of my ministrations. I care about my poinsettia, even though I’m not an ideal foster parent for it. Please help my poinsettia to live!


Karen Rose, OSB



Tuesday, January 12, 2016

School of Benedictine Spirituality

A good policy for living is “if you are on to something good, share it.” That’s what we sisters are doing and it even has a nameThe School of Benedictine Spirituality. We know it is a good thing because we are living it, Benedictine monastic life that is. The values of this spirituality are so livable–community and hospitality and prayer. Other values like obedience and humility and stability seem reserved to religious life, but really when you understand their meaning you see how each fits in anyone’s life. That learning would be with the course, LIVING BENEDICTINE VALUES.


And really this Benedictine way has been around more than 1,500 years; there must be a secret after all.   What do 21st century women in Stearns county Minnesota have in common with sixth century Benedict of Nursia, Italy? An insight into that offers an insight to the longevity of the Benedictine way. The HISTORY AND SPIRITUALITY OF THE BENEDICTINE TRADITION course introduces us to the secret.


ORA ET LABORA. PRAYER AND WORK. That is the Benedictine motto. It is simple and to the point. There are many ways to pray and the PRAYER AND WORSHIP IN THE BENEDICTINE TRADIITON will look at public and sacramental ways of praying while the course called lectio refers to the individual and personal way of praying. You come away using words like lectio and Liturgy of the Hours (LOH) and the Rule freely and with meaning!


If you are interested in understanding more about Benedictine spirituality, consider participating in the following course at the School of Benedictine Spirituality at Saint Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, Minn. We are now taking registrations.


School of Benedictine Spirituality: Living Benedictine Values

January 29-30 and February 20-21 (Two meetings, Friday through Saturday on two weekends)

Time: 9 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.

This course, taught by Mary Reuter, OSB, is a prerequisite for all proceeding courses in the School. Learn about The Rule of Benedict as a guide to living a committed life that integrates Gospel values such as prayer, hospitality, community, respect for all creation and beauty. Benedictine spiritual practices such as Liturgy of the Hours, lectio divina and spiritual companioning will be introduced. Fee: $150 Sponsorship opportunities available.

To learn more, visit


We are onto something good – come and share it.

By: Kerry O'Reilly, OSB


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Sensing a Call

My name is Sister Lisa Rose and I entered Saint Benedict’s Monastery in 1983. An interesting fact about me is that my birthday is on the same day on which we make our monastic profession. So for me this meant that it was my twenty-fifth birthday when I made my first profession and when I celebrated my fiftieth birthday it was also my twenty-fifth jubilee. The celebration was two-fold and a wonderful day to be with my community, family and friends.

My years in the community have taken me through many different ministries. I started in health care and currently work with our vocation team. As I work with vocations I am asked to tell my story of how I was called to join this community. My story begins as a student at the College of Saint Benedict. As I listened to God calling me to religious life I was confused and questioned, “why me?” The more I dialogued with others, their response was usually: “Oh I knew that.”  Why is that I could not see what others were seeing within me? 

So now that I am a member of our vocation team I will have the privilege of walking with women who, as I was, are sensing a call to religious life. I am grateful for this new ministry, because I believe that as I listen to their stories I will be able to recall my own story. In this way I will deepen my commitment to our community through our common life of prayer and work as together we seek God.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Learning to Listen

Sisters Clare Shadig and Ephrem Hollermann
I’m really not all that good at listening. I wish I were, but I know I am not. If a dear friend wants to share a story with me about losing her job I find myself making suggestions rather than letting her talk it out. That’s why I know I am not a good listener. 

Not being in another person’s position, how can I know what is better for him or her?  Who, better than the sharing person, can decipher what works for them? Basically, the tellers of the story are the ones who can come up with a response far better than the listener. 

A good listener lets people tell their story with all the blatant facts, desires, regrets or feelings they may have, and does not judge them for any of it. They encourage them to continue their story. If I shift the focus to my experience instead of keeping it on theirs I am interrupting their chain of thought. Refraining from small distracting movements such as checking who is going past the window and keeping an open mind for whatever is shared is also helpful to the speaker. 

Moments of silence are just fine; they give the speaker time to listen to his/her deepest thoughts. I once read that when someone shares with a good listener, they may learn information about themselves that they never knew they knew. Wow!

As for me, I can work on myself to become a better listener. Besides following the directives mentioned earlier, I can also encourage the person by keeping eye contact and by using simple gestures that show I am processing with him or her.

Careful listening affirms the speaker and encourages him/her to listen to what comes to them.  


Janet Thielges, OSB