Following the Footsteps of St. Benedict

From May 8 to May 18, three Benedictine Novices, Dorothy Herring, Sonja Weber and I, were at the Novice and Director Institute (NADI) retreat at Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, Alabama. This retreat was part of our preparation for Initial Monastic Profession.

We had a very tight schedule. We started prayers at 7 am, then breakfast at 7:30, and at 9 we had a talk on a specific topic related to the Benedictine way of life by one or more of the Sisters at Sacred Heart. Around 11:30, we had Mass or Centering prayers, depending on the day. Lunch at noon and free time to enjoy the wonderful grounds.

The lake at Sacred Heart Monastery

At 2 pm we returned to the retreat center to receive more teachings, all this to help us in our preparation for our life as professed monastics, and then we had free time. We returned to the chapel at 5 pm for vespers, supper and Compline. I really liked that the Sisters celebrated compline in the refectory, the same place where we enjoyed our supper. Then at 7:15 we had a Social. This was our schedule most of the time.

Our social time sometimes was really an extension of more teachings, presentations or “Skit” preparation. However, we had some special days. On the 6th day at NADI we arrived at “La Casita - Guadalupan Multicultural Services,” in Birmingham Alabama. We helped three Mexican Sisters, Rosa, Juventina and Martha Elena reach out to families of immigrants to inform them about the services they offered at “La Casita.” The people are very poor and very generous at the same time. In each house we visited they offered us water since it was a very hot day. Emma Verduzco, a volunteer at “La Casita” offer us a hearty and delicious lunch. The following day, Sunday, after Mass, the three novices and two Sisters went out to have a picnic supper at the lake House, a vacation spot for the Sacred Heart Sisters.

Making clay flowers

On Monday, the 8th day of NADI, Sister Adrian McLean taught us a creative activity: we created a pottery flower. I loved it! At night the novices received a blessing for our “Desert Day.” On Tuesday, the 9th day of NADI, we savored our “Desert Day.” it was a day of silence, meditation, pondering all the teachings received, allowing them to simmer in our soul. I spent time at the pond that the sisters called a “lake,” walked around the property and discovered a river (the sister called it a “crick”). I loved listening to the birds sing, watching the fish jump to catch a fly, and a family of groundhogs play. On Wednesday we had a ritual of integration and closure. After lunch we were free to practice our “skit.” We were so tired that we didn’t know what to practice: we needed to create something first. Needless to say, “the three novices’ skit” was a complete failure and a very humbling experience. Blessed be God for these teachable moments.

During this time at NADI I received a firm confirmation of my call. It was nice to meet other Benedictines. Yes, I am a Benedictine too. I loved to be there, and love a lot more being back home where I belong.

 

Comments

  • Comment posted by Jeannine Desautels on June 3, 2023 at 6:34AM (12 months ago)

    So very happy for you Paz. I think you have finally found your spiritual home. Peace and the love of God be with you. Hugs. Jeannine

  • Comment posted by Kathryn Rickert on June 3, 2023 at 3:59AM (12 months ago)

    Gracias que sigas en este sendro.
    .Gracias a Dios que eres Benedictina.
    Felicitaciones.

    • Comment posted by Paz on June 7, 2023 at 8:59PM (12 months ago)

      Gracias Katheryn,
      Espero que nos visite unos de estos días.
      Ya abrimos el monasterio.
      Bendiciones

  • Comment posted by Laura Swan on June 2, 2023 at 8:43PM (12 months ago)

    Wonderful pictures. Wonderful story!

    • Comment posted by Paz on June 7, 2023 at 8:59PM (12 months ago)

      Thank you Sister Laura Swan

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