Benedictine Sisters of St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, Illinois
November 2008
Benedictine Sisters monastery grounds at St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, Ill Steps
Discerning your path in life

Benedictine Novice Stefanie MacDonald enjoys conversation with Sr. Sheila. You want to be a WHAT?
Parents share feelings about their daughter's call.

What would your parents say if you told them you were going to enter religious life? Would they be upset that you will never have children? In disagreement with your choice of religion? Unhappy that you're moving away?

Steps recently had a chance to ask such questions of the parents of our canonical novice, Stefanie MacDonald. Kathy and Steve MacDonald told us how they felt when Stefanie first announced her plans, and shared their feelings about her life with the Benedictines today.

What did you think when Stefanie told you she wanted to enter religious life?

Steve: It didn't surprise me. Stefanie always went to Mass and took theology classes in college. She chose to teach at a Catholic school.

Kathy: Religious life seemed to fit Stefanie.

Were you disappointed that she would not be having her own children?

Steve: Stefanie loves kids, which is why she chose to be a teacher and surround herself with children every day. As for me, we already have grandchildren from our daughter, Naomi. Naomi and Stef each chose the right path.

Kathy: I always thought the decision to get married and have children was my daughters' choice, not mine. Religious life fits Stefanie better than married life.

Stefanie had a lot to give up: a good job and friends. Her own place. Her car.

Steve: Our biggest concern was her teaching job - her career - which was very good. Her evaluations were great, she loved everyone and they loved her. I thought, Gee, you want to give all this up? What if it doesn't work out?

Kathy: Anther concern was our youngest daughter, who is intellectually disabled. She was accustomed to spending a lot of time with Stefanie. I worried, How will MacKenzie cope?

How long did it take for Stefanie to find the right community?

Steve: Stef lived with one order for a year before deciding there would be no - or very little - difference between living as a single woman and living as a sister there. It seemed like all the orders she visited after that were either community-oriented or ministry-oriented, but never both. And that didn't appeal to her.

Kathy: Stefanie was looking for a blend of three things: community and structured prayer and social justice ministry. She finally found it by Googling words like community and structured prayer together online.

When did you know that she had found what she was looking for?

Steve: When Stefanie came back from her first weekend with the Benedictines, she was so happy. She wanted to go back as soon as possible. This was a great sign that it would be a good fit.

Kathy: It seemed to have the blend of community and structured prayer life that she was looking for. It was social justice oriented.

Stefanie has lived in Rock Island for a year and a half, and has completed nearly half of her canonical novice year. How has it been for you?

Kathy: This year has been hard for all of us (the canonical novice year is spent almost exclusively at the monastery, with family visits taking place only every two months). We were used to vacationing together and doing things like Christmas shopping together.

Steve: We miss her terribly. But on the other hand, she could have gotten married and moved to Oregan. We have friends whose daughter moved to France. Stefanie has told us that this has been the happiest part of her adult life. As a parent, when you hear your child say that, everything else seems minor.

How do the two of you feel about the community?

Steve: When we visit, the welcome we receive is so warm and loving. There's always someone there to greet us, give us a hug. They invite us to meals and to spend the night. It's a good, good place.

Kathy: Our daughter MacKenzie loves it there, too. In some ways, I think it has been good for her. She enjoys visiting with all of the Sisters, and they are very kind to her.

Steve: Sometimes, I think, parents fear they'll never see their child again. But the Benedictines have the right mix of new-family, but don't-forget-the-old.

Kathy: We all want our children to lead happy and productive lives. To see Stefanie be so welcomed by this strong and vibrant community that is doing good work is wonderful. She is living a happy and meaningful life. We are just thrilled."

Religious art from St. Mary Monastery

Benedictine Sisters Reflect on The Lord's Prayer

The Lord's Prayer, given to us by Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount, shows us how to pray and what to pray for. It shows us how to live our lives. Nearly 2,000 years after it was first spoken, it is still rich with meaning.

Theologians surmise the Lord's Prayer must have come as a surprise to the disciples. Raised on the psalms and formal religious ceremonies of the Old Testament, they might have expected elaborate preparation and formal, lengthy recitation when they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. But Jesus responded with the simplicity, intimacy and confidence of a child petitioning a loving parent. He prayed to Abba, which in his native tongue of Aramaic meant Daddy.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name

"Jesus taught us how to talk to God," liturgy director Sr. Mary Core, OSB, says. "He said, 'Our Father, Our Daddy.' You can't get any more personal than that." Read more!
St. Scholastica, on the grounds of St. Mary Monastery
Benedictines are different.
Benedictine Sisters crave quiet ... and laughter.
Benedictine Sisters crave solitude ... and companionship.
Benedictine Sisters drop everything three times a day to pray together.
Our ministries - from retreat work to social work, and education to art - never take us far from home.
For more information, contact Sister Bobbi Bussan (below) to learn more!

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Benedictine vocation director Sr. Bobbi Bussan, OSBTo give you a chance to learn about Benedictine Sisters and our way of life, we welcome you for a visit. Call (309) 283-2300 or e-mail Sr. Bobbi to set up a good  time. Or join us for a Benedictine Experience Weekend on one of the following weekends: Dec. 5-7, Feb. 27-Mar 1, April 3-5. No matter when you come, there is no cost to you. We look forward to a morning, evening, weekend or week with you! And visit our Web site at