News from the Benedictine Center of St. Paul's Monastery
from the current exhibit On Community: A Collaboration of Women Artists
Jul. 19 - Aug. 1, 2016
Words to the Wise
"We don't change as we get older -- we just get to be more of what we've always been."
S. Sarah Voss OSB Dies at Age 79
S. Sarah Voss OSB died on Jul. 12, 216, surrounded by the prayers of the Sisters and succumbing to her long battle with leukemia. S. Sarah's many and varied talents and interests led to a variety of ministries. She was prepared as a teaching and taught 8th grade at different Twin Cities schools for 10 years. Spending time at the U of M engaged her artistic talents. She always found time for painting, providing works of art for feast days, Christmas and greeting cards. Her studies at Notre Dame led to a degree that prepared her to be an administrator in community health centers and nursing care centers. Health problems never seemed to diminish S. Sarah's zeal to serve or contribute her gifts, whether it was on the community's monastic council and finance committee, the Federation finance council, or participation in art shows. The CSP House was her "culminating ministry"! She had long had the dream for a studio which would provide a place for sisters, friends and neighbors to get their hands involved in discovering their own artistic talent. Some of S. Sarah's many works are on display at St. Paul's Monastery, including "A Byzantine Icon Revisited" (located in the cloister walk in the permanent exhibit called Benedictines As Artists)
"May they prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may Christ bring us all together to everlasting life." (RB 72)
Remembering S. Sarah Voss OSB
by Victor Klimoski
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of spending a morning with S. Sarah Voss in her studio talking about her art.  My purpose was to explore with her, at the request of the Prioress, how  best to catalogue her body of work.  In the course of the discussion, Sarah reflected on her story as an artist.  It is a story nearly as important as her call to religious life, for being an artist was for her doing the work of her soul.  Art was not a hobby or pastime.  Sarah recognized early in her life that it was a language she needed when words failed.  So she worked at her art, learning from others as she completed a bachelor of fine arts and deepening her technique by enrolling in a master's program.  In the middle of that MFA program, she was summoned to the Prioress's office and told she would switch graduate programs to prepare herself for health care administration.  It was not something she anticipated or wanted, but she was a nun and she obeyed.  That set her on a course defining how she spent her days professionally, but at night - in her freetime - she was an artist.
Like every artist, her approach was not universally acclaimed.  I didn't like everything she did, but over time I came to appreciate how diligent she was in staying at her art even when she knew that people, including members of her community, were not fond of what she did.  This is the artist's fate - to return again and again to one's art form whether or not the results receive acclaim.  At the heart of the artist's call is to paint or write or sculpt or weave or compose because not to do so deadens part of one's being.   Sarah understood this in her bones, continued to seek out others for instruction and was a teacher herself of other artists.  She may not have thought of her instruction in her studio as pastoral ministry, but at one level it surely was.  Nurturing the artistic call of others is truly tending to the good of their souls.
The following poem is a tribute to Sarah's artistic spirit.  Undaunted by the demands of administration, I imagine her coming back to the monastery or to her apartment at the end of the day and greeting her easel as she might a dear friend.  In the moments that followed, she left the world of work and entered a more "secret life," a life where her eye could glimpse and then record her experience of beauty and God's grace.
The Secret Life
A memorial poem for S. Sarah Voss OSB,
health care administrator and artist
Weary from the day's work,
you enter your room and see
the white canvas waiting for you.
You look beyond its pale plain
  to its soul,
and your soul,
stirred by its innocence,
bursts into flame so intense
it burns away your burdens.
Then in ritual gesture,
your brush bearing a blue
                 worthy of morning sky,
you anoint the canvas
with the indelible  mark
of good beginnings.
Once begun, your soul soars,
riding with childlike glee
          ethers of inspiration
that raise you up and above
                   worries and doubts.
In what is an act of love,
you bring color and form
                       into holy unity,
the canvas your companion,
               who helps tell the tale,
but keeps your secret.

Communication To Build and Sustain
Healthy Workplace Relationships
A workshop for Church Staff Teams
August 18, 2016  8:30a-3:30p
Benedictine Center
Ask a church staff what would most help increase morale and enrich the environment for their work, and at the top of the list is communication.  It is the fundamental building block for a sense of common purpose, mutual understanding, life-work balance, and managing the toxic impact disagreements and conflicts can have.  But effective communication takes constant intention and effort.  Workshop leaders, Mary Jo Wimmer and Vic Klimoski,create a safe setting for church staffs to reexamine what they really want in terms of communication and to identify realistic expectations and practices for communication that set positive change in motion. For further information:
Current Exhibit
On Community: A Collaboration of Women Artists
Over the last year a circle of women artists has been gathering regularly for conversation and reflection on the theme of community, a central value of the Benedictine monastic tradition. These women, bringing their perspectives from different religious traditions, have been exploring their own and their shared interpretations of community, and have created original works of art that communicate their discoveries. Exhibit open 9a-6p daily thru Aug. 25.
Directed Retreats
Consider spiritual direction along with your personal retreat if you would appreciate a companion and guide to the experience. Whether you meet once or daily, spiritual directors can help create a non-judgmental environment for attending to the presence of God in one's life. Call 651.777.7251 or email to explore the options.
Coming Up . . .
Virginia Matter
Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina Retreat
(waiting list open)
Fri., Aug. 12, 7p thru Wed., Aug. 17, 1p
S. Virginia Matter OSB
$375 includes lodging and meals
$150 thru Sunday only
Experience a time of profound silence and praying the Scriptures as you enter into deeper relationship with God and self. Blends a rhythm of centering prayer, lectio divina, and prayer with the monastic community. Register online.

Carol Rennie
Taizé Reflection: The Questions of Jesus
Fri., Aug. 19, 10a-8p
S. Carol Rennie OSB and Mary Janssen Oblate
$40 includes lunch and supper
This day of conversation and quiet reflection is inspired by the provocative questions of Jesus found in the Gospels. Led by a spiritual director and Oblate of the monastic community, the experience concludes with prayer in the style of Taizé. Register online.
St. Catherine University Announces Ministry Tuition Remission for Spiritual Direction Training
The Spiritual Direction Certificate program at St. Kate's is offering a new funding incentive for people who are doing church ministry and who are interested in becoming trained in and studying the ministry of spiritual direction.  Having been training spiritual directors for nearly 20 years, this new initiative specifically benefits clergy and ministers.
Here's how: this new initiative, Ministry Tuition Remission, allows qualified candidates to pursue studies in the spiritual direction graduate certificate at St. Catherine University at a reduced tuition rate of 50%.  Furthermore, if qualified candidates already have graduate degrees in theology (which is the case for clergy and most ministers), up to one-half of the required core theology credits can be transferred in, which reduces the overall duration and cost of the program.
As you can imagine, St. Kate's is eager to share this opportunity and incentive with prospective students. Pass the word--the initiative begins in fall 2016! For more information:
Explore the Benedictine Center's Latest Publication
To request a hardcopy, please email the Benedictine Center. Alternatively, Download a PDF copy to view the new edition or  explore online the upcoming opportunities for retreat, prayer and rich conversation.
Recommended Reading
The Way Forward:
A Collection of Benedictine Inspirations
Timeless meditations connecting Benedictine wisdom to everyday life. Available in print and digital editions.
Matters of Life and Death by Victor Klimoski
Poems that capture ideas that will not let go, including what it means to live up to the day we die. Available online.
Illuminating Ministry
A Journal, Vol. III
An opportunity for church leaders to join in prayer and reflection with The Saint John's Bible. Available online.
Upcoming Events
Other Events/Resources of Related Interest

Sam Rahberg, Director


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The Benedictine Center shares the monastic heritage of St. Paul's Monastery with all who seek to live with the Gospel as their guide.
Benedictine Center of St. Paul's Monastery, 2675 Benet Road, St. Paul, MN 55109