History

THE ST. PAUL’S MONASTERY STORY

Prayer, hospitality, stewardship, and reaching out in service are values central to our community

Our History

As Benedictine Sisters, we follow the Rule of St. Benedict, which is based on Gospel values. Prayer, hospitality, being good stewards and reaching out in service are values central to our community life.

We, the Sisters of St. Paul’s Monastery, have a proud heritage that dates back to 1852 when three sisters left their monastery in Eichstatt, Bavaria, to establish the first Benedictine women’s monastery in America. They came to St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania, to educate the children of the German immigrants.

Their school and the membership in their community grew rapidly. Five years later, several sisters journeyed to Minnesota and established the first Benedictine Monastery in the Midwest at St. Joseph, Minnesota. Again, they came to be of service to parents and children in the schools. This community flourished rapidly, developing into the largest Benedictine Community in the world. Over the years, ten monasteries were founded from that place.

St. Paul’s Monastery is one of these foundations. In 1948, 178 Sisters left St. Benedict’s to establish a new monastery at 301 Summit Avenue in St. Paul. The same courage and deep faith of the pioneering sisters who came earlier to America and Minnesota attracted many women to join our community in St. Paul. We soon outgrew the space on Summit Avenue and so made plans to build a larger monastery on the outskirts of St. Paul.

St. Paul’s Monastery purchased land adjacent to Hill-Murray School, which we built in 1958 and staffed until 2000. We moved into the new monastery at 2675 Larpenteur Avenue in January 1965. This place was a center for prayer and the formation of women desiring to live our monastic way of life. It was a place where we were enriched for our ministries, whether they were at the monastery or in numerous schools and institutions throughout the metro area and greater Minnesota.

In 1994, we made the important decision to spend time meeting as a community to reflect on our role as Monastic women amidst the changing times in the Church. We were intentional about addressing the challenges of society, especially how best to respond to the needs of women, children, families and elderly in our local area and the wider community. We were committed to supporting and sustaining our corporate ministries: The Maple Tree Childcare Center, the Benedictine Center, and the Ministry of Mothers Sharing, as well as the ministries of individual sisters who were employed in parishes and institutions throughout the metro area.

We were empowered to make bold decisions over fourteen years of careful planning, with a spirit of deep prayer, and with the advice and help of people from outside our community. We sold the monastery building to Tubman, an agency that provides safety for women and children. We sold some of our land to Common Bond which develops affordable housing. They built 48 townhomes and a 40-unit residence for seniors on our campus. We were happy to invite these two agencies, who along with our sponsored ministries, help us spread our Gospel values. We are especially called to serve women, children and families in need.

February 10, 2009, was a significant day in our history. We moved into our new monastery at 2675 Benet Road. The chapel is at the center of our life, a quiet space always open to welcoming others to join us in prayer. There are private spaces for the sisters as well as common areas for visiting and greeting guests and family. The Healthcare Center staff care lovingly for our elderly and ill sisters. The building stands alongside our cemetery, a living testament of the life of prayer, faithful work and sacrifice of the sisters who have gone before us.

We are proud to journey with people and organizations who partner with us as we carry on the vision of being an authentic expression of a community of women rooted in prayer and centered in the call to serve others for the sake of the gospel. To learn more about our history click here.

 

St. Paul’s Monastery History

To appreciate the history of St. Paul's Monastery, we need to go back to Eichstätt, Bavaria. In 1852, three of the Sisters left their monastic community and came to the United States to find the first benedictine women's community in America. They originally came to St. Mary's in Pennsylvania to educate the German immigrants who were here and also to spread the Benedictine spirit and values.

 

 

 

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OUR MISSION

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RULE OF ST. BENEDICT

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OUR HISTORY

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OUR PEOPLE

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OUR ART COLLECTION

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PASSAGES

 

 

THE WORD OF OUR FOLLOWERS

Thank you so much for making the world a better place – and for giving God’s love to all those in need of hope and care!

Reneé Valois

May God bless you all for that you do! Let us all pray for a better, more loving, and peaceful world. May all of us live together as a family of brothers and sisters in Christ.

CC Pupek

Our story of knowing the Sisters is probably somewhat similar to all of yours. We came to know Sister Lucia and Sister Jeron when we joined St. Peter’s Parish in North St. Paul back in 1990. Sister Lucia was the music director at the church and Sister Jeron was in the choir. Janis was attracted to the choir and because of her musical background quickly bonded with Sister Lucia. Through the years, Janis has played her cello at Monastery masses and participated in other music-related ministry work with the Sisters. Through Janis’ connection with the Sisters at St. Peter’s, we were introduced to the Monastery and the rest of the Sisters. That connection proved valuable when, a few years later, Janis became very ill with a chronic disease. The hope that the Sisters offered to us was very reassuring, and the knowledge that this whole community of Sisters was praying for Janis’ health gave Janis a level of confidence that things would get better. I don’t think we can overemphasize the power of group prayer—especially group prayer by this group of wonderful people. Prayers together in a monastic community setting are especially powerful. We are convinced that Janis would not be living the life she is today without the prayers of this community. This is such a special place – this corner of Maplewood. In a world full of doubt, conflict, hopelessness, this corner of the world is like an oasis. I don’t know about you, but when we walk into this building we feel a sense of calm and a feeling of genuine goodness. And look at the goodness these Sisters have given us. A school where kids can learn in a Christian setting; a haven for those many children who find themselves in crisis domestic situations; a place for those in need of affordable housing; and a center that offers safe and convenient child care.

Mike and Janis Nash

Your prayers are of more value than any of us realize.

Jerome Miller

Sister Mary Lou Dummer: You know how very important our family is to us – and we so appreciate your prayers for them.

Jerome and Barbara Bovy

Sister Karen Sames: thanks cousin, for hearing his call and answering it. You do so many unnoticed great works that I forget sometimes how many people you help with all the work and prayers. My family feels blessed from being part of your life, especially Stephanie.

Debbi Gosse

I have much to be thankful for, being introduced to your Monastery and Sisters when I came for a Ministry of Mothers Sharing leadership training. I so loved the atmosphere: your peacefulness, hospitality and your chanting of the hours. I still hum the melody of that week when I pray mine every day. I would love to get back and see your new surroundings. I pray for all of you every day. Sister Paula, I love you!

Bonnie Chester

I left St. Paul in 1963 to serve in the Fargo Diocese until returning here in 1995. It was within a few months that I became a member of a priests’ support group that enjoyed your hospitality for its meeting place and continues to do so. In those days, we met in time for dinner with you and stayed over night in the guest wing. I enjoyed the graceful, curved stairway that took us to the dining room. I think we left after lunch the next day. It was likely at the time you moved to your current monastery that we began to meet at about 3:00 PM, leaving the same evening following our meeting. During my earlier years with you, there was a lay woman on your staff who presented an education seminar periodically, and I enjoyed being a part of her sessions as well. The affordable housing project on land adjoining the former priory, as well as the fine service for women in the former priory building, speak highly of your commitment to social justice. I think it was shortly after moving to St. Pascal’s as pastor in 2009 that I began to have the privilege of presiding at your weekday Masses periodically and frequently staying for lunch or dinner. Being with you on a more casual basis has led me to realize that you served in a number of K-12 teaching positions, several worked as nurses, and some on parish staffs in a variety of positions. Thank you for the pleasure of feeling a part of your community and the apostolic mission you serve.

Father Dave McCauley

I’d like to offer a short testimonial about how the Sisters of St. Benedict at St. Paul’s Monastery in St. Paul, MN have both affected me personally and how they have had an impact on the broader church. It has been my privilege to celebrate Mass with the Sisters once a month for the past few years. I am always struck by the beauty of the Liturgy: the prayerful attention the Sisters bring to the celebration, the excellence of the music choices, the nobility of the architectural space in which they worship, and the honest artistry of the things used in the liturgy (e.g., the vestments and vessels). In a very hectic world, it is deeply nourishing for me to be able to find spaces for stillness and unforced prayer such as those I have found at the Monastery. It has also been my privilege to do some educational/spiritual programs for interested individuals attracted by the Monastery’s reputation as a center for spiritual growth; the Sisters have always been exemplary in their welcome to spiritual seekers. They truly embody the Benedictine value that “all guests are to be received as Christ.” I’d also like to point to two areas in which the Community has had incredible impact on the wider church and world. For years they were involved in the religious education of young people attending what is now Hill-Murray High School. In fact, the land on which Hill-Murray presently stands originally was in the Sisters’ care and they continue to support Catholic education there. Some years ago, in an act of truly prophetic foresight, the sisters chose to “downsize” from their earlier monastery, building a new one on the same property more suited to their present numbers. Rather than demolishing their earlier building, they have partnered with a variety of social service groups to provide excellent housing on their property for women and children at risk of homelessness, transforming both the earlier monastery building and erecting many new homes on the site. I pray that the sisters of St. Paul’s Monastery continue to offer their witness of daily prayer, deep love of the scriptures, and outreach in loving service to the wider world for many years to come!

Father Jan Michael Joncas

I have known the Benedictine Sister of St. Paul’s Monastery since the 1970’s when I first began my ministry as weekend chaplain. And although that service was discontinuous over the years, I have remained close to this community. Working as I have over the years in the Medical School at the University of Minnesota this community of Sisters has been my Benedictine home away from home. One of the most important values that they have provided by their life in the Monastery is stability – a sign and symbol of being a place of the Lord’s service. This sense of place that they project is a constant reminder to me of our Benedictine call to prayer and work and neither is to exceed the other in a well-balanced and equitable life. Their sense of hospitality invites all to come and share in whatever capacity possible in this rich synthesis. In this way, the visitor or friend who cannot live within the Monastery walls can take with them the experience that they have shared with the Sisters and allow it to continue to influence their life apart from the Monastery. They provide a spiritually nourishing and sustaining monastic peace that becomes their gift to the community at large.

Father Cyprian Weaver

THE RULE OF ST.BENEDICT

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 THE RULE OF ST. BENEDICT

 

The Rule of St. Benedict serves as an invitation to open our hearts to God. It summons us to recognize our responsibility in the world and the proper use of resources. Above all, the Rule reminds us of the fundamental value of living our lives in search and service of God, preferring nothing to the love of Christ.