Speeches from the Benedictine Center 40th Anniversary

View the remarks as recorded on August 15 at the Monastery for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Benedictine Center on the Sisters' Facebook page.


Reflection by Sister Virginia Matter, OSB

Welcome and thank you for your presence, I am delighted we are all here to celebrate these forty years for the Benedictine Center

I need to begin with my grateful heart for my classmate, Sister Veronica Novotny’s wisdom and vision to create a Spirituality Center in our former Monastery and how it has flourished over these forty years. Not without its difficulty, challenges, prayer and joys. Sister Mary White and I were blessed to be part of that first staff. Sister Veronica would be so happy to be with us in person tonight, so we thank her for her spirit.

The special gift we offer through our Benedictine Community is welcoming guests into our Monastic home and rhythm of life, all are invited to pray with us in Chapel and to take part in our dining room.

This truly is St. Benedict’s invitation to WELCOME ALL AS CHRIST. This call continues to be lived out by our staff today, Mary Ilg, Tod Twist and our dear Chris Fulkerson for Twenty-four years she has poured love into each retreat room as she prepares it for our next guest. Over and over, we hear from our guests, oh it is so beautiful and peaceful here, I need this time for quiet, rest and listening to God.

Now I would like to share a few highlights over the years:

Our dear Father Thomas Keating blessed us many times with his presence, bringing Contemplative Prayer through the teaching of Centering Prayer. Our Minnesota Contemplative Outreach Community continues this journey through the many parish Centering Prayer groups, retreats and using Zoom to bring communities together.

Sister Mary White’s vision of the downtown prayer center at Assumption Parish in St. Paul. Teaching Centering Prayer and other prayer forms. Busy people could drop in rest use the library, have time to be or share with another person.

Patricia Robert’s brought Incarnational Spirituality, Body, Mind and Spirit, through Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer, Tai Ji, teaching Bio-Spiritual Focusing, Honoring our body, Wisdom.

My deep appreciation for Sister Carol Rennie’s and Sam Rahberg’ s vision with the invitation for Sister Meg Funk’s teaching on the early practices of Benedictine Spirituality, in which our School of Lectio Divina and School of Discernment has been taught to many.

In closing I invite you to enjoy our Art Exhibit and the beauty around the Monastery. The Arts and beauty are a deep Charism for Benedictines, and we are happy for all the artists who share their gifts.

It has been my blessing and deep joy to have journeyed with the Benedictine Center over these forty years, living out our hospitality through “WELCOMING ALL AS CHRIST.’’ I am deeply grateful for your presence and for each of you bringing Christ to each of us. Thank you “THAT IN ALL THINGS GOD MAY BE GLORIFIED.”


Good evening.   On behalf of the Benedictine Center Advisory Committee, I’d like to welcome you to our celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Center’s founding.

I came along relatively late in the long history of the Center.  So, I acknowledge the leadership of all past and present Directors, Staff, Advisors and Volunteers who have worked alongside the Sisters to gift our local community with this hidden gem that is the Benedictine Center.

As you know, this year also marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the monastery, and we marked that occasion with a commemorative book called Walking Monastery Way.  For the book, I had the privilege of writing the chapter on the Benedictine Center, and as I researched in the archives on the history of the Center, I was amazed at the courage, trust, and innovation of the Sisters in saying ‘Yes’ to Sister Veronica’s invitation to create a center for Benedictine spiritual outreach in the Twin Cities.  The Sisters recognized and affirmed the hunger for spiritual practice in our wider community and the call to meet that need with a Center to engage those practices.

In trying to answer the question: “What Do People Need to Thrive Spiritually?”, they identified key needs that are still very relevant today.  People need…

  • Times of silence and solitude
  • A community that welcomes all people wherever they are on their spiritual journey and spiritual practices that open them up to hear God’s voice.
  • To cultivate a sense of joy and gratitude
  • Authenticity: to be true and real in one’s relationships with God, with others, and with one’s own spiritual practices
  • To appreciate one’s own humanity and the humanity of others through a heart of compassion and love.
  • Spiritual companions, both one-on-one and in groups, who can listen as we go deeply.

I was also struck by the spirit of innovation that was present at the founding and has continued to guide program development at the Benedictine Center.  From traditional prayer forms like Lectio Divina, to Centering Prayer and Taizé, the Center has continued to innovate in the development of spiritual practices that combine the Benedictine tradition with new ways of expressing that tradition.

This spirit of innovation is what gives me great hope for the future of the Benedictine Center.  It continues today with one of our newest offerings, the CARE Benedictine Wellness program.  Created and developed by Oblate Teri Rose, Benedictine CARE integrates contemplative practices, the Benedictine monastic heritage, and therapeutic lifestyle programming to enable sustainable changes in the lives of participants.   Teri has shared how her vision for Benedictine CARE was inspired by the influence of Sister Virginia’s teachings on the practice of Biospiritual Focusing.   Benedictine CARE is an exciting, entrepreneurial new program that integrates Mind, Body and Spirit in a way to brings healing to the whole person and can be the basis for lasting change in the lives of its participants.

I’d like to thank you all for coming this evening to celebrate the Center’s history, but more importantly, to join with us as we imagine and build a hopeful future that continues in the spirit of courage, trust, and innovation of the Sisters.  As friends of the Benedictine Center, I invite you to invest in this hopeful future, in whatever way you can, to help continue the legacy of Sister Veronica’s dream long into the future.