Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Coming Soon...

     Since December I have been working on an Arcadia book about the Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery. Starting in 1993 Arcadia Publishing has produced a series entitled “Images of America” which focus on “general visual histories intended to tell in broad strokes the story of the title community from its earliest days.”
     While looking for pictures that tell the story of St. Walburg Monastery, I’ve come across delightful pictures and stories. One of the stories is about our community’s service in the 1918 flu epidemic. Below are excerpts from the Community record book

Today [Oct. 30] Rev. Regis Barratt [sic] of the U.S. Army at Camp Zachary Taylor called at St. Walburg’s and demanded to have Sisters sent to the Kentucky mountains to nurse the Influenza-sick. I [Mother Walburga] promised to send four sisters.
Oct. 31 Today at 2 pm the four sisters left for Lexington, Ky to report ot Major McMullon at St. Joseph’s Hospital from when they will get their orers to go to whatever district is pointed out to them. The Sisters were Sr. Alphonsa Spatz, Sister DeSales Fox, Sr. Armella Klein, Sr. Bernadette Klinker…
Nov. 1 Rev. Father Regis came back for four more Sisters. We sent:
            Srs. Edith Hoffmann, Loretta Fox, Sophia Saelinger, Eleanor Falangan [then a postulant].
Nov. 11 Peace was officially proclaimed and we hope the terrible World war will now be ended
Nov. 16 At 12:0 am the first four Sisters who had been sent to nurse the “Flue-sick” returned and at 7 pm the other four Sisters came back by order of the proper authorities. All were well except Sr. Alphonsa who had the “Flue”
Nov. 16 As the schools were closed again by the Health Officers on account of the Influenza epidemic, our Sisters were called out to nurse the sick in the city [Covington] until Dec. 6 when the schools were re-opened.

      None of the sisters at that time had nursing experience or training, but from that point on, Eleanor Flanagan, who became Sr. Callista Flanagan, wanted to serve as a nurse in the Kentucky mountains. In the 1940’s when the community was asked to establish a hospital in Hazard, Kentucky, Sr. Callista finally got her wish.
     For pictures of Sr. Callista and Sr. Alphonsa and other pictures of our community’s history, look for the book entitled The Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery which will come out from Arcadia Publishing in September or October.
Sr. Deborah Harmeling, OSB

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Easter Journal, 2012

Love one another as I have loved you.
You did not choose me; I chose you.
Abide in my love.

            I try.
            I believe.
            I do.
            I’ve found it in this monastery.
                       Sr. Mary Catherine Wenstrup, OSB

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Making Space

             As spring unfolds I find a growing desire to make space.   Sometimes it is literally making space as I spring clean at home or settle into my recently moved office at work.  Daily I make space in my schedule for prayer, appointments, walking, or time with friends.  More recently the invitation to make space is in my own attitudes and perspectives.  
            In the shifting of my internal attitudes and perspectives I become keenly aware of the challenge of being stretched in my understanding to create space for a wider perspective.  In this space, I come to see possibility where the view was once limited.  In this space, compassion is fostered towards others and self as we mutually work with our respective attitudes and perspectives.  In this space, moments are graced with God’s presence and the movement of the Spirit. 
            Perhaps this is the beauty of spring… for how can I doubt the possibility of change and growth as spring’s beauty leads to summer and supports both my external and internal work to create more space for God’s work in my own life.
            Sr. Kimberly Porter, OSB

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Power and Pitfalls of Non-verbal Communication

     The other day as we began morning prayer, I made the sign of the cross and was suddenly struck with the power of this silent act. What hit me wasn’t the meaning, but rather how much an unadorned action can say:
* I believe in Christ’s saving act
            * I believe in and live Christianity
            * I acknowledge how much God loves me
            * I am committed at this moment to both
                      personal and communal prayer … 
     I could go on, but you get the idea. An intriguing development, though, was that this flash of insight later took me further afield. My background in communication kicked in, and I thought about other forms of non-verbal communication. These often silent actions also have multiple meanings but are much more easily misunderstood. 
     Here are some examples of wordless communication and a few multiple meanings:
*Silence in a conversation – Agreement… Disapproval
            … Questioning .... No comment …
*A shrug – Don’t know …Don’t care… Doesn’t  
           matter … Who knows …
*A smile – Gladness … Embarrassment… Self-   
           consciousness .... Nervousness ….
*A frown – Puzzlement … Sadness … Disagreement…
           Aching joints or an upset stomach ... 
     Interpreting silence, facial expressions, or voice intonations can lead to greater empathy in listening to someone’s story. On the other hand, it can be a tricky business. I think all of us need to be a little less certain of what we think we are hearing in a conversation; we need to check it out. This is especially true when people are strangers or there is a history of friction. 
     As with church rituals, the non-verbal fleshes out human interaction with much richness. Ritual actions in worship, however, can fall prey to becoming repetitive, even mindless. The non-verbal elements of our interpersonal interactions can lead us into traps of their own, such as a false sense of certainty about others. 
     Both these forms of silent communication need attention now and then. This Easter season may be a good time to refresh the nuances of both good worship and good  listening.
      Sr. Colleen Winston, OSB