Good Zeal

Listening: Going Deeper in the Heart of Christ

Our community recently hosted the Benedictine Women’s Novice and Director Institute (NADI) from May 8-18. Two novices from St. Martin’s Priory in Lacey, Washington, and one novice with her director from Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas attended. Sr. Karen Ann Lortscher directed the Institute.

Established in 1988, NADI is structured to offer Novices experiences of the unity and diversity of Benedictine communities. They experience content that explores some essential elements of the monastic life as found in the Rule of Benedict. They have an opportunity to listen with the “ear of the heart” to the Benedictine call to be transformed in Christ. Deepening knowledge of self and some understanding of the experience of the transition into monastic life as well as peer support and feedback regarding their experience of monastic formation are also important benefits of the NADI program.

Directors are encouraged to attend in order to receive the support of their peers in the ministry of journeying with women who are transitioning into monastic life. They also provide support for the novices in their experience of the NADI program.

Sister Karen Ann provided the leadership, but the program benefitted from the generous efforts made by each member of the Sacred Heart community. Presenters included Sisters Magdalena Craig, Mary McGehee, Karen Ann Lortscher, Priscilla Cohen, Edith Bogue, Regina Barrett, Treva Heinberg, Bernadette Sachs, Tonette Sperando, Lynn McKenzie, Thérèse Haydel, Marian Davis, Kathleen Gallas, and Mary Adrian McLean.

The Retreat Center staff, Sisters Janet Marie Flemming, Edith Bogue, and Michelle St. Marie, along with lay staff members, Becky and Cheryl, provided the logistics of hospitality in housing and meeting space.

Sister Mary Adrian provided a beautiful décor for the meeting/prayer space. Sisters Bernadette Sachs and Janet Marie Flemming oversaw the kitchen staff’s efforts to provide for special diets and a scrumptious closing banquet. Sister Veronica Ryan created a fine dining experience for the banquet with her decorations.

You can see from the list above that it took the efforts of many Sisters to host this event, but each and every Sister offered warm and gracious hospitality to our guests, and the NADI participants were most grateful.

Participants experienced first-hand the struggles and joys of Birmingham’s Hispanic population with the assistance of the Missionary Guadalupana Sisters at La Casita and they enjoyed a delicious Mexican lunch provided by a La Casita volunteer.

An afternoon spent at the Sisters’ house on Smith Lake and a day of silent retreat topped off the event.

It was good to have Benedictine women from across the country with us. The goals of the program are focused on the visiting Novices and Directors, but our Community received many graces and blessings from the presence of newer members from other Benedictine Communities. Their energy and joyful spirit brought out the best in each Sister. Reflecting on our common Benedictine way of life renewed us in our own commitment to our Benedictine charism and reminded us of how very much we have to offer to our Church and our world. We are blessed, indeed.

By Sister Karen Ann Lortscher, OSB

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