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Building community grounded in oneness through hospitality

Between August and November, sisters from Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mankato, Minnesota, moved into the Benedictine Living Community in Shakopee, Minnesota. Every week, groups of eight or more sisters moved over four-day periods. For instance, Sisters Bernadette Welter and Mary Jo Welter moved into the new community October 3, while Sisters Anita Kolles and Sue Von Bank moved October 25. For both groups of sisters, the move has been both a blessing and an adjustment, including learning to navigate Benedictine Living Community and the larger community that is Shakopee.

Sister Anita Kolles in her new home

In the weeks leading up to the move, many of the sisters at Our Lady of Good Counsel made a concerted effort to downsize and eliminate items that were no longer needed. They knew that space within their apartments may be somewhat limited compared to what they were used to at Our Lady of Good Counsel. Holiday decorations may be few or many, but the deeper meaning of Christmas will prevail. New traditions will begin. This year’s holiday will be about building a community grounded in oneness through hospitality.

Benedictine is a Catholic, faith-based organization entrusted with advancing the life-enhancing senior care ministry of the Benedictine Sisters of Duluth, Minnesota. They witness to God’s love by creating inclusive communities, supporting those they serve to live well and with purpose, with special concern for the underserved. The Benedictine Core Values are grounded in hospitality, stewardship, respect, peace and justice.

Benedictine Principles Door Hanging

The School Sisters of Notre Dame's mission is to proclaim the good news, directing their entire lives toward that oneness for which Jesus Christ was sent. As Jesus was sent to show God’s love to the world, sisters are sent to make Christ, visible by their very being, by sharing their love, faith and hope. According to Sister Bernadette, “building a tradition of community grounded in oneness through hospitality is like two gifts coming together, the SSND gift of oneness and the Benedictine gift of hospitality.”

Sisters Sue and Anita enjoy going to the dining room for meals and asking to sit with other non-SSND community members of the Benedictine Living Community. By sharing a meal, they can speak with those they may not run into daily or have not officially met. Sometimes, they find out their meal partner has never experienced an interaction with a Catholic sister. “It’s a chance for us to make a concerted effort to really be open, present and to listen to our fellow community members,” said Sister Anita Kolles. "It's a chance to build connections," said Sister Sue Von Bank.

When it comes to building connections, Sister Bernadette recalled Sister Mary Jo sharing that she and a gentleman enjoyed visiting together outside on a warm afternoon. During the conversation, they discovered that they had both been high school teachers of math and science. In addition, their relatives came from the same part of Germany. “That’s how community is built when it’s grounded in oneness. It’s about finding common ground and building those relationships. Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen a few sisters flourish in a way that I hadn’t noticed at Our Lady of Good Counsel. I believe that is because the coming together of the two gifts, oneness and hospitality, has allowed them to blossom and thrive in a different way,” said Sister Bernadette Welter. "It truly has been a gift for us and will be a gift for the larger community."

Want to read more about SSND approach to community, download our 2022 Newsletter, Volume 2.


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