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Benedictines hold Rite of Installation

Benedictines hold Rite of Installation - (01-07-2014)

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Photo: The new general council shared a smile at the conclusion of the Rite of Installation. They will serve the Congregation for six years. From left: Prioress General Sister Dawn Annette Mills, General Councilor Sister Ruth Elaine Starman, General Councilor Sister Valerie Stark and General Councilor Sister Joan Ridley.

On a late morning in June, as thunder roared and the skies poured, all was peaceful inside the Adoration Chapel in Clyde, Missouri, during the Rite of Installation for the new general council.

The new council includes Prioress General Sister Dawn Annette Mills, OSB and Sister Ruth Elaine Starman, OSB, Sister Joan Ridley, OSB and Sister Valerie Stark, OSB as general councilors. Retired Archbishop Jerome Hanus, OSB of Conception Abbey was presider.

Sisters entered the chapel to the sound of ringing bells and quietly took their seats. Proceedings began with the certification of election results, which were presented by Sister Susan Hutchens, OSB, president of the Federation of St. Benedict and a member of St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, Illinois.

Archbishop Jerome likened the duties of the prioress general to that of Jesus’s role as a good shepherd to his flock. 

“Shepherd-servant leadership is not an impersonal administration of a business,” he said. “It is the personal leading of the members of a flock into a deeper relationship with God.” 

He stressed how St. Benedict explained that leadership was akin to a shepherd caring for his sheep.

“Any organization needs a leader, somebody to make the final decisions, a president or a CEO to take charge,” he said. “But the Congregation is more than just a human enterprise. It is a Christian community with an end that transcends this world. Its procedures and policies must be more than just efficient and reasonable. They must open lives to transcendent values and spiritual realities.” He continued, “That can happen only if you as members of this community approach life with that religious sense we call faith. I challenge you to this faith, to such a deep trust in God that you will recognize Christ in the person and actions of Sister Dawn Annette. Trust that God is forming her into the likeness of the Good Shepherd.”

During the installation, Archbishop Jerome asked Sister Dawn Annette if she was willing to undertake the responsibilities and duties of the office of prioress general.

She responded to the congregation, “My Sisters, what you are asking of me is possible since together we rely on the power of God’s creative love present within and among us in our world. Trusting in the never failing presence of that creative love, I will serve you to the best of my ability.”

The general councilors then pledged their fidelity to Sister Dawn Annette and to the congregation and were installed into their offices.

Then Archbishop Jerome, with his hands raised above their heads, said, “Sisters Dawn, Ruth Elaine, Valerie and Joan, may you be blessed with a faith that never falters. May God enrich you with gifts of faith, hope and love so that what you do in this life may bring you to the happiness of everlasting life.”

Sister Dawn Annette and her councilors will serve the Congregation for the next six years.