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Closing Mass held for San Benito Monastery

Closing Mass held for San Benito Monastery - (21-10-2014)

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PHOTO: Diocese of Cheyenne Bishop Paul D. Etienne (center) joins (from left) Sister Josetta Grant, OSB, Sister Hope Rodenborn, OSB, Sister Gladys Noreen, OSB and Sister Regina Arnold, OSB during a Mass of Thanksgiving and Farewell hosted by the Holy Name Catholic Church on Oct. 18.

(DAYTON, Wyo.)The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration were honored for 31 years of ministry in Wyoming on Saturday, Oct. 18, during a Mass of Thanksgiving and Farewell hosted by Holy Name Catholic Church in Sheridan.

“The attendance was huge,” Prioress General Sister Dawn Annette Mills, OSB said. “The people of Wyoming were so beautiful to us. They were most grateful for our Sisters’ presence and for all our ministries throughout the years. There was also a sense of loss but an understanding of the decision we made to say goodbye.”

Diocese of Cheyenne Bishop Paul D. Etienne’s homily reflected upon the Benedictine Sisters’ devotion of placing Christ above all else in their lives. 

“Our Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are not unlike the women at the empty tomb who were astonished, even frightened at what they discovered,” he said. “Our sisters come face to face first with the Lord, in their devotion to the Eucharist, so they can then bear this light of the Risen Christ to us, while at the same time recognize Christ in each of our faces and person.”

Special guests at the Mass were visiting members of the BSPA congregation and the four residents of the San Benito community: Superior Sister Gladys Noreen, OSB, Sister Josetta Grant, OSB, Sister Hope Rodenborn, OSB and Sister Regina Arnold, OSB.

Five members of the Benedictine Sisters arrived in Wyoming in 1983 to establish a new community after an invitation by then-Bishop Joseph Hart. The Sisters lived in Casper for two years before moving to Big Horn. In 1989 they purchased land in Dayton and opened San Benito Monastery.

After the community’s 25th anniversary celebration, Sister Josetta said, “We have a beautiful environment here for our simple lifestyle, living at the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. It is an ideal place for a contemplative community and to host retreats.”

Throughout the years, the San Benito Sisters hosted confirmation classes, meetings for groups like the Council of Catholic Women, retreats for oblates, guests and individuals, and courses on the Scriptures. They created a variety of quality, handcrafted items for their gift shop, Monastery Creations, and participated in shopping bazaars and the annual Art Loop. They hosted Easter celebrations, Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas gatherings for friends. Last spring they opened their chapel for a wedding ceremony between two community friends.

“We are grateful for the many lives you have touched and drawn closer to Christ, through your monastic profession, your example of life, your teaching, spiritual direction; in short, through your modest and humble presence in our midst,” Bishop Etienne said during the Mass.

The Sisters have been rewarded in kind by a large network of supporters and volunteers who have served countless hours to ensure the monastery remained a beautiful and peaceful place to serve the world.

“We are deeply grateful for the love and support we received from our parish community throughout the years,” Sister Gladys said. “The Knights of Columbus, their families and other valued friends and supporters will forever remain in our hearts as we continue our journey elsewhere.”

The San Benito Sisters will relocate to one of the Benedictine Sisters’ monasteries in Tucson, Arizona, or Clyde, Missouri, to continue their ministry to the Church. 

“It is hard to say goodbye. There is a part of this place in all of our hearts, and a part of the congregation’s heart will forever be in Wyoming,” Sister Dawn Annette said. “But isn’t that part of what our vow of stability is about? Our hearts take root in a given place. Sometimes we have to pull up those roots and transplant our hearts to different soil, but something of us always remains where we once planted and where we grew. They remind us that the God who abides with us, abides always in places where we have borne fruit that lasts.”

To read Bishop Etienne’s homily, please visit his blog at the Diocese of Wyoming website.