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Benedictine Sister proud of Congregation's labor of love

Benedictine Sister proud of Congregation's labor of love - (03-11-2014)

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Photo: Sister Lynn Marie D'Souza, OSB has been appointed manager of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration's altar bread department, which has been making communion hosts for over a century.

Some might say it’s a match made in heaven.

Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Lynn Marie D’Souza, OSB, possesses a deep love for the Eucharist as well as an admiration for her religious community’s production of altar breads. So it comes as no surprise she is delighted with her recent appointment as manager of the congregation’s altar bread department.

“Monastic life is a great adventure, and I love that our life is structured around prayer and that all our works help us become closer to God,” she said. “I love the connection that these humble breads made by our hands will become the Body of Christ, the food for the Church."

Sister Lynn Marie, who holds a degree in biomedical sciences from Texas A&M University, has already been an integral part of the altar bread department. She was part of the team that created the recipe for the Vatican-approved low-gluten hosts for those with allergies or Celiac’s Disease, a digestive condition that makes it difficult for the body to process wheat products. She also served as the department’s business manager from 2002 to 2008.

With a staff of eight sisters and 15 lay employees, the department produces about 9 million wafers every month. It is by far the sisters’ main source of income and supports their contemplative life.

“I love the sheer physicality of it in the sense that at the end of the day we can count how many bags we produced and how many orders we shipped,” she said, delighting in her love of crunching the numbers.

Sister Lynn Marie will also be tasked with evaluating production. The sisters are the largest religious producers of altar breads in the country, and she hopes that by studying the processes involved she can determine what recommendations should be made to continue the quality of work customers have come to rely on.

In the meantime, she is happy to be back “at the belt,” making observations and getting reacquainted with employees during the production process.

“They are the best!” she said with a smile. “Some have been working here for more than 30 years. That is dedication and loyalty. They care just as much as the sisters do that the breads are of the highest quality and understand our breads are a labor of love from all the hands that touch them.”

The department is in the midst of a busy production time. The sisters experience an annual increase in business from November through April, gearing up for the Christmas, Lenten and Easter celebrations.

“I pray for those who receive the breads and for the parishes that support our life of prayer,” Sister Lynn Marie said. “I trust that with the prayers and support of my sisters, the grace will be there for this task.”

Sister Lynn Marie began her new duties in September, taking over from Sister Rita Clair Dohn, OSB who is currently serving as the Clyde community's prioress.

For more information about the Benedictine Sisters' altar bread ministry, please visit them online.