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Benedictines celebrate trio of jubilees

Benedictines celebrate trio of jubilees - (02-11-2018)

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PHOTO: Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Valerie Stark, OSB (left) was joined by Sister Joan Ridley, OSB (middle) and Sister Patricia Vereb, OSB when the Congregation celebrated their milestone jubilees of monastic profession.

The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration celebrated a trio of jubilees in October with a special mass and a day that welcomed family and friends to celebrate three Sisters who answered their religious calling with fidelity and monastic devotion.

Father Xavier Nacke, OSB of Conception Abbey presided over mass, and Prioress General Sister Dawn Annette Mills OSB shared the gratitude of a congregation to Sister Joan Ridley, OSB, who celebrated her Golden Jubilee of 50 years of monastic profession, and Sisters Valerie Stark, OSB and Patricia Vereb, OSB, who were honored for Silver Jubilees of 25 years each.

Sister Dawn Annette shared a passage from Song of Songs, “‘Set me as a seal on your heart.’ The beloved, the called, the chosen one, is making this request.”

She also counted the blessings of Christ and to those who answered His call.

“Thank you, first of all to God who has given the call. The call into existence which made our jubilarians; the call that has sustained them on their journey to this point,” Sister Dawn Annette added. “Thank you for listening to the call. Thank you for carrying the word and reflecting it in your lives. Thank you for allowing the work of grace to go on through many varied trials and times.”

Sister Joan Ridley

Entered: 1965

First Profession: Aug. 28, 1968

Sister Joan Ridley, OSB, a native of Philadelphia, felt a call to religious life while in high school, and she entered a missionary Dominican community when she was 18 years old.

She earned degrees in social work and law, using them to serve the poor in ministry. In 1996, she embraced the call to contemplative monastic life and made a formal transfer three years later to the Benedictine Sisters.

She says the best advice about following a religious calling is to “keep your eye on the ball.”

“I stay centered on what drew me to this life and to focus on that, especially when I am tempted to be drawn away or upset by peripheral aspects of life,” she said. “‘Stay centered on Christ’ is how the Rule of Benedict says it.”

She has served in a variety of leadership positions within the Benedictine Sisters, including superior of the Tucson monastery, and currently serves on the Congregation’s General Council.

She is also an author. In 2010, she released “In the Presence: The Spirituality of Eucharistic Adoration,” which offers devotional and theological perspectives and suggestions for modern Catholics to connect with adoration in a contemporary way.

When reflecting upon 50 years of religious life, Sister Joan has most appreciated the support Sisters have for each other on their focus on monastic life.

“Our monastic life is well lived, which is itself a mission of the Church and within the world,” she said. “Throughout it all, I have grown from it and am so very grateful for these 50 years.”


Sister Valerie Stark

Entered: 1990

First Profession: Aug. 28, 1993

 It was during her grade school years that Sister Valerie Stark, OSB developed  a love of the Eucharist and a desire to participate in Perpetual Adoration that both still shine brightly today.

“I remember most vividly my mother teaching me catechism,” she said. “I can still see the small blue book with an image of the earth on it.”

So it may come as no surprise that she felt her religious calling as early as the second grade. “My parents were supportive,” she said.

However, as she grew, her difficulties with asthma propelled her family to move from Kansas City to Tucson, Arizona. Considering a religious vocation at that time presented a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, when entering the congregation meant moving back to the Midwest. But it only proved a delay.

“I knew the Benedictine Sisters were for me. The chanting of the divine office, the dedication to the Eucharist and the emphasis on Perpetual Adoration all resonated with me, particularly with the deep memories of childhood,” she said. “I knew then and there, without a doubt, that was where I was called.”

Sister Valerie serves on the General Council and is the treasurer general for the congregation.


Sister Patricia Vereb

Entered: 1990

First Profession: Aug. 28, 1993

After college graduation and two decades working in the private sector, Sister Patricia Vereb, OSB had an experience that reminded her she’d once entertained a religious calling as a child.

She was serving as a Jesuit volunteer, introducing computer skills to elementary students in a Hispanic Houston neighborhood, when she realized it just wasn’t enough.

“Living and learning among the poor was probably more of an education for me rather than for my students,” she said.

She immersed herself more fully into the community, living among the poor, trusting in God and deepening her spiritual life.

That led her to visit the Benedictine Sisters in Clyde, Missouri, but she had no plans on applying to enter.

“My intention was only to learn how they prayed and lived then incorporate what I learned into my own life,” she said. “Well, God knew the intentions of my heart better than I did. I spent a month with them, and the Holy Spirit helped me to make the next step. It definitely wasn’t what I had in mind, but when you ask for God’s help and guidance, he gives it wholeheartedly.”

During her years as a Benedictine Sister, Sister Patricia has worked as portress, in altar bread production and making liturgical vestments. Today, she works in the correspondence department, answering prayer requests.