Blessing of Ministries

Blessing of Ministries

One of the most poignant experiences I have as prioress is that of reading the annual Blessing of Ministry papers that you will soon present.

The commitment paper is really divided into two parts: The upper half consists of a quotation on ministry taken from the newly revised Call to Life. In it we read that to the monastic, “ministry is an extension of worship.” It also points out that, although Benedict specified no particular ministry for his monastics, manual labor, intellectual pursuits and pastoral work all contribute to and sustain the community and its life. This paragraph from Call to Life also reminds us of the priority of our concern for hospitality and for the works of justice.

Following this opening we list our ministries for the year: varied and assorted as they are.

On the lower half of our Blessing of Ministry paper is printed our Corporate Commitment‒the deeply held commitments that we, as the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, have proclaimed as significant concerns for us. Matters out of which we often weigh options, debate choices and make decisions.

Additionally this year during these LLL days, we saw table and wall displays of many of our sisters’ ministries in the Chapter 57 hallway. All week it was impossible to walk down that hall without stopping every time to look at something that we might have missed. What wonderful visuals they are of the commitments, dedication and devotion that our sisters have to their work‒be they in or out of Erie, at the monastery, with three or four other Sisters or with one sister providing this ministry in our name. Didn’t you feel proud as you looked through the photos, charts and items on display? Many sisters have come to me to exclaim about how much they are learning about our ministries through this exhibit and through the written reports which we received in our folders.

All of this was on my mind when I read over the reading from the Gospel of Luke that we just heard. In a number of the Bibles that I consulted I found that the short first paragraph of the reading was often paired with the verses that come before it rather than the verses that follow it as in this Sunday’s reading.

The general theme of the parable that precedes it is: “Do not worry.” It is the one warning against storing up goods in barns, the often-quoted reference to the lilies of the fields and the encouraging promise of God’s care for everything.

Our reading began with the paragraph that follows, it starts with “Do not be afraid”‒a bit more serious than, “Do not worry.” But the line that caught me‒‒ again—as it has since I was young in religious life was: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I suspect it has spoken often to many of you, as well.

In the seventh and final book of the Harry Potter series, the most popular book series of all-time, Harry visits the tomb and family plot of the most powerful of all wizards and his longtime mentor, Professor Dumbledore. On that tomb he finds this saying: “Where your treasure is, your heart will be also.”

The young boy wizard is not sure he understands it, but we, the adult readers, surely do and we know that when he does, the message there will bring to his own life and calling the peace and comfort that it has to ours.

At this time I found myself asking, and trying to answer, these questions which I pose to you for your reflection at this Blessing of Ministry ceremony:

  • What is my treasure?
  • Where is my treasure?
  • Does God’s promise of care for me and for every part of creation bring me inner peace?

The answers might well form the ground on which I place my trust, security of purpose and confidence of being.

They may help form the underpinnings of my ministries and the face of God which I bring to them.

Thank you, Sisters, for all your good works and the Benedictine charism that you bring to the people of God through them.

Sister Anne Wambach, OSB, the twenty-first prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania is a native of Philadelphia. She moved to Mount St. Benedict Monastery in 1992 to respond to a desire to experience the monastic way of life. Previously a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Chestnut Hill, Sister Anne began the formal transfer process to the Erie Benedictines in 1993 and made her monastic profession in 1997.

Sister Anne has served the people of the Diocese of Erie as a teacher at St. Gregory's School in North East, Pa., from 1992-1995, and at the Neighborhood Art House in Erie, beginning as program director in 1995 and as executive director since 2005. She served on the Monastic Council from 2006-2010.