Thoughts from the Prioress on ministries

Thoughts from the Prioress on ministries

Sunday, August 8, was a special day for the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. As part of Morning Praise we had our annual blessing of ministries. The reading, Hebrews 11: 1-2; 8-19, one of the readings for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Ministering is indeed an experience of hope for things unseen. It is about sowing without the promise of being part of the reaping; it is about casting out lines without any assurance that the nets will come back full. Like many of you, all of us have been at this “act of faith” for a long time as we labor on and give freely of our gifts in ministry and service.

In its entirety, chapter 11 of the letter to the Hebrews gives a long listing of people and their stories from the Hebrew Scriptures. All of the examples illustrate how faith worked in the lives of ordinary people who became pivotal characters in the history of the Jewish people. Abraham and Sarah were among the number and I was struck by the realization that out of this one couple a whole new world began with their one and only child.

The “power of one” is a theme often found in many popular inspirational materials. It emphasizes that one person or one idea or one of anything has the power to effect change: one snowflake, one note in a song, one smile, one first step, one hopeful thought ---- and even just one Benedictine in ministry. The power of one of us is very real in the lives of the people of God when we are in their midst. As we listen, as we offer our thoughts, as we react, as we walk with or accompany, as we discuss and share, our influence can be “as the stars in the sky,” wider and brighter than we can ever imagine.

As the contemporary poet David Whyte has written in his poem, Loaves and Fishes: “People are hungry and one good word is bread for a thousand.” I share this with you as I shared it with the sisters and I pray that all of us may truly believe that God is working through us and in us each and every day. The witness we give, the presence we bring, the Benedictine charisms that underlie our every work, our every moment, our every choice, will make God’s presence in our world stronger and more apparent for the one as well as the many.

Check out www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQLj_JcaZcM and you will understand even better that the “power of one” begins with you. May your faith be “an assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.”

Peace to you!

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.