Benedictine Spirituality Workshop and Retreat Experience

Sister Kathy McCarthy shares Benedictine Spirituality Workshop and Retreat Experience

“Monastic profession is more than a commitment to community,” explained Sister Kathy McCarthy as she shared her recent experience at BSWR—Benedictine Spirituality Workshop and Retreat. “It is about being available to the world in a different way, through our community relationships to be attuned to God and to be a positive presence in the world.”

Sister Kathy was at St. Benedict Monastery in Bristow, VA, from July 7-28 for the workshop and retreat designed for temporary professed Benedictine sisters anticipating perpetual monastic profession. This year’s theme was “Expanding Hearts: The Way of Profession.” After her return, Sister Kathy shared her experience with her sisters in Erie at an informal gathering, offering pictures and memories of her time shared with the seven other participants from Benedictine women’s monasteries around the country. The women are all Benedictine scholastics, those who have made first profession, an initial commitment, to their communities but have yet to make their final, perpetual profession.

The workshop portion of the experience, a time of intense discernment prior to requesting perpetual monastic profession, Sister Kathy explained, included tours of the local monastery and its works, prayer, sharing of stories, and study. Session topics included Benedictine charism, lectio divina, relationships in community, reverence for creation, hospitality, peace and justice, celibacy and sexuality, obedience, discernment and leadership, humility, monastic prayer, and more.

“After our session on lectio divina, I was fascinated with the different types of lectio (the slow, meditative reading of scripture),” Sister Kathy shared. “The divine presence is everywhere which we experienced in different kinds of lectio divina.” She mentioned eco divina, music divina, visio divina—and, new to Sister Kathy, “spot divina.” She explained, “Spot divina is seeing God in what happens unexpectedly, on the spot. Something stops me and reveals God in the moment.”

Another activity which Sister Kathy shared was “soul collage.” She showed several collages she created with images and artwork that had particular meaning for her.

The BSWR experience, which is sponsored by the North American Benedictine Vocation Formation Conference, ends with a silent, directed retreat. This year the director of BSWR was Sister Andrea Westkamp, OSB, of St. Benedict in Bristow and her co-director was Sister Marcia Ziska, OSB, of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, KS.

With the perpetual profession of monastic vows the scholastic is welcomed into full membership in the community. She commits herself to a lifetime of conversion through the monastic way of life. To learn more about the process of becoming a Benedictine monastic, click here or email