Benedictine sisters celebrate centenary
By Joan E. Mormul, OSB
WINNIPEG — Close to 700 people — clergy, family members, friends and honoured guests — gathered at St. Benedict’s Monastery grounds on Aug. 19, the actual day of incorporation in the city of Winnipeg 100 years ago, to celebrate with the Sisters their 100 years of ministry in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg.
Archbishop James Weisgerber was presider and homilist at the eucharist for this occasion, along with many concelebrating priests of the archdiocese as well as the sisters’ Benedictine brother, Abbot Peter Novecosky from Muenster, Sask. All present, shaded under a huge tent, enjoyed the perfect weather on this day.
Sister Virginia Evard, prioress, welcomed all present. Former prioress, Sister Irene Burzynski, told the story of those four courageous women of vision, daughters of faith, who began this journey with a total capital of 27 cents.
Greetings were brought by Archbishop Albert LeGatt, represented by Rev. Carl Tarnopolski, vicar-general of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface, which at the time of the sisters’ incorporation in 1912 extended to the West Coast of Canada. Sister Lois Eckes, OSB, prioress of their “mother” monastery of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn. as well as Sister Joella Kidwell, OSB, president of the Federation of St. Gertrude of which the sisters in Winnipeg are members, offered their prayerful congratulations.
Others from the larger civic community included the Hon. Greg Selinger, represented by Ted Marcelino, MLA for Tyndall Park, the Hon. Joy Smith, MP for Kildonan-West St. Paul, Ron Schluer, MLA for West St. Paul and Mayor Bruce Henley, mayor of the municipality of West St. Paul in which St. Benedict’s Monastery and Retreat & Conference Centre are located.
All were invited to a meal served by the food service staff under Chef Andrew Ballentyne.
The sisters have published a commemorative book, Women of Vision, Daughters of Faith for the 100th anniversary of their foundation in the province of Manitoba. It describes their way of life, includes photos of each living and deceased member of the community and a brief history, which may be purchased through St. Benedict’s Monastery.
In collaboration with Wittmann Foods International located at the Forks Market, the Sisters of St. Benedict launched their own brand of honey produced on their monastery grounds.
It was with much joy, gratitude and sharing of memories that this event propelled the Benedictine Sisters on to the future.