Sr. Mary Elizabeth Schweiger OSB | July 9th, 2023

I want to express my deep gratitude to all who have come to celebrate this occasion with our community. I am grateful to the community for all the work that they have been doing to bring about this beautiful celebration. 

·      Thank you, Abbott James and the monks at the abbey and the diocesan priests with whom I have worked.

·      Thank you, my family and friends who traveled far and near to be here.

·      Thank you to the sisters from other communities,  our oblates, our volunteers and our employees,

·      I would like to thank all in our sponsored ministries of Sophia Center, Keeler’s Women’s Center, Donnelly College, Benedictine College, Maur Hill – Mount Academy. 

·      A special thanks to the Souljourner community, and the many people with whom I have worked through the years in a variety of ways,

·      To our Atchison friends and neighbors.  Thank you for being here.


         Six years ago today, Sister Esther was installed as our prioress. We had the same liturgical readings:  “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.” While those words sound comforting, these past six years were in many ways a burden and a worry. Because of the pandemic, Sister Esther found very little rest during her time in office, but she led us through those difficult times with great compassion and concern for each sister in the community. She did a beautiful job and we are most grateful for her leadership.


         As we proclaimed these Scriptures again today and look ahead at the next six years, I anticipate that I will be weary and burdened. I too will most likely find very little rest. Jesus certainly has a sense of humor. One thing I know for certain, I am not alone. Each sister here draws strength, courage and hope from one another.  We walk our pilgrimage of faith as a community and remember each day the words of St. Benedict: “Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”


         The two symbols of the Scripture and the Rule of Benedict, given to me today, are not meant for me alone. They are meant for all of us. 1500 years ago, the Spirit enabled Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica to plant seeds on how to live a good and holy life. Their world was chaotic and filled with corruption, divisions, wars and hatred. Those seeds that they planted endured throughout all these centuries as committed men and women cultivated these seeds and lived out these Benedictine values. 

         Seven sisters came to Atchison with the dream of continuing to plant seeds of how to live a life of prayer, service and spreading the Gospel. We have 662 sisters in our cemetery, and 89 sisters living today, who have been planting these seeds for 160 years. These seeds have been planted in many areas of our country and they have taken root. Christian values and Benedictine values are alive and well.


          However, just as in Benedict’s time, today’s world is also wounded by fear, divisions, hatred, competition, racism, materialism, wars, and natural disasters. We have our work cut out for us. The challenges before us are as real as they were for Benedict and Scholastica. Like them, we too look to our future with confidence, trusting in God’s faithfulness and seeking always to remain focused on the Gospel as our guide. 


         Those of you here today have in some manner been touched by our community and the seeds we have planted. And so, I invite each of you to join our community in the commitment to continue to do some planting.

         Let us plant the seeds of Benedictine values so that future generations will say of each of us:  “See how they loved one another,” cared for the earth and planet and opened their arms wide to receive everyone as Christ.

        Let us cultivate the seeds of “listening with the ear of your heart” to the cries of the poor, the marginalized, lonely, and homeless and all who are in pain.      Together let us water the seeds of love, hope and respect of others and their differences. Let us pull out the weeds of division, judgmentalism and hatred.

        Let us delight in gathering and spreading the seeds of joy, laughter and a deep faith, as together we run the path of God’s commandments with the inexpressible delight of love.


         Thank you for being here today. Know that our community will keep you in our prayers as we ask you for your continued support and care of us.


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    Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica
    801 South 8th Street
    Atchison, KS 66002
    (913) 360-6200