Monasteries of the Heart

Seekers and Discerners

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This is a space for young adult Catholic women who are searching for paths in life which will enable them to join together their faith, their values, and their actions. We welcome those who may be discerning a vocation to a religious community, determining what kind of career or family structure will be meaningful and soul-enriching, or simply seeking a system of likeminded people to journey with.

Benedictine monastics have always adapted their work to meet whatever needs are pressing. They establish soup kitchens where there are hungry people, take in orphans or open schools where there are children in need, advocate for justice where there is oppression. Today, young Catholic women, especially those whose gifts and voices are overlooked by both the institutional church and the broader culture, are in need of support and relationship as they try to discern how to best be of service to others and be fulfilled personally. We will be a community which finds creative ways to uphold each other in prayer, encourage each other in good works, and walks together through the challenges and opportunities we share.

You may be wondering about the emphasis on monasticism that this site, and to some extent, this group has. Before you panic, we want to assure you that this is not a way to recruit you into becoming a nun! (Unless you already want to do that, in which case, Jacqueline wants to talk to you!)

There are several reasons why we (Breanna and Jacqueline) came away from our respective summer internships with this ministry of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie with the idea of hosting a "monastery" for young female-identifying people on the MoH site. First off, we both found our experiences with the Sisters to be life-changing, life-affirming, and also question-raising. The monastic lifestyle that the members of the community lead allows them, and encourages them, to spend time doing real soul-searching that leads to self-improvement and personal growth, and to also spend time doing difficult, important work for the betterment of others. We both knew a lot of other young women, intelligent, motivated, spiritual people who aren't necessarily sure how to make their gifts and talents align with their values in a world where the Church doesn't do much to support them, and people outside the Church may be dismissive of their faith. We thought that if we were able to journey with these other "seekers and discerners" and help share with them a little of the monastic values that we picked up from our time with the Sisters, it could be really enriching for us all. We found that there's something about monasticism, with its dual emphasis on work and prayer (and its awareness that prayer comes in billions of forms!) that brings together community living, social justice-focused ministry, and faith in a powerful way that many of us can benefit from. That doesn't mean we actually have to become monks or nuns or sisters–– it just means that a forum that has a strong monastic influence might be really helpful for those of us who are just starting out on our journeys.

If this turns out to not be the right venue for one reason or another, we'll collectively try to figure out a better way for us to work together, share our ideas, and support each other. But we do feel that this site offers the advantage of having lots of resources for spirituality-development right on the home page, and it also offers easy access to role models like Sister Joan Chittister, as well as other Benedictine sisters and oblates and their friends, who have acted as mentors to us already. We see this as a kind of home base where we can begin to meet and discuss, and hope that someday we'll be able to meet in person, maybe even on an annual basis, just to add another layer to our journey together. We really believe that the voices that this "monastery" will host are the voices of the Church's future. We can't wait to hear, and join in, the conversation, and we look forward to growing with you.

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