Did You Know . . . ? | 35 Quick Facts About the Benedictine Center

Did You Know . . . ?

35 quick facts about the Benedictine Center

compiled by Nancy Cicero, Oblate

35. The Vision of the Benedictine Center is to be “a sacred threshold between St. Paul’s Monastery and the wider world.”

34. The Benedictine Center embodies the values of the Monastic Community by:

Extending radical hospitality;
Practicing the art of prayer;
Modeling the formative power of community;
Deepening the habit of study;
Discerning the call to service as disciples of Christ;
Expressing God’s presence in beauty.

33. In 2009, The Benedictine Center moved with the Sisters from the former monastery, downsizing from forty-five single bedrooms and four conference rooms to twelve double bedrooms and two conference rooms.

32. In the tradition defined by the Rule of St. Benedict, the Benedictine Center forms a “School for the Lord’s Service” that guides people through prayer, study, and discernment in developing a contemplative heart open to the message of the Gospel and the discovery of God’s presence at the core of their lives.

photo of S. Veronica Novotny, founding director of the Benedictine Center

S. Veronica

31. The seeds of retreat ministry were planted in 1978 when Sister Veronica Novotny recommended spiritual direction for its benefits to the Sisters of St. Paul’s Monastery and to the wider community.

30. Around 1980, St. Paul’s Monastery established a committee to explore the possibility of a spirituality center; its resulting document read in part, “By 1983, we, the Sisters of St. Paul’s Priory, will formulate a plan to organize ourselves as a center of prayer, worship, and spirituality available and at

tractive to the larger community.”

29. When Sister Veronica Novotny first envisioned the Benedictine Center, she was already contemplating the challenges of the coming century and the vision needed to minister in the year 2000.

28. By 1982 the retreat ministry was being described as simultaneously serving two needs: preparing Sisters for ministry and providing renewal opportunities for the laity.

27. Sister Veronica was recognized by her national colleagues for her work in carrying forward the vision for the Benedictine Center. In 1990, Retreats International awarded her a citation that included, “recognition of your service and dedication to the National Retreat movement . . . You have helped others to create a vision of the future.”

hand-written note excerpted from S. Veronica Novotnys files, Founding Director of the Benedictine Center

26. The Benedictine Center was founded in 1983, bringing Sisters and spiritual seekers together around the Rule of St. Benedict. [could drop it here and direct people to find out more online at www.benedictinecenter.org/35-quick-facts]

25. Throughout its history, the Benedictine Center has continually refined its practice of ministry, cultivating the capacity to read and respond to the needs of the time and to adapt for the sake of the future.

24. Nearly 3,000 guests come visit the Benedictine Center every year.

23. Each year the Benedictine Center offers more than 100 retreats, workshops, and opportunities for prayer.

22. The Benedictine Center is the only retreat center in the Twin Cities that is linked to a living Benedictine community.

21. The Monastic Community envisions its retreat ministry offering a monastic welcome that would provide spiritual nourishment to a frenetic world.

20. The Benedictine Center opened its doors on August 15, 1983, with S. Veronica Novotny as its first director. It was located on the ground level of the former monastery.

19. S. Virginia Matter and S. Mary White were among the Benedictine Center’s first staff members.

18. When the Benedictine Center first opened, it offered hospitality, spiritual direction, psychotherapy, and retreats for individuals and groups.

17. Over the 35-years of new perspectives and fresh ideas, the emphasis on Benedictine spirituality has always remained constant.

16. Long a partner in the Centering Prayer movement, the Benedictine Center has hosted esteemed teachers such as Fr. Thomas Keating.

15. S. Mary White directed the Downtown Meditation Center from 1993 to 2003.

14. The purpose of the Downtown Meditation Center was to provide instruction in Centering Prayer and meditation, and to offer a quiet place in the city for persons to come and pray.

13. The Benedictine Center’s current Vision, Values, and Mission statements were affirmed unanimously in 2012 by the Monastic Community after two years of research and discernment.

12. Eight directors have served the Benedictine Center: S. Veronica Novotny, John Howard, S. Mary White, S. Rose Alice Althoff, Patricia Roberts, S. Carol Rennie, Victor Klimoski, and Sam Rahberg.

11. From 2003-2012 Jackie Witter directed iLLUMINARE, a ministry to ministers, made possible by grant support from the Lilly Endowment.

10. Through the donations of friends of the Benedictine Center, over $4,000 scholarships a year are extended to individuals who seek spiritual support but do not have the financial resources.

9. The School of Lectio Divina was initiated by the Benedictine Center in 2010. Eleven Schools have been hosted under the teaching of Sister Meg Funk OSB and Dr. Kathleen Cahalan.

8. The Benedictine Center’s School of Discernment was launched in 2014. Over the years, over 100 participants have learned discernment of the voice of the Holy Spirit as an ongoing practice and way of life.

7. The Benedictine Center was founded during a time when American Benedictines perceived a hunger for spiritual practice in the midst of a turbulent society and began developing retreat centers to offer the riches of contemplative spirituality.

6. In 2011, an extensive study was completed to seek clarity about the needs of the people the Benedictine Center serves and to guide future decisions.

5. A tool for meditation and reflection, the Monastery’s labyrinth was designed and installed by Lisa Gidlow Moriarty.

4. The annual Juried Exhibit, Seeing God, has featured the work of over 250 artists since its launch in 2012.

3. The Benedictine Center’s Art and Spirituality Team coordinates an average of six exhibits each year.

2. Each year, the Benedictine Center spiritual direction team hosts over 750 sessions of spiritual direction.

1. The Mission of the Benedictine Center is to “share the monastic heritage of St. Paul’s Monastery with all who seek to live with the Gospel as their Guide.”

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