About Us

Sharing the Wisdom of Benedictine Spirituality

THE SISTERS OF ST. PAUL’S MONASTERY REMAIN CONVINCED that Benedictine spirituality can be a resource to today’s women and men as they strive to live faithfully in the world.

Our Story

The retreat ministry the Sisters have nurtured for more than 35 years has matured as a setting that blends peace and quiet, silence and conversation, personal study and shared programming. The Benedictine Center remains true to the Sisters' intention to share the monastic heritage of St. Paul’s Monastery with others.

A Vision For Benedictine Retreat Ministry

Since its founding in 1983, the Benedictine Center has carried forward the values envisioned by its founder, S. Veronica Novotny OSB: reverence for God, reverence for creation, hospitality toward all, beauty and simplicity, silence and prayer.

S. Veronica believed these values create a setting for those who seek to gain a deeper awareness of God, a greater understanding of self, and a special love for one another and the unity of all persons. The Benedictine Center continues to carry on the legacy of hospitality to which S. Veronica was committed.

Why Choose the Benedictine Center?


Time-tested wisdom of Benedictine spirituality

In some way, every event, conversation, and service helps people live out Benedictine values.


Intimacy of a living community

Solitude is enriched by the support and encouragement of the Sisters and others who pray with you.


Stirring beauty in art and architecture

Artists lift our spirits and renew our attention to God's presence.


From scratch cooking

Talented chefs find joy in creating wholesome and delicious meals, often made from local foods.


Talented staff ready to help you

Each member of the staff attends to their own spiritual journey and finds joy in assisting others along the way.

St. Paul’s Monastery Connection


The Benedictine Center is unique in welcoming guests into an environment shared by a living monastic community. The spirit of daily prayer and the artistic beauty of the place contribute to an environment well-suited for reflection and renewal. This connection is not incidental—it is the lifeblood of the Benedictine Center and the inspiration for every service it provides. Learn more about the Sisters of St. Benedict of St. Paul’s Monastery…



Benedictine Center Staff

The ministry of the Benedictine Center is made possible by a core staff who work in cooperation with others at St. Paul’s Monastery, a team of spiritual directors, a cadre of talented adjunct presenters, as well as other faithful volunteers and partners. Click on the staff names below to view their full bios.


Mary Elizabeth Ilg
Co-Director | Office Manager

Mary has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota.  In 2021, she became an Oblate of St. Paul's Monastery and also joined the Benedictine Center staff.

Contact | 651-777-7251, ext 149

Tod Twist
Co-Director | Spiritual Director

In addition to being on the Spiritual Direction team at the Benedictine Center, Tod Twist also serves as Co-Director of the Benedictine Center, managing the administration of spiritual direction.  Tod trained as a Spiritual Director through the program at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, WI.

Contact | 651-777-7251, ext 148

Jeff Dols

Jeff Dols is Chair of the Benedictine Center Advisory Committee and former Director of the Benedictine Center of St. Paul’s Monastery. He has a long history with the Benedictine tradition, going back to his childhood in St. Joseph, MN, where he was educated by the Sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery.

Contact | 651-777-7251

Chris Folkenson
Guest Services

Chris Folkenson works behind the scenes with guest services, ensuring every guest arrives to a clean and comfortable room.  Chris has served in this role at St. Paul’s Monastery for over 20 years, and brings a special reverence to her work and a longstanding friendship with the Sisters.

Contact | 651-777-7251

Sister Virginia Matter, OSB
Spiritual Director

Virginia Matter, OSB, is a member of St. Paul’s Monastery and came to the Center from the health care field. She worked in nursing and in pastoral ministry. Virginia has done significant preparation in the areas of spirituality, Centering Prayer, Bio-Spiritual Focusing, retreats, and Spiritual Direction. She also has experience in pottery and Native American creative arts.

Contact |virginia@stpaulsmonastery.org


Available for:

  • One-on-one spiritual direction
  • Bio-spiritual focusing
  • Pottery instruction
  • Questions about Centering Prayer




“When I see all these people sharing their souls, I can’t help but wonder what mine has to say.”

Anonymous Patron

“Returning for the juried show each year helps me stay at my practice all year long.”

Anonymous Artist

“It’s so peaceful here. Even my body feels it when I walk through the door.”


“Wow. What can I say? I cannot thank you enough for the way that you helped me. This was a wonderful experience—one of a lifetime.”


“I am moved every time I walk in these doors and encounter a new exhibit.”


“I am an artist who just moved to town. I have found my people.”


“We found the spiritual atmosphere, architecture and interaction with the community of St. Paul's Monastery as asset to our work . . . the Benedictine Center keeps our focus on the spiritual dimension of life as it unfolds.”

Dr. Mel Kimble

“As a staff we were amazed at the quality of our experience together.”

Fr. Chuck Brambilla

“God has breathed empowering courage into my life and ministry through times of silence in this beautiful center.”

Pastor Ruth Conrad

“The Benedictine Center made our retreat with college students nothing less than spectacular. What we encountered was a true sense of Benedictine hospitality and prayerfulness.”

Aaron Miller, Campus Minister

“I can’t believe I slept for twelve hours straight. It must have been what my body needed.”


"Our time was peaceful and beautiful and blessed."


“I’ve been in spiritual direction for a long time. I wouldn't be without it.”


“My spiritual director helps me be me. I appreciate the way she encourages me as I sort through my relationship with God.”


“Sometimes I come and have no idea what I’m going to talk about. I am amazed to see what surfaces every time.”


“I’m not sure exactly why, but it just seemed like it was time to go on retreat.”


“I have had just the right balance of solitude and community. What a blessing to be able to be apart without feeling alone on my journey.”


"Thank you for the retreat. It was refreshing, renewing, restful, and helpful."


"The Center has been an immense contributor to my spiritual development . . . and I am on the path Home.”


"My first time at the Benedictine Center was a most wonderful experience! It was a time of quiet, solitude, and peace. I am coming back!"