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?

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.

WHY CHOOSE THE BENEDICTINE CENTER?

Intimacy of a living community

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

WHY CHOOSE THE BENEDICTINE CENTER?

Stirring beauty in art and architecture

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

WHY CHOOSE THE BENEDICTINE CENTER?

From scratch cooking

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

WHY CHOOSE THE BENEDICTINE CENTER?

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.

Staff and spiritual directors

Benedictine Staff and Spiritual Directors

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 and spiritual director names below to view their full bios.
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Jeff Dols

Jeff Dols is the 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 St. Benedicts Monastery.  Jeff is an Oblate of the monastery and has previously served in several advisory roles, including the Benedictine Center, Oblate and Mission Advancement Advisory Committees.  Professionally, Jeff has experience in both the for profit and nonprofit sector, having held leadership roles in multiple strategic planning and organizational development efforts over the past 20+ years, for companies such as…

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S. Virginia Matter OSB

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 area of spirituality, Centering Prayer, Bio-Spiritual Focusing, retreats, and Spiritual Direction. She also has experience in pottery and Native American creative arts. Email: vmatter@benedictinecenter.org Available for: One-on-one spiritual direction Bio-spiritual focusing Pottery instruction Questions about Centering Prayer Read All Posts by Sr. Virginia Matter

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Chris Folkenson

Chris Folkenson works behind the scenes with guest services, ensuring every guest arrives to a comfortable room.

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Tod Twist

In addition to being on the Spiritual Direction team at the Benedictine Center, Tod Twist also serves as a Guest Services Assistant, preparing the space for guests. Tod trained as a Spiritual Director through the program at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, WI. Prior to that, he spent some time as a freelance writer as well as a workshop guy (with leatherworking and woodworking) while being a stay-at-home dad. He studied Hebrew and Semitics at UW–Madison, and also biblical studies at Bethel Seminary in the Twin Cities. While he values formal study programs, Tod has found new joy…

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S. Carol Rennie OSB

S. Carol Rennie OSB is former prioress of St. Paul’s Monastery who served for many years as a spiritual director and an anchor for Benedictine Center hospitality. Although retired, she continues to encourage the Benedictine Center staff in the mission she supported so faithfully.

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S. Benita Gerold OSB

Benita Gerold OSB is a member of St. Paul’s Monastery and has an associates degree in Applied Science from the Univ. of Crookston.  Prior to her employment at the Center as hospitality minister, S. Benita served as Director of Food Center at St. Paul’s Monastery and at St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Center.

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S. Sharon Schiller OSB

Sharon Schiller OSB is a member of St. Paul’s Monastery and has been a teacher in child care centers and also a secretary. She is now part of the hospitality team of the Benedictine Center.

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S. Virginia Matter OSB

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 area of spirituality, Centering Prayer, Bio-Spiritual Focusing, retreats, and Spiritual Direction. She also has experience in pottery and Native American creative arts. Email: vmatter@benedictinecenter.org Available for: One-on-one spiritual direction Bio-spiritual focusing Pottery instruction Questions about Centering Prayer Read All Posts by Sr. Virginia Matter

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Mary Martin

Mary Martin received her training as a spiritual director at the Franciscan Spirituality Center (La Crosse, WI). She is a retired hospital chaplain who holds graduate degrees in theology, counseling psychology, and library science and has been in direction herself for over thirty-five years. She and her husband live in south Minneapolis and enjoy traveling (often to Ireland), and being in the outdoors kayaking, biking, or walking their dog. Mary writes, I have often described my own experience of spiritual direction as being an “incredible luxury and a radical necessity.” It’s a luxury in the sense of having the time…

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Peter Watkins

Peter Watkins is a spiritual director and retreat leader at the Benedictine Center. He holds a Master’s of Divinity degree from the University of St. Thomas/School of Divinity and supervises spiritual directors in training at Sacred Ground Center for Spirituality. In addition to regular spiritual direction, Peter is also trained in giving the Ignatian spiritual exercises. Peter has been a high school theology teacher at Cretin-Derham Hall high school in St. Paul since 1993, where he especially loves leading student justice trips to Guatemala and pilgrimages on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. He has taught adult classes in Old Testament…

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Sheryl Rose

Sheryl has been in parish ministry for over 25 years.  She started her relationship with the Benedictine Center ten years ago when she had the privilege of being enrolled in the iLLUMINARE program for professional lay ministers in the Catholic Church.  Sheryl holds an MA in Organizational Leadership and Spirituality from St. Catherine University, was certified as a Labyrinth Facilitator at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and was trained at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse as a Spiritual Director. In addition to the Benedictine Center, Sheryl is available to see people in her Richfield home. For her own…

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Steve Arnold

Steven (Steve) F. Arnold is a Deacon within the Lutheran confessional movement of the Church catholic. Steve is certified as a Director of Christian Education and as a Lutheran Teacher and has served the Church through parish ministry, teaching at a Lutheran high school, and serving on the faculty of a Lutheran university where he taught parish leadership and lifespan faith formation. Steve currently serves as a Chaplain at Crest View Senior Communities. Steve is a Spiritual Director, in the Christian tradition, and is a member of Spiritual Directors International. Steve continues in ongoing personal formation as a spiritual director. Steve’s formation…

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Kami Pohl

Kami Pohl received her training as a spiritual director from the Franciscan Spirituality Center (La Crosse, WI) and currently serves as the Director of Community Engagement at Messiah Church in Plymouth.  Kami has experience in classroom teaching, being a full-time Mom, organizational development and training, and she holds a master’s degree in human resource development from the University of Minnesota. She and her husband live in Plymouth and enjoy time with family, friends, taking long walks, listening to live music and reading. Kami writes: My own experience with spiritual direction began in the fall of 2012.  Due to some health…

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Rev. Kathie Nycklemoe

Kathie Nycklemoe has served in public ministry since 1989, and as a pastor since 1995. Her training in contemplative practices began at the Shalem Institute (Baltimore, MD) under the direction of Tilden Edwards and Gerald May, and she received her training to be a spiritual director from the Franciscan Spirituality Center (La Crosse, WI). She is Associate Pastor of St. Stephen’s Lutheran (Bloomington, MN) a pastor and spiritual director who regularly leads retreats for clergy and lay folks. She also serves as a clergy coach through the Fairview Clergy Health Center and as a mentor/teacher with the Spiritual Direction Certification Program at the Lutheran…

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Tod Twist

In addition to being on the Spiritual Direction team at the Benedictine Center, Tod Twist also serves as a Guest Services Assistant, preparing the space for guests. Tod trained as a Spiritual Director through the program at the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, WI. Prior to that, he spent some time as a freelance writer as well as a workshop guy (with leatherworking and woodworking) while being a stay-at-home dad. He studied Hebrew and Semitics at UW–Madison, and also biblical studies at Bethel Seminary in the Twin Cities. While he values formal study programs, Tod has found new joy…

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Rev. Peggy Thompson

Rev. Peggy Thompson (known as Margaret Carroll in the art world) is a chaplain, spiritual director and artist who enjoys combining creativity and spirituality in her own work  and with her clients. Peggy received her B.A. and M.A. degrees from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, an M.Div. from United Theological Seminary, and certification in spiritual direction from The Cenacle Retreat Center. She is ordained in the United Church of Christ and is board certified in The Association of Professional Chaplains. Peggy has been an Oblate of St. Paul’s Monastery since 1993 and has been trained to teach Centering…

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S. Jacqueline Leiter OSB

S. Jacqueline Leiter OSB is a member of St. Paul’s Monastery and a teacher in the St. Paul Public Schools. One of her original works of art won first place in the 2017 Seeing God Juried Exhibit at St. Paul’s Monastery Gallery. Email S. Jacqueline

Testimonials

“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.”

Wendy

“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.”

Jim

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

Mark

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

Jill

“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.”

Nancy

"Our time was peaceful and beautiful and blessed."

Dianne

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

Carol

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

Alan

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

Becky

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

Glen

“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.”

Carolyn

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

Dave

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

Linda

"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!"

Stephen