A great look at one of the greatest Catholic contributions to the world, from Catholic World Report.
The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles (www.benedictinesofmary.org) of the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus were established under the auspices of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1995. They later became independent of the Fraternity and re-located to Gower, Missouri—near St. Joseph, in northwestern Missouri and Kansas City—at the invitation of the then-bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Robert Finn.
The sisters, who wear the full habit and live the monastic life, spend their day in prayer and work on their small farm and in other enterprises to fund their community. They chant many of their prayers and celebrate Mass according to the Extraordinary Form. Silence is important to their spiritual development so they speak only when necessary outside of their afternoon social hour, and they live a life of penance fasting much of the day.
Catholic World Report recently spoke with Sister Scholastica Radel, one of the first sisters to join the community 16 years ago.
CWR: Who first had the idea to found your community?
Sr. Scholastica Radel: Our founding sister, Sr. Wilhelmina, was an Oblate Sister of Providence in Baltimore. She’s African American, and is today 92 years old and living as part of our community. She petitioned to form a more traditional branch of her community, but permission was not granted. The superior of the Fraternity of St. Peter contacted her and invited her to begin a new community in conjunction with the Fraternity.
CWR: Like the Fraternity, you celebrate the Mass in Latin?
Sr. Scholastica Radel: Yes. The Fraternity gave us our start, but we became a monastic group. It was determined early on that we should be a community independent of the Fraternity. However, we remain close friends.
CWR: Who is part of the Benedictines of Mary today?
Sr. Scholastica Radel: We have 32 members. Seven are postulants, four novices, three first professed and the remainder solemnly professed. Up until last year we were all Americans. But, in this last group of seven postulants, we have one who was born in Kenya, another Germany, another Netherlands and another a Canadian born in Algeria. We joke that we’ve become an IHOP, an International House of Postulants.
The other three came from Wisconsin, Texas and South Dakota.
CWR: What is some of the work of your community?
Sr. Scholastica Radel: We are monastic, so much of our work is internal. However, we keep a small farm with five cows, and we have a sewing department that makes vestments for priests throughout the world. But our primary work is prayer.
CWR: And where is your monastery is located?
Sr. Scholastica Radel: We’re in a remote, rural setting. It is important for us to be somewhat removed from the busy city life. We have a large priory, which was built in 2010.
We’ve put on additions to host guests and provide additional space for our community. We’re also ready to start on building our church. Our superior, Mother Cecilia, has been involved in meetings for construction. The planning stage is finished, and we’re ready to start construction.
Those living around us are mostly farmers, the majority of whom are not Catholic. They’ve been very supportive of our presence, constantly looking to lend us a hand. They might drop off a gift of a truckload of watermelons or hay. They appreciate that we are working just like they are. We stay close to them and the community, which is typical for Benedictines.